The marketing and customer services manager of the Takoradi port, Mr. Paul Ansah has told The Chronicle in an exclusive chat that there is no iota of truth in the claim being made by a section of the public that the Takoradi Port was dead and not performing as it used to in the past.
According to him, the current performance of the port was unprecedented in the 76 year-old history of the port as revenue had kept on going up for the past five years. Employment of casual laborers who usually troop to the port to look for jobs on daily basis had also gone up considerably within the period under review.
He said last year alone, about 130,000 jobs were created for these casual laborers and the figure might likely go up this year.
Apart from the above achievement, warehouses, which hitherto were not known in the metropolis had also started to spring up with each warehouse employing substantial casual laborers.
Transport owners have also got business to do, with some of them earning around ¢300million a week through the carting of cargo from the port to the various warehouses.
According to the customer service manager, caterers in the metropolis and local food vendors had also not been left out as they had been getting constant orders to supply food to crew members who called at the port.
Various petrol filling stations in the metropolis are also having their fair share of the cake as the articulator trucks operating from the port continue to patronize their businesses.
Hotel business, which was later confirmed by a hotelier, had also started to boom in the metropolis. Mr. Ansah who was being interviewed on the current performance of the port and what to expect in future, said though the port could not compare itself to that of Tema because of the environment they were operating in, it was still operating to its maximum capacity, based on the facilities they had.
According to him, a survey conducted by the Ghana Investment Promotion Center revealed that Takoradi had only 5% of our industrial development whilst Accra-Tema had over 80% and Kumasi, 12%. This low development, he continued, was affecting the port because there was no “raw material” from its catchment area to feed the port as Tema was enjoying.
With this setback staring them in the face, he said the current managers of the port decided to re-strategize in the area of its operations to put the port back on track since they could no more continue to rely on the export of manganese, bauxite and the importation of clinker which were the core business bringing revenue to the port. Besides, it does not need more hands to handle these export materials at the port. In a nutshell, employment of people, especially the casual laborers was cut, which resulted in the hue and cry in the metropolis and branding of the port as a non-performing one.
They therefore decided to go in for the transit trade where importers from the land-locked countries like Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali import their goods through the port.
Management had earlier done aggressive marketing to introduce the port to these land locked countries. This, he continued, began the turning point of the Takoradi port and the booming of businesses in the metropolis.
Mr. Ansah said when the transit cargo was introduced in the year 2002, the port was able to handle 19,000 tonnes. The figure rose up to 160,000 tonnes the following year and then to as high as 170,000 tonnes last year.
He further told The Chronicle that the problem they were encountering now was lack of warehouses in the metropolis. They have therefore decided to construct two giant warehouses within the premises of the port at the total cost of ¢34 billion to handle cargo that are on short transit.
He said the private sector had also responded to their call and started putting up giant warehouses across the metropolis to meet the demand of the transit cargo.
Indeed, because of the collapse of the business, some of the timber firms have started turning their premises into warehouses where, according to The Chronicle investigation, they are making around $50,000 annually from importers using these warehouses.
According to Mr. Ansah, the 170,000 tonnes success they chalked last year constituted only 5% of the transit cargo trade in the West African sub region and to him, if the private sector got more involved and put up warehouses, the business boom that would erupt in Sekondi-Takoradi would be unprecedented in the history of the twin city.
“If with only 5%, business has started to boom in the metropolis, with people, especially the youth getting more jobs to do, imagine what will happen if we have the facilities to do 20% of this transit cargo trade,” he said.
Mr. Ansah who took time off his heavy schedule to take this reporter round all the warehouses being put up by private businessmen, appealed to residents in the metropolis to take advantage of this and make money by constructing more warehouses for business to continue to flourish in the metropolis.
He noted also that because the port was being utilized to its fullest at the moment, management had decided to expand it by reclaiming part of it from the sea and also doing more dredging to allow big time vessels to dock at the port.
All the expansion work would cost about $250 million. He therefore appealed to corporate bodies and individuals to help the government source money for the project to take off on timea to meet the ever-increasing demand.
He revealed also that management was working hard to create land banks around the port because of the anticipated growth they were expecting.