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15.09.2003 General News

Transit goods importers threaten to leave Ghana over increases

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Tema, Sept. 15, GNA - Importers of transit goods through the Tema Port on Monday threatened to divert their business routes to neighbouring Lome in Togo and Abidjan in the Cote d'Ivoire following increases in insurance bond charges.

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency at the Tema Port, some of the importers, most of whom are from landlocked Francophone countries, complained that the charges were so high that it was not worth taking their goods through the Tema Port anymore.

"Fortunately for us, Abidjan Port has now been opened, so we can now operate from there, as well as the Lome Port where some of our people have even started work," Mr Elvis Addikabone, a Bourkina Faso importer, said.

He said last Friday Clearing Agents in charge of transit trade at the Port, informed them about the increases in charges for bond insurance from one per cent to two per cent, which means that 400 million cedis worth of goods which attracted a bond value of four million cedis will now attract eight million cedis.

"We see the increment as a move to get us out of business and we are ready to leave Ghana to trade at Lome or Abidjan Ports where we understand the language and where the clearing procedure is faster and simpler", Addikabone said.

Mr Christopher Akapoh of Zolab, a clearing agent, described the increment as a "killer" while Mr George Owusu-Koranteng of Tropical Freight International, expressed regrets that clearing agents were not consulted before the new rates were announced.

He called for an urgent meeting to enable the agents and importers to come out with the grievances and arrive at affordable rates. A few workers of the insurance companies at the Port also held the view that the situation could throw people out of their jobs. In view of the event, the Clearing Agents in the transit trade are planning to embark on a demonstration to register their protest against the increment by the Ghana Insurance Company.

Earlier in the morning all clearing agents were seen standing in groups at the transit shed discussing the planned strike action. They expressed fears that the increment would throw them out of business. They said should the importers leave Ghana, the Tema Port, which was fat becoming the gateway to the West Africa Sub-Region was likely to lose its status and render workers redundant.

The clearing agents appealed to the government to give the situation an immediate attention before the situation escalated. 15 Sept. 03

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