The Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) has been given two weeks to auction every container at the Tema Harbour which has stayed beyond the stipulated 60-day period.
According to the directive, 800 of the over-stayed 2,500 containers have already been gazetted and must be auctioned within the given period.
Ports,Harbours and Railways (PHR) Minister, Professor Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi, who gave the order during a visit to the harbour at the weekend, said the auction was necessary to create the urgently needed space as part of the government's port expansion project.
He explained that apart from comforming to the rules and regulations on how the harbour should be used, the decision was also necessary to enable the managing authorities to adopt tougher security measures to deal with petty thefts.
The minister, who visited the container terminals and most of the vital areas of the port in the company of the Security Manager of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), Major Yaw Asomoah-Duodu (retd), and the President of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF), explained that the government's programme of expansion would be defeated if over-stayed containers were allowed to occupy urgently needed space.
A source who talked to the Graphic during the visit but pleaded anonymity, said most of the containers arrived stuffed with goods but with time they had been emptied of their contents. The source added that it was now difficult to track down those who had been involved in such deals since some of the containers had been there for more than three years.
The minister said that spontaneous checks had become necessary to confirm reports his office received about the manner in which business was conducted during the weekends. Prof Ameyaw-Akumfi however, expressed concern about how individuals roamed the harbour area.
In some instances during the minister's rounds he personally interrogated people and wanted to find out under what authority they had entered the harbour and for what reasons.
Prof Ameyaw-Akumfi noted that it was necessary to restrict entry to such a place in order to create confidence in importers and exporters and assured them that their goods were safe.