Paperless Port: Freight Forwarders propose a Steering body

The Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF), has called for the setting up of a Steering body that will ensure that the real impact of the paperless port is felt on the ground and to sustain the momentum that the Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, brought to the whole exercise.

“We [GIFF] think the paperless port is one of the best things that ever happened. The only problem is that its effect has not been felt on the ground like we envisaged. I’d rate it at 50-60% implementation,” President of the institute, Eddy Akrong, said.

The GIFF boss who was speaking on GPHA’s Eye on Port on consolidating the strategic role of the freight forwarder in modern port operations, called for direct government involvement in the management of the project.

“If you will bear with me, in the initial days, when this policy was effected, there was a direct government hand and a push right from Jubilee House according to how it should go, and everybody was whipped in line and made sure compliance was optimum,” he argued.

At a port efficiency conference in Accra, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, announced the idea of paperless transactions at the ports to among other things, facilitate trade and cut down on the cost and time of doing business.

Dr. Bawumia’s three-point directive included: the removal of all Customs barriers on the country’s transit corridor; a joint inspection by all regulatory agencies; and 100 percent paperless transactions at the ports from September 1, 2017.

This was followed up with an official unveiling of a road map for the paperless process to guide operators and agencies in the port clearance chain – with WestBlue Consulting and GCNet as the IT solutions providers.

Stakeholders in the country’s maritime business unanimously lauded the initiative right from take-off, citing convenience in the goods clearance process.

The Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), Ghana Union of Traders Associations (GUTA), Association of Customs House Agents Ghana (ACHAG) and the two systems operators, GCNet and West Blue Consulting, all attested that paperless transactions at the ports have brought relief to the shipping community.

But according to the GIFF boss, all of such expectations are dying down hence the need for government to have a direct hand in the project, contrary to the suggestion of a lead agency within the clearance chain to drive its sustenance.

“We have always talked about a certain governance structure which is actually a UN Model. When you promulgate policies, the government has to have a direct hand in it to make sure it is working the way it is supposed to work,” Mr. Akrong indicated.

Source: Patrick Paintsil || thebusiness24online.com

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