Govt to welcome suggestions for First Port Rule implementation

Accra� Mr Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, the Minister of Transport, on Thursday said the government is open to useful suggestions and ideas that would enrich the First Port Rule policy formulation.

That, he said, would ensure successful implementation of the policy for the mutual benefit of the countries in the Sub-region.

Under the Policy, customs officials from landlocked nations such as Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger would be stationed at Ghana’s ports, and importers would be directed to the appropriate country’s desk to pay the required duties on transit goods.

The policy is intended to tackle the increasing smuggling, arising from diverted transit goods supposedly meant for landlocked countries.

Mr Asiamah, stated at the closing ceremony of the 39th Council and Conference of Ports Management Association of West and Central Africa (PMAWCA) in Accra.

He said government was not oblivious of the potential logistical challenges the policy would present.

Government would deal with the several bilateral protocols relating to the arrangement regarding the mandate of the Customs Authorities of the landlocked countries, especially the scope of their work, immunities they would enjoy while they are in the country and their legal jurisdiction.

Mr Asiamah said the arrangement would ensure a win-win situation for both Ghana and the destination countries, as well as enhance trade in the Sub-region.

He said his outfit would continue to work with the Board of Directors of the Ghana Ports and Harbour Authority (GPHA), to have a long-term plan for the development of all ports in the country.

He urged the member countries of PMAWCA to constantly work together and share ideas that would ultimately promote the Sub-region as a safe and welcoming destination for shippers.

The conference made a number of recommendations that would improve the utilisation of ports lands in the Sub-region for efficient service delivery.

The four-day event was on the theme: Best Practices in the Management of Ports Lands, which brought together Chief Executives and Managing Directors of Ports within the West and Central African region.

The PMAWCA is an inter-regional economic organisation with members stretching from Mauritania, Cape Verde, Liberia, La Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea to Angola, including landlocked countries.

The conference attracted experts and stakeholders in the maritime industry, who deliberated on a number of challenges facing the sector, shared ideas and proposed solutions to ensure efficient port services.

In the PMAWCA Secretary-General’s Report, the conference proposed that port authorities in the Sub-region should plan for long-term expansion of their ports facilities to promote trade.

It encouraged governments of the various port authorities to support them in land acquisition, review land management and land-use policies, to prevent encroachment as well as engage in activities that would attract cargo traffic to their respective ports.

It also urged port authorities to utilise information communication technology to enhance the turnaround time of cargo traffic and make them competitive in service delivery.

In view of the resignation of Mr Michael Achagwe Luguje as the Secretary-General of PMAWCA, in order to take a new appointment as Acting Director-General of the GPHA, the conference appointed Mr Tonan Fatondji Augustin of the Port of Cotonou, Benin, to act in that capacity until fresh elections are held in May next year, to elect a new person.

Lome Port Authority, Togo, was selected to host the Association’s 40th Council and Conference next year, which would be held on the theme: The Role of the State in the Port and Maritime Economy.

Source: Ghana News Agency