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GPHA upgrades IT infrastructure • Move to integrate other systems

By: Maclean Kwofi
 Mr Michael Luguje, Director General, GPHA

THE Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) is upgrading its information technology (IT) infrastructure to help other agencies at the ports to integrate their systems to improve the paperless clearance systems.

Towards that end, he explained that GPHA had begun discussions with the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) for the two institutions to integrate their systems.

“GPHA is upgrading its IT infrastructure to ensure that its systems are strengthen enough to ensure fast progression on the paperless system when the integration is done,” the Director General of the authority, Mr Michael Luguje, disclosed this to the GRAPHIC BUSINESS on the sidelines of a forum on paperless systems at the port in Accra.

The forum, which is an initiative of the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA), was aimed at bringing stakeholders in the shipping industry together to undertake a comprehensive review of the system after its first year of implementation.

It was on the theme: ‘One-Year of Paperless Port System: Review of Achievements, Challenges and Way Forward.’

The forum also served as a platform for importers and exporters, freight forwarders, shipping lines and their agents, customs officials and port and shipping authorities to affirm their commitment to help improve the system.

GPHA attain 99%
Beyond the infrastructure upgrades, the General Manager in-charge of Marketing and Corporate Affairs of GPHA, Mrs Esther Gyebi-Donkor, indicated that the authority had attained 99 per cent paperless in its processes.

She noted that with the integration of GPHA’s IT systems with GCNet, information from shipping lines, manifest, and GPHA’s billing system had all been made electronic.

She added that associated banks such as Ecobank Ghana Limited and the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) Limited had also been integrated into the GCNet system so their information was also acquired electronically.

 She noted that strategies were being undertaken to enable customers to pay remotely online instead of walking to banks to make physical payments.

“Consolidated cargoes are not captured currently in the paperless system and charged stakeholders especially the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to make provision for defining the inspection of consolidated goods, in the paperless process, to ensure maximum efficiency,” she stated.

Importers to access information
Mrs Gyebi-Donkor said GPHA was putting in place a system to allow importers to access information and the amount of handling charges to be paid to create a transparent system for importers and the trading public.

She added that the occasion that characterised paper processes was when there were challenges in receiving payment information from the banks, whiles payment had been made by customers.

According to her, it was in this instant that customers were required to provide hardcopies of invoices.

“Although to a large extent, GPHA’s processes have been paperless, there is still a lot more to do in order to perfect the system,” she said.

More collaboration
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the GSA, Ms Benonita Bismarck, said the forum was organised to bring stakeholders in the shipping industry together to undertake a comprehensive review of the system after its first year of implementation.

“While commendable achievements are visible, the paperless system, one year after its implementation, cannot be said to be 100 per cent, as there are still requests for additional documents in hard copy,” she said.

In this regard, she indicated that the ideals of the paperless were achievable because the necessary institutional structures had already been firmly established.

 She added that more collaboration among industry players were needed to encourage the system to work effectively.

GUTA gives paperless thumbs-up
The First Vice-President of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), Mr Patrick Osei-Brogya, scored the initiative 63 per cent for easing business transactions at the ports, although, he maintained there was room for improvement.

He urged port authorities to endeavour to integrate their systems to make it possible for shippers to pay duties in all the financial institutions in the country.

He said paperless had eliminated the various challenges that were impeding clearance and raising cost of operation.—GB