Freight Forwarders at the Tema Port are unhappy with a new directive from the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, GRA, asking them to get a temporary pass to enable them access the port to clear their goods due to the partial lockdown.
This follows the directive from President Nana Akufo-Addo in his fourth address since the outbreak in Ghana, announcing a two-week partial lockdown of Accra, Tema, Kumasi and Kasoa from the 30th of March, 2020 as the nation fights the novel coronavirus pandemic.
But according to some of the Freight Forwarders who spoke to Citi Business News, the delay in issuing the pass will affect their businesses.
“It will be better they close the ports so that we will all be in the house because if you want us to work and we have our harbour pass and we come here, and you are telling us to come for a permit for only two people, it’s not fair. If you are not having this permit and security meets you on the road, what are you going to tell them?” a freight forwarder quizzed,“.
“The two pass being issued for a number of agents from various offices is not enough for us. We reported to the terminal manager and he told us that they are doing everything to solve this. So, they need to address this thing properly,” another stated.
But in an interview with Citi Business News, the Sector Commander, Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, Tema Port, Joseph Adu-Kyei, explained that the essence is to control people from coming to the port when they don’t have any business to do there.
He further stated that the directive was issued as a control measure to ensure social distancing against the spread of COVID-19.
“The order is that cargo should be allowed into the country, but it wasn’t specific. So now if you have work to do at the port you can come and clear. But, it became necessary that in view of the partial lock-down, we don’t want many people to come to the port so that we can observe the social distancing we are talking about,” he said.
“So, I was directed by the Commissioner on Sunday around 2:00pm, to issue a temporary pass because it is a national security order to control people from coming to the port to do anything. There must be a restriction,” he added.
He also stated that the main pass will be issued at the head office, and called on the freight forwarders to be calm as the hitches will be addressed.
“The main pass will be issued at head office as they are working on the format. The temporary pass is just to cover today and tomorrow so that work can go on.”
“On Sunday, I signed the pass to the agencies because we are not signing the pass to individuals. I started by issuing two, then three and now four. So, when I issue the pass to the company it is not in your name. It enables any individual of that company to use the pass to transact business so that when you finish you return the pass and another person can also use it, ” he added.
On Friday, 28th March 2020, President Akufo Addo declared a partial lock-down of Accra, Tema and Kumasi. It was to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Ghana.
Currently, Ghana has recorded 152 cases of COVID-19 with 5 deaths and 1 recovery. 133 of the cases were confirmed in the Greater Accra region while 8 were confirmed in the Ashanti Region.