ACCRA, The launch of paperless transactions at Ghana’s ports has taken off successfully from Sept 1, aimed at reducing the cost of doing business, enhancing transparency and improving the country’s trade competitiveness.

The roll-out of the “Paperless Ports” initiative followed a directive from Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia issued during a Port Efficiency Conference held in May. The three-point directive included removal of all Customs barriers along the country’s transit corridor, joint inspection by all regulatory agencies and 100 per cent paperless transactions at ports from Sept 1, 2017.

The vice-president followed that up with an official unveiling of a road map of the paperless process to guide the operators and agencies involved in the port clearance chain.

Ahead of the implementation of the directive, the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), the Ghana Community Network, West Blue Consulting, the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, the Ghana Shippers Authority, the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and a host of other stakeholder institutions embarked on several engagements with importers and freight forwarders to educate them on the changes that would occur on their systems.

Last Friday, although the ports delivery unit did not function because it was a statutory holiday, the ship side operation was functional. According to the various ports authorities, two persons made requests online, which the GPHA’s operational team were able to respond to appropriately.

We received two requests for services from the GICCS platform, one being a reefer container and the other a dry container. When the request was received we were able to generate an invoice and sent it back to the GICCS platform for the agent to have access, said Josephine Gyima-Akwafo, the Corporate Planning and Monitoring Manager of the GPHA.

She, however, added that on Saturday, the Revenue Centre was a bit slow, but pockets of clearing agents came to the centre to make enquiries on how to make their requests online.

Esther Gyebi-Donkor, the General Manager in charge of Marketing and Corporate Affairs of the GPHA, said the ports authorities provided a Customer Service Centre to assist agents to use the online systems without any difficulties.

We were able to put our customer service in place. We ensured that all the people who came to the Revenue Centre to process the old forms were given detailed exposure on how they have to start making their requests in the system from Monday. The number of people who came around to do clearance had started the process already with the old system so we let them to go through a transition period in order to clear those ones through the old system,? she said.