The Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) has achieved a 99 per cent paperless operational system, one year after its introduction into the country’s ports clearance process. The paperless port system, which was a government policy announced by Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia in May 2017, took off from September 1, 2017. Mrs Esther Gyebi-Donkor, General Manager, Marketing and Corporate Affairs of GPHA, disclosing this, said the feat included the integration of GPHA’s IT systems with Ghana Community Network (GCNet). Mrs Gyebi-Donkor added that the information from shipping lines, manifest, and GPHA’s billing system had all been made electronic as part of the paperless system.
She indicated that ECOBANK, and Agriculture Development Bank (ADB) which are associate banks in the clearing process, had also been integrated into the GCNet system making their information electronically acquirable.
She, however, added that clients still make physical payments at the banks, adding that strategies were being put in place to make online payments available to stakeholders.
The one per cent remaining, she observed, had to do with consolidated cargoes which were yet to be captured under the paperless system.
She therefore charged stakeholders, especially the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to make provision for defining the inspection of goods, in the paperless process, to ensure maximum efficiency.
Mrs Gyebi-Donkor said GPHA was putting in place a system which would enable importers to access the needed information which include handling charges to be paid.
This, she noted, would create a transparent system for importers and the trading public.
Mrs Gyebi-Donkor added that one of the challenges of the paperless system was when there were difficulties in receiving payment information from the banks after customers had paid, saying in such situations clients were required to provide hardcopies of invoices.
She indicated that, though to a large extent, GPHA’s processes had been paperless, there was still a lot more to be done in order to perfect the system adding that the short notice between the date the directive was given and the implementation day created some initial challenges in piloting a flawless process.
She said the paperless system had improved container throughput tremendously, as according to her, the system led to the reduction in turnaround time of vessels.