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Ghanaian ports do not lose any transit cargo to Lomé

The Customs Department of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has debunked rumors that Ghana is losing transit cargoes to neighboring countries such as Togo and Ivory Coast.

Speaking during the Eye on Port show on the Accra-based Metropolitan Television, Chief Revenue Officer and Officer in Charge of Transit at the Customs Department of GRA, Gerald Agbettor claimed that Ghana, contrary to claims, was not losing transit cargoes.

He stated that customs declaration data showed growth in the volume of transit trade in the country.

According to him, during the period January to March 2024, throughput increased by 136,000 tons over the same period in 2023, from 308,000,000 tons to 444,000,000 tons in 2024.

“Some time ago I joined the chorus, especially the transit from the ports to the hinterland, they say Ghana is losing the transit to other places. My background allowed me to access the data manifesto and when I went through it, I saw the transshipment to Benin, the transshipment to Togo, and it became alarming. But the fact that it is a transshipment on the manifest to Togo and Benin does not mean that we lose the transit trade to them,” he explained.

Mr Agbettor also disclosed that the number of diversions in Ghana is low. He, however, urged that security be tightened at various ports and transit terminals to facilitate fair trade.

Furthermore, he commended the Ghana Ports and Harbour’s Authority for saving the Customs Department of GRA the sum of GH¢90 million in their quest to curb the rate of diversion at the port.

He added that Ghana Link played an important role by providing special monitoring equipment on the door-to-door containers moving from the transit terminals to the transit parks.

“It is not really rampant, but it does not mean that security should be relaxed, but rather tightened. A meeting was recently held with stakeholders to collect data from them so that it can be used to best serve customers,” he said.

Eric Adiamah, Council Member of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF), who was also a panelist at the show, agreed with the Chief Revenue Officer that transit in Ghana was flourishing.

He stated that Tema Port is the most preferred port along the West African coast by many landlocked countries. Nevertheless, he revealed that the country lost some transit to neighboring countries due to regulations and the high cost of doing transit, despite the quality services provided by the Port of Tema in terms of safety and security.

“The transit sector is flourishing. The only problem we see as transit operators is the cost of doing business. The volumes, as my brother said, come from data to which I do not have access, but what we know in practice is that we lose some volumes to neighboring countries such as Lomé. Meanwhile, between the Port of Togo and the Port of Tema, in terms of safety and quality of service, the Port of Tema is far ahead,” he said.

Mr Adiamah said the regulations governing transit trade are sufficient to control the diversion of transit cargo at the ports and encouraged the GRA, Customs Department to strengthen its operational cooperation with freight forwarders to discourage them from engaging in transit diversion .

To further discourage others, he insisted that those stopped for diversion traffic violations should face the full rigor of the law.

“If the rules on the books are followed, supervised by customs and all authorities, the rules as they are now are sufficient to do business. The new things they are putting forward will not improve anything, they will not stop distractions, it will only cause concern for people doing legitimate business,” he claimed.

The transit officer explained that section 95, ACT 891, 2015, (6) of the Customs Act allowed escorts for high-risk goods in transit when the commissioner so deemed.

“There were suspicions that some high-risk goods were likely to be diverted and that is why we have to place escorts on them. So it is not the whole of the entire transit trade. High-risk goods such as rice, tomato paste, cooking oil, vegetable oil, ethanol, alcohol and diapers are increasingly being brought in, hence the directives from the Commissioner and the Commissioner General that we must ensure that we guide them,” he explained out. .