The government’s commitment to replacing paper and human-based transactions and controls at the seaports with paperless processes will be extended to the airports in the coming years.
The paperless transaction at the airport, known as the air cargo trade facilitation system, seeks to eliminate human intervention and introduce the electronic-based valuation and documentation processes at the airport.
Players contributing to the air cargo trade facilitation system have pledged their support to ensure the government’s paperless transaction comes into fruition on the September 4 deadline since the planned September 1 was a holiday.
This move entails sensitising shippers and creating awareness while paying attention to the challenges that affect businesses in the airport space.
The players include Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Ghana Airport Company Limited (GACL), Ghana Revenue Authority, Customs Division (GRA), Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA) and Ghana Union of Traders’ Association (GUTA).
Cargo handlers and freight forwarders also playing a role in the success of the system involves Aviance, Swiss Ports and the Ghana Airport Cargo Centre (GACC) among others.
At a stakeholders’ forum in Accra on August 31, The Head of Shipper Services department, Naa Aryeetey said, “these are stakeholders we consider very important in the air transport chain and therefore we are engaging them to talk about the air cargo trade facilitation and voice their concerns about its implementation on the said deadline”.
She added that the country had ratified the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreement which meant that it abided by the provisions, and there was the need to find out if the stakeholders in the sectorwere ready for full implementation.
“As you know, Ghana has ratified the WTO Agreement and there are sections and articles that we are committed to and what we want to find out is are stakeholders in the air sector ready? Because once the agreement has been ratified and it is working in full force,we have no excuses not to implement it,” she said.
“One of the areas of Category C in the agreement that falls within the domain of air transport, air trade and air cargo is expediting shipment of perishable goods and that we are supposed to work and make sure that goods arriving at the port are quickly taken out of the airport,” she explained.
The shippers, who were present at the forum, expressed their grievances at the rules involving the paperless transactions after the main stakeholders took turns to make their presentations.
They were more concerned about the new four-day storage deadline, the revenue leakages, delays in goods clearance and the high cost of doing business within the airport community and still thought that there would be a human intervention in the long run.
Naa Aryeetey said in response to their concerns that the stakeholders were working round the clock to tighten all loopholes and deliver in due time and urged all to trust the processes and support the paperless vision.
How committed are major stakeholders?
The Chief Revenue Officer of GRA, Customs Division, Baffour Yaw Anane Asare, said their outfit was bringing an evaluation centre at the airport to prevent shippers from frequenting the company’s head office.
“So air shippers would not have to go through any cumbersome procedure. Like going to the head office to get their Customs Classification and Valuation Report (CCVR) and evaluation will be done”.
The Cargo Consultant of GACL, Rev. Alex Yeboah, said the airport had created a place for shippers to store their goods for a period of time and be taken after the stipulated time.
The Senior Aviation Security Management (AVSEC) Quality Control Inspector of GCAA, Mr Nolasco Nyidu, talked about security and facilitation and regulating agents and recognised consignees and how to educate these people on the digital platform.
Are we really ready?
Madam Aryeetey said no one could be completely ready for a new system until it began so shippers should comply to make it effective.
“Well nobody can be ready for anything and once it hasn’t started you will say that there is time but I believe that in our efforts to try and reach as many shippers as possible to create awareness. I believe that even though it is a short time, they will comply to something that will benefit them,” she said.
Madam Aryeetey said the GSA was committed to creating a platform where stakeholders would be gathered in a particular sector of the transport and logistics chain.
“The shipper’s authority have put in a programme to sensitise shippers across the region and therefore it’s going to be a continuous education and even as the paperless programme is rolled out, we are also going out educating shippers with collaborators such as GRA and GPHA. They are giving out timetables of the dos and don’ts in the paperless transactions and we are going to monitor how the paperless will be going,” she said.
“So it is going to be throughout the implementation process up to the end of the year and we will do follow ups and know the challenges the people have faced since they started and how to get through it and it is going to be continuous” she added.