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The challenges associated with the clearing of goods in most ports across the developing world continue to be major hindrances to the smooth trade and overall national development. Most importers and exporters find it difficult clearing their cargo as they are in most cases made to go through laborious processes and procedures in their bid to have access to their shipped or air lifted consignments.In its bid to reduce the burden on importers, the Tema Collection of the Custom Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, GRA is rolling out a number of decentralized interventions to drastically reduce the turn around time in the clearing of goods at the Tema Port. The move forms part of efforts aimed at providing a world class revenue related services to its clients. The Commander of the Tema Collection of the Custom Division, Assistant Commissioner Alhaji Yusif Ibrahim announced this at a news briefing at the Tema Port. The interventions involve the decentralization of its operations into a one-stop-shop to facilitate trade, reduce time spent at the Long Room and to provide efficient and hustle free clearing process for importers and exporters. A dedicated one-stop-shop for the clearance of vehicles has been created at the Tema Safe Bond Car Park. The new centre which is now in operation will be solely responsible for the valuation, compliance verification, examination and release of all vehicles after the right duties and charges have been paid. Hitherto, clearing agents were made to process all vehicle documentations at the Long Room before proceeding to the Car Park for further processing which causes delays and congestion at the port especially in the Long Room. With the new center in place, it is expected that importers with genuine documents will be able to clear their vehicles within a short period. According to the Commander of the Tema Collection, Assistant Commissioner, Alhaji Yusif Ibrahim, with the implementation of the decentralized specialized services project, officers at the Long Room will be handling general consignments. He said the Command has increased the number of officers at the Long Room to ensure quick response to the needs of importers and exporters to reduce the time they spend at the place. By the end of this month, a similar centre will be operational at the Transit Yard where all documentation of transit goods will be done in the yard. This will also help reduce the cost and time of transiting goods from the Tema Port to neighboring landlocked countries like Niger, Mali and Bourkina Faso. Alhaji Ibrahim also mentioned that as part of efforts to enhance the image of the Custom Division in the eyes of the public, a Help Desk and Custom Offense Report Units have been created to offer assistance to the business community and also help the Command to receive feedback from the public on their operations. He said the Command is considering offering specialized training courses for the custom officers to build their capacities on specific areas of the clearing process as part of strategies to promote efficiency in the collection of revenue for the state. The Officer in Charge at the Safe Bond Car Park ,Sheila Caverson, observed that the clearing agents and other stakeholders are happy about the decentralization of the vehicle clearance section of the Command. She said the new arrangement makes it easy for the agents to have their documents vetted and their vehicles cleared within minutes if they do not have problems with their declarations. She explained that with the centralized vehicle clearing system two hundred 66 vehicles are cleared every day, saying a lot more vehicles will be cleared with the establishment of the one-stop-shop vehicle clearing centre. If this interventions are anything to go by then the next time you import or export any consignment to and from Ghana you are likely to clear your items within minutes as pointed out by the custom officers all things being equal. This can happen if the other stakeholders all improve upon their services. Tema port is the most preferred sea port in west Africa and all efforts need to be made to further improve service delivery so as to rake in the needed revenue to promote national development.



BY Dominic Hlordzi

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