The Office of the Ghana Shippers Authority in the Western Region has undertaken an outreach event with shippers in Agona Swedru and its environs on the mandate and services of the Authority.
The Programme is also in line with Government’s goals to protect and promote the interests of shippers in Ghana’s commercial shipping sector in relation to international trade and transport.
Mr. Charles Darling Sey, the Branch Manager of Western Region with oversight responsibility on Western North and Central Regions said the Authority would sensitise stakeholders to equip the Ghanaian shippers on shipping best practices at the port.
The programme held in collaboration with the Business Resource Centre (BRC) at the Agona Swedru is the first of its kind for exporters and importers in the area.
The Branch Manager took them through the mandate and services of the Authority, and import and export procedures and challenges of the Ghanaian Shipper.
He said the Authority was a State Agency under the auspices of the Ministry of Transport, established in 1974 to advocate shippers in Ghana, in relation to port, ship and inland transport ultimately to ensure safe, reliable, seamless and cost-effective delivery of cargo.
He mentioned that the services to shippers included Shipper education, sensitization programmes, negotiating Port charges, conducting research on emerging issues, establishing platforms for mutual consultation between the Authority and shipping service providers.
The rest are; providing timely interventions in shipment challenges confronting importers and exporters, facilitating and promoting trade along Ghana’s transit corridor and arranging for legal assistance for shippers with legitimate maritime claims and arbitration services on legitimate shipping and trade disputes.
“The Authority also provides relevant information or data as a contribution to the formulation of policies on Ghana’s transport sector, undertakes infrastructural projects to augment existing shipping and logistical infrastructure in the country and represents shippers’ interest in local and international shipping and trade related fora and organisations,” he added.
Mr Sey educated them on general export procedures including, registering with the Registrar General Department as a company or an enterprise, Ghana Export Promotion Authority, Ghana Standards Authority, Food and Drugs Authority among others.
He advised Suppliers or exporters to work according to specifications and use Freight On Board (FOB) which specifies when obligations of goods delivery shift from the seller to the buyer.
He espoused on the import clearance procedure as follows: Submit Bill of Lading, attested invoice and packing list to Customs, pick up Final Classification and Valuation Report (FCVR) from Customs, as well as pay local and administrative charges to the shipping line for cargo release among others.
He however advised against prohibited imports: mattresses, used refrigerators and air conditioners, used underwear, used sanitary wear, used vehicle cuts and tampered chassis, imported frozen tilapia, obscene or pornographic articles, and dangerous weapons as well as contaminated food among others.
He educated them on the implementation of the National Insurance Commission Act 724 section 37 (1), which states that “unless authorised by the Commission, a person shall not enter into a contract of insurance with an offshore insurer in respect of (a) Property situate in the country, or (c) Goods, either than personal effects, being imported into the country” and section 37 (2) which further states that “A person who contravenes subsection (1) commits an offence”.
The Regional Manager advised shippers to hire competent licence Customs House Agents and Freight Forwarders to reduce some of the frustrations they had to endure at the Port.
“You should provide packing list, attested invoices and other relevant documents to assist in duty assessment, request for pre-arrival assessment and avoid the importation of prohibited cargo to reduce some of the avoidable incur at the port”, he added.
He implored importers to collect and file all documents on shipments to assist in investigation, and claims for losses and damage adding that shippers could also contact the Authority’s offices across all the entry points of the country whenever they were faced with shipping related challenges for assistance.
Stakeholders at the meeting raised several concerns centered on inconsistent charges on imported tyres, wrong allocation and delivery of containers to terminals at the Port of Tema and the payment of all charges at one terminal, only to be redirected to another terminal to go through the clearance process again.
Mr. Kwame Agyei, the Head of the Swedru BRC said they were established as part of the Industrial Transformation Agenda of the government.
The BRC is spearheaded by the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) to provide institutional support to assist the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises to grow and improve their competitiveness.
Mr. Agyei said their core services was Business Opportunity Identification or Business Concept Validation, Business Plan Preparation, Facilitation of Access to Credit and Finance and Project Start Up Support, Others are, Business Health Check & Diagnostics, Business Counselling & Mentorship, Consultancy & Advisory Services, Training (Entrepreneurship & Management), Agency Representation Services and Regulatory Services.
The BRC has offices located at strategic parts of Ghana such as Obuasi, Goaso, Dormaa-Ahenkro, Weija, Elmina, Kyebi, Yendi, Damongo, Bawku, Tumu, Hohoe, Kadjebi and Tarkwa.