The government expects that processes geared towards developing service standards for the operations of shipping lines, terminal operators, freight forwarders and other service providers will be fast-tracked to help streamline charges at the ports and reduce the cost of shipping.
This will help mitigate the dramatic increasing cost of shipping, which impacts inflation.
“These developments have given the government great impetus to accelerate ongoing measures to streamline charges at the ports and reduce the cost of shipping,” the Minister of Transport, Kwaku Ofori-Asiamah, said.
In a speech read on his behalf by one of his deputies, Frederick Obeng Adom, at the fifth edition of the Maritime and Shipping Industry Awards, the minister indicated that the government was keen on implementing measures that would help shippers and shipping service providers remain competitive in the global shipping and logistics industry, while a reduction in service costs would also significantly help in consolidating the gains in the sector.
He intimated that the rise in global inflation had, for instance, pushed the United States (US) into enacting legislation to improve oversight of ocean shipping in a bid to reduce costs and help curb inflation.
The awards, organised by Globe Production, in partnership with the Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA), the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) and the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL), saw 68 institutions and individuals honoured in various honorary and competitive categories.
The Takoradi Container Terminal (Tacotel), new entrants into the industry, having commenced operations five years ago, won the Terminal Operator of the Year award, with its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr Felix Nana Sackey, being adjudged the Personality of the Year.
Other winners were the Group Chairman of Ghana Link, Nick Adjei Danso, who took home the ultimate award of Entrepreneur of the Year, while his company won five awards, including Excellence in Innovation and Technology.
Global Cargo and Commodities Limited, the only indigenous private company that owns and operates the GCT Terminal at the Tema Port, also took home the Logistics Service Provider of the Year award, with its CEO, Jacob Gbati, winning the CEO of the Year award.
Others were Meridian Port Services (MPS) - Industry Leadership Award and Excellence in Health, Safety, Environment and Quality (HSEQ); Aviance Ghana, MacDan Shipping, Basileia, MSC, DHL, Bethel Logistics, among others.
The Ministry of Transport, Mr Ofori-Asiamah said, had, over the years, taken note of shipper complaints, including arbitrary charges by some service providers, demurrage-free counting days, working days and hours and arbitrary exchange rates used by some service providers.
“I am happy to inform you that action is being taken to find lasting solutions to these complaints and it is my fervent hope that consensus will be built to deal with these matters as quickly as possible to help not only support your operations but also accelerate economic growth,” he said.
A Deputy Chief Executive of the GMA, Daniel Appianin, who represented the Director-General, Thomas Alonsi, said the authority would continue to work to create a congenial environment for all players.
He called on players to develop innovative means that would sustain the sector and make it an enabler of economic growth and poverty reduction.
The Deputy Harbour Master of the Port of Tema, Captain Daniel Quartey, who represented the Director-General of the GPHA, Michael Luguje, pointed out that millions of livelihoods were dependent on the port and its associated industry, for which reason its sustainability remained key not only to the Ghanaian economy but also the global economy at large.
He commended the Ghana Navy for the key role it continued to play to sustain the security of the sector, which he said had led to Ghana playing host to the ECOWAS Multinational Maritime Coordination Centre (MMCC) Zone F Office.
“Some years ago, you heard that the Gulf of Guinea maritime domain was the den of pirates. In 2020, we had 40 kidnappings within the domain. However, 2022 has recorded no incident, and if the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Issah Adam Yakubu, sits here with us, he and his men and women deserve all commendation,” Captain Quartey said.
The CEO of the GSA, Benonita Bismarck, indicated that hopes of the cost of freight returning to normal hung in the balance, as post-COVID-19 events and the Russia/Ukraine war had contributed to unstable cost of doing business at the ports.
That, she indicated, had brought an enormous burden on the operations of industry players, “which has invariably affected the cost of goods on our markets”.
She said from Fitch’s ratings in its 2022 half-year review of the global maritime industry performance, maritime transport costs still remained exceptionally high, compared to the pre-COVID-19 era, but there were signs that the situation would stabilise.
That notwithstanding, the GSA would continue to promote and protect the interest of shippers in Ghana by finding solutions to the challenges that hindered their competitiveness, she said .
“We have achieved these through our innovative programmes across the country in the form of trade facilitation, sensitisation, trade advisory support and services, among others, which have tangible results in the improvement of trade compliance, capacity of shippers to manage their shipments, among others,” Ms Bismarck said.
Hall of Fame
The Coordinator of the awards, the CEO of Globe Productions, Latif Abubakar, announced that companies and individuals who, since the inception of the awards, had won certain competitive categories over the period had been inducted into the award hall of fame, making them ineligible to contest the categories in future awards.