Among some of the measures is the transport ministry’s decision to suspend the implementation of the Terminal Handling Charges (THC) being proposed by the various shipping lines.
The decision to suspend the charges was made known on Wednesday, last week after hours of meeting between stakeholders in the shipping industry and the ministry.
The ministry has referred the matter to the Ghana Maritime Authority which is expected to present a report on it within two months.
The charges, if approved, would mean shippers will be paying between $140 and $155 for a 20-footer container and $260-$275 for a 40-footer one. Various groups in the industry, including the Ghana Shippers Authority, the Ghana Ports and Harbors Authority, Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana, among others, have kicked against the THC, saying it would further increase the cost of doing business.
They argue that the new charges are unnecessary, saying they have already been factored into the freight charges they pay before a ship sets sail. They fear if the charges come into force, they would be paying close to $60 million annually.
The shippers say as it stands now, they are reeling under the impact of multiplicity of taxes and levies at the ports.
They have thus welcomed the suspension of the charges as they await the report of the Ghana Maritime Authority.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Transport has described the operational performance of Ghana’s ports from January to June, 2016 as very impressive compared to the same period last year.
Taking his turn at the meet the press series in Accra, the Transport Minister revealed that container traffic between January and June last year, was 409, 120 while this year saw an increase up to 454, 858.
In terms of cargo traffic by tonnage, he said last year recorded a total cargo traffic of 8.3million tons between January and June but this went up to 9.5million tons in 2016.
Vessel turnaround time which is the number of hours vessel take at the Tema Port, reduced from 106.8 to 98.
That of Takoradi Port also reduced from 62.7 to 46.13.
Containerized transit traffic also increased to 458, 578 for the period of January to June this year from 359, 543 last year for the same period.
The Minister of Transport, Fifi Kwetey attributes this to the confidence investors have in the port as a result of its efficiency.
“You could see the brisk activity that is going on, efficiency levels are going up and that actually shows that much more business is going to continue and that is why there is so much confidence by various investors which is seeing the huge investment that we are seeing as far as the port activity is concerned,” he stated.
He is optimistic that the level of developments at both the Tema and Takoradi ports will make Ghana’s ports the leading ports in the West African sub-region.
Adnan Adams Mohammed