Following government’s suspension of the cargo tracking system, the company that won the bid to implement the project, Antaser Afrique BVBA, has come out to make it clear that the implementation of the project would be at no cost to the government.
Antaser Afrique BVBA in 2015 was supposed to have start what was then known as the ASHI project to facilitate the reduction in productive hours spent at the ports, of which Ghana presently was not doing too well, in comparison to at least five other countries in the sub-Saharan region. Dwell time of cargo at Tema is generally high at twenty (20) days.
However, arguments against the cargo tracking system by freight forwarders that it will increase cost of doing business at the ports saw government suspend it
Interestingly, a representative of Antaser, who spoke to Today on condition of anonymity, explained that because CTN allegedly wanted to shortchange the original implementers of the project, they hurriedly implemented the project and started charging innocent importers when the project in actual sense was suppose to be free.
The Antaser representative told the paper that the Advanced Shipping Information (ASHI) will help Ghana in several ways.
“It will allow relevant shipment information to be captured at the port of origin, and that data received in Ghana far in advance of vessel/cargo arrival in Ghana,” the Antaser representative explained.
Additionally, the representative from Antaser indicated that the system when implemented will impact directly on activities of shippers, importers, shipping agents and all stakeholders that interface with shippers/shipping agents at the ports in Ghana.
ASHI’s launch has been delayed mainly, due to resistance from some groups of stakeholders who argue that the extra cost to be borne by the shippers/shipping agents will create undue economic strain on a system already burdened with numerous charges, levies, fees, and taxes.
Secondly, the opponents of ASHI believe that ASHI largely duplicates systems that are already in place. Thirdly, they believe ASHI fails to tackle the main causes of congestion at the ports.
The primary advantage purported for ASHI is the reduction in delays at the ports. However, delays at the ports are caused by several factors.
Most of these factors are peculiar to different stakeholder groups. For instance, from the perspective of the Ghana Union of Trade Associations, GUTA, one of the major causes of delays at the ports is the process of accessing funds from credit institutions for clearing the goods.
ASHI is projected to drive down these margins and make Ghana’s ports more competitive in the process.
Story: Ato KEELSON