THE Ghana Shippers' Council has asked the Burkina Faso Transport Association (OTRAF) to discontinue its unilateral control of transit cargo moving from the Tema Port to Burkina Faso.
The order came when tensed moments began to register among the two bodies over the sharing of cargo, resulting in OTRAF imposing a fine of ¢71 million on JOHNMOOR Ltd, a Ghanaian freight forwarder.
At a meeting held at Tema in a tension-filled atmosphere, the Freight Manager of the Ghana Shippers' Council, Mr. Emmanuel Martey, told representatives from the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF), Burkinabe and Nigerian Shippers' Councils, Ship owners and Agents Association, Customs, Excise and Preventive Services (CEPS) and the Ghana Private Road Transport (GPRTU) to seek their own clients until such a time that a new law will be enacted to govern transit cargo haulage.
Officials of GIFF contended that the Burkinabe Transport Association (OTRAF) is operating illegally in Ghana hiding behind the Burkina Faso Chamber of Commerce.
According to GIFF President, Mr. Frank Yaw Sarpong, and Tema District Chairman, Mr. Kingsley Ahenkorah, the system where transit goods to Burkina Faso are shared 60% and 40% among OTRAF and Ghanaian haulage trucks respectively is not acceptable.
According to them, apart from the fact that OTRAF is operating in Ghana illegally, they do not have trucks on their own.
What OTRAF does, the GIFF executive members said, is that after forcibly securing their 60% cargo, they subcontract it to the GPRTU.
This, they said, contravenes Legislative Instrument (L.I. 1178) which stated that freight forwarding is reserved for only Ghanaians.
The GIFF executive members also said that trucks from Burkina Faso break down continuously on the way and that importers preferred Ghanaian operated trucks but are disallowed by OTRAFF, which they accused of not paying a pesewa as tax in Ghana.
A few months ago, 23 trucks belonging to JOHNMOORE LTD were reportedly seized in Burkina Faso and fined ($10,000) ¢71 million for not sharing cargo it arranged from France with OTRAF.
Burkina Faso Chamber of Commerce representative in Ghana, Mr. Y. Congo, who was accused of introducing strange practices in Ghana, backed his actions with a 1976 agreement that enabled Burkina Faso and Niger to benefit two-thirds of all transit cargo haulage.
According to him, that agreement is still in force.
A Burkinabe trade facilitator, Mr. Victor Ouadragou, who is a member of the GIFF, appealed to the Ghana Shippers Council to be firm in taking decision affecting haulage of transit goods.
According to him, the onus rests on the importer to choose among various transport sections and that it is wrong to impose 60% and 40% haulage system in Ghana.
He further stated that we are in an era of efficiency so it is ony the client who has the obligation.
The CEPS representative at the meeting had a few problems with people and equipment in the haulage business.
According to him, some of the vehicles conveying these cargos are non-roadworthy, overloaded and some operators do not have international driving licences.
These, he said, are risk factors CEPS personnel on escort duties face with some personnel maimed in accidents.
The GIFF officials, who opposed the manner CEPS personnel on escort duties charged arbitrary fees, blamed the service for risking the lives of their men.
According to them, they have been drumming the establishment of a monitoring system that will ensure that certain days in the week are used for transit cargo movement.
By so doing, CEPS men will not be on-board the loaded trucks, but rather use patrol vehicles to escort the trucks in convoy to the borders.
The CEPS did not agree because of monetary gains in individual escort which is negotiated between CEPS officers and freight forwarders.
Instead of ¢50,000 per an officer for a day on escort, officers charge as much as ¢30,000 for same purpose.
In a related development, a wireless message from Chief Collector, Revenue at CEPS to all sector commanders dated November 30, 2001 dispatched at 1545HRS GMT reviewed transit fees.
The intercepted message said that, in pursuance of road traffic 9Amendment Regulation 2001) L.I. 168C, the public is hereby informed that with effect from December 1, 2001, the following prescribed rates will be charged as international transit fees - Cars/Pick-Ups - ¢100,000, Light buses/trucks up to 33-Seater - ¢150,000, Heavy buses/trucks under three axles - ¢200,000, whiles articulated trucks 3 - 4 axles - ¢30-0,000.
Fees are for each vehicle and imagine an importer with a fleet of about ten.
The new escort charges is believed will push present and prospective users of the Ghana Ports as corridors away.
A source who is patronising the Ghanaian corridor hinted that delegations from Abidjan has already visited Burkina Faso to arrange new system of transporting transit cargo which is milder than what is pertaining in Ghana.
All these he said, is just to win back business Cote d'Ivoire seems to be losing to Ghana.