Tema, April 15, GNA- With effect from May one, 2004, all homogeneous full container loads of food, drugs, and chemicals, including agro-chemicals which constitute the bulk of high risk goods will be scanned at the Tema port.
However, samples of the goods would be collected after scanning from the premises of importers for testing and verification by the Ghana Standards Boards as to whether they conform to specifications and standards, Mr Alan Kyeremanten, Minister of Trade, Industry and President Special Initiative (PSI) announced on Thursday at Tema.
He was commissioning a 3.2-million-dollar fixed gamma-ray container cargo scanning machine at the eastern gate of the Tema port. The scanner, the second at the Tema port is to enhance trade facilitation to ensure that bottlenecks in the clearing and forwarding of goods at the port were reduced to the barest minimum and also speed up clearance of goods.
Nick TC-Scan Limited, a private company with Ghanaian and Chinese partners, installed it.
The Gateway Services Limited (GSL) and Scanning Company (SCANCO) installed the first scanning machine in 1998.
The scanning machines had phased out the Pre-shipment Inspection Scheme as well as the physical examination of goods, which delayed clearing procedure of cargo from the port.
Mr Kyeremanten said it has become necessary to reduce the number of consignments subjected to physical examination at customs from an average of 60 per cent in 2002 to an average of ten per cent for statutory free goods and 200 per cent for dutiable goods by the end of 2004.
This is to reduce the dwell-time of containers and the turn-around time of ships.
In this regard, the mandatory physical inspection of all high-risk goods, which constitute about 60 per cent of total annual imports of Ghana has been reviewed, he stated.
The Ministry, he said, is contemplating holding discussions with stakeholders on the possibility of scanning some export goods at the Tema port and the Kotoka International Airport to improve the overall security at the port and minimize illegal shipments.
Mr. Kyeremanten said the Ministry is implementing a "New Industrial Reform and Accelerated Growth Agenda" for the trade and industry sector to develop a vibrant, technology driven, competitive industrial sector to contribute to economic growth and employment creation.
According to him, the development of a comprehensive trade policy, which will provide clear and transparent positions aimed at developing the trade and productive sectors in Ghana is in the pipeline. Such a document, will not only provide the work programme for the Ministry in the area of trade, but also provide guidance for government to ensure that trade policies in Ghana are consistent across the whole spectrum of trade policies instruments, including those outside the purview of the Ministry.
Mr Kyeremanten said it will in addition provide the private sector with a firm policy direction statement improving "certainty" in the trade environment and encouraging greater participation from other sectors of the economy.
The Tema harbour has been handling large volumes of goods in transit to neighbouring landlocked countries and these demand efficient and expedited clearing system.
Professor Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi, Minister of Ports, Harbours and Railways noted that the full utilization of the two scanners at the port would enable Ghana fulfil some of the requirements for the implementation of the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS) which will become effective in July, 2004.
He said the scanner will not only help detect illegal importation of drugs, arms and ammunition, and other unmanifested items but would enable the Customs Excise and Preventive Service detect nefarious activities and hardened smugglers and criminals.
Brigadier Richardson Baiden, Commissioner of Customs said as revenue officers, they have a duty to know the limitations of the technologies they use and put in place measures to curtail attempts to evade duties and taxes by unscrupulous individuals.
Mr Cyril Schandorf, Director of the Radiation Protection Institute of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission said the investors have satisfied the security requirements of the equipment and have subjected all their staff to training to handle them efficiently.
Mr Nick Danso Adjei, Director of Nick TC-Scan Limited described the facility as safe, fast and reliable to serve in the trade links in Ghana to boost the economy.