The declining trend in transit trade through the country’s corridors over the last few years has shifted into the first quarter of 2015, when it recorded a further reduction in trade volumes compared to the previous year’s figure.Statistics from the Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA) show that a total of 152,022 tonnes of cargo were carted by major transit traders Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger along the country’s transit routes in the first quarter. This represents a 36 percent reduction compared to the 2014 figure, when total transit trade stood at 238,002 tonnes within that period. Transit trade, which saw a commendable eight-fold growth from 100,000 metric tonnes in 1999 to 800,000 tonnes in 2005, continued to be on the downside over the last few years.
Industry experts have attributed the sharp decline in the country’s transit trade figures over the last few years largely to multiple issues, including a rigid and unfavourable axle-load regime and wanton extortion along transit corridors. Ghana is already implementing the new axle-load policy that requires transit trucks only be loaded up to 60-tonnes, while sister port countries like Togo, Nigeria and Benin are yet to start using the system.
General Secretary of the Ghana Transport Owners Association (GHATOA), Adam Saliah, told B&FT in an earlier interview that strict adherence to the load policy has resulted in a mass exodus of cargo trucks to neighbouring port countries. This phenomenon threatens job security for a section of workers in the maritime sector --specifically truck drivers, mates and dockworkers -- and, largely, government revenue generation from the sector. Transit trade through Ghana’s ports contributes to the national economy through job-creation in the areas of trucking services, which ultimately results in more revenue for cargo handlers, the GPHA and dockworkers. According to the GSA, the haulage sector provides an average of 97,000 trucking jobs -- drivers and mates -- per year for the northbound transportation of transit cargo destined for the Sahelian countries, generating a yearly income in the range of US$81million for local haulage companies.
But key stakeholders in the shipping sector, particularly the Ghana Shippers Authority, are aggressively working to turn the declining transit trade around through extensive sensitization aimed at checking corrupt practices along the country’s corridors.Chief Executive Officer Dr. Kofi Mbiah has argued for uniformity in implementation of the axle-load policy to allow for a level playing ground for trucking businesses within the region.
The Ghana Police Service has also issued a directive restricting police officers manning checkpoints and borders along transit routes, to allow transit cargo trucks uninterrupted passage. The directive is expected to facilitate smooth and hassle-free movement of goods and services in ECOWAS countries, and ensure that transit cargo trucks have free access along the country’s corridors to their destination.As per the directive, appropriate checks on transit trucks will be made at the various points of entry, after which the truck drivers will be certified and issued with a document to facilitate free movement from that point of entry to the destination. Source: Business and Financial Times