Neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire has repealed the implementation of a directive on transhipment, which made it impossible for shippers to freight cargo originating from countries outside the sub-region to any of Ghana’s twin-sea ports and later cart them by road to that country.
The directive was revoked earlier this month following intense negotiations between Ghanaian authorities, led by the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA), and its Ivoirian counterparts.
Its suspension means that shippers and the business community in general can continue shipping their goods into Ghana through either the Tema or Takoradi ports and can subsequently cart them by road into Cote d’Ivoire as has been the case over the years.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the GSA, Dr Kofi Mbiah, who announced this in Accra, added that the authority thus “encourages shippers, freight forwarders and other economic operators along the Ghana-Cote d’Ivoire transit corridor to continue transacting their legitimate businesses without hesitation.”
“It is to be noted that the importation of prohibited goods or counterfeit will face punitive action in accordance with the provisions pertaining to the Customs Code,” Dr Mbiah said, stressing that the repeal of the directives does not mean that shippers could smuggle goods across the two countries.
The directives banning the cargo bound for countries within the ECOWAS area were issued by the Ivorian Ministry of Budget in 2005, making it compulsory for all goods entering the country to be discharged only at the Abidjan Port.
Its implementation was, however, stayed until earlier this year when customs officers from that country decided to activate it.
That caused apprehension among Ghanaian shippers, leading to a lock down of truckloads of cargo meant for Cote d’Ivoire at the Elubo-Nue border for over two months.
The situation prompted the Shippers’ Authority, which is the umbrella body of shippers and related service providers in the country, and officials from the Ministries of Transport, Foreign Affairs and Trade and Industry to ask for a repeal of the directives.
The Ivoirian authorities responded with a three-month moratorium, which ended in August but was extended to September.
“This provided a temporary reprieve to shippers and other economic operators and enabled the laden trucks at the Elubo-Nue border to enter Cote d’Ivoire for normal business,” the CEO of GSA said.
“The GSA’s further intervention through its counterpart, the Ivorian Shippers’ Council led to a repeal of the directive, thereby bringing closure to the matter,” he added.
Impact on economy
Although the implementation of the directive caused apprehension among the shipping community in the country, Dr Mbiah said its impact was minimal due to the moratoriums granted over the periods.
“However, people were living as if they were in a vacuum, not knowing what will happen next,” he said.
The repeal would thus help raise the country’s transit trade, which was projected to fall in the face of the implementation of the directive.