Ghana suspends implementation of controversial cargo tracking note

The Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA) – the Ghanaian counterpart of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) – has suspended the controversial cargo tracking note it introduced on 2nd April 2015.

Popularly called Electronic Cargo Tracking Note (ECTN) or Advanced Shipment Information System (ASHI) in the old British Gold Coast, it was made mandatory for all imports into Ghana and operated by Antaser Afrique – the same company behind Nigeria’s version of the controversial scheme.

The ECTN in Ghana was promoted by GSA as “an electronic platform by which relevant shipment information is received in advance of a vessel’s arrival to facilitate pre-arrival clearance processes”.

Antaser Afrique was appointed sole representative in charge of the issuance and validation of the ECTN through its dedicated web portal, www.antaser.com.

All shippers and forwarders of cargo destined for a seaport in Ghana were required to register on the web portal and create an electronic account, like the Nigerian Shippers’ Council’s version called advanced cargo tracking note (ACTN).

Charges for Ghana’s ECTN were 20 euros per 300 metric tons (mt) for bulk cargo; 20 euros per 100mt for conventional cargo; 20 euros per 4 TEUs of containers; 20 euros per 3 units of vehicles less than 5mt and 20 euros per unit of vehicles of 5mt and above.

But as complaints by Ghanaian importers over the additional costs imposed by the ECTN mounted, the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA) realised the futility of the scheme and suspended it less than a month to its implementation.

“Therefore, until further notice, imports to Ghana will continue without the requirement of the ECTN or ASHI on the part of the suppliers, exporters or their forwarders.

“The Ghana Shippers’ Authority remains committed to working on further engagements, with a view to reducing the bottlenecks associated with the clearance process through the increased reliance on credible documentation,” GSA stated in a notice to shipping lines.

The suspension followed a protest by stakeholders including the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) and Ghana National Chamber of Commerce & Industry (GNCCI) among others who threatened to hit the streets over its implementation.

The importers insisted that whatever the ECTN or ASHI aimed at doing was already being taken care of by the ship manifest and Customs documentation.

Confirming the indefinite suspension, the Public Relations Officer of the Ghana Shippers Authority, Asiedu Dartey said the suspension would allow for more engagement with shippers and freight forwarders.

Stakeholders including importers, freight forwarding associations and the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) have all protested against the additional cost burden imposed by the implementation of the cargo tracking note by the Nigeria Shippers’ Council. They have all variously called on the Federal Government to suspend the scheme until the controversies surrounding its implementation are resolved.

MAN said it had directed its members not to pay the controversial levy.

“They are trying to bring it through the back door now by changing the name. We have already written a protest letter to them that we are not going to pay. We are not interested in knowing how much it will cost because whatever it is, we have already told them it is wrong.

“It will add to the cost of production for our members and we are opposed to it,” MAN President, Frank Jacobs said. 

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