Downed by the coronavirus pandemic, transporters of cargo are now seeing a steady rise in the volume of goods that they cart to landlocked countries which use the nation’s ports.
Shocks to supply chains and reduced industrial activities after the coronavirus outbreak curtailed cargo traffic through Ghana’s ports, reducing volumes for both transit and domestic hauliers.
But the situation is reversing gradually, according to Ibrahim Musa, the Executive Secretary of the Joint Association of Port Transport Unions (JAPTU), who sees brighter prospects due to the coming on stream of the single continental market.
“So far, on the state of the business, we think it’s good; but then we also believe it can even be better than it is now, especially with the take-off of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). This market now gives us access to the entire continent to do trade. So, we want to believe that with the expansion of our ports and the role that the Shippers Authority is playing, we should be able to move more cargo,” he told Business24 in an exclusive interview.
He said the single market presents huge opportunities for jobs and wealth creation along the cargo transport value chain.
“For us, anything that translates into more cargos means good news and good jobs for our members and, by extension, more revenue for the state. If cargo volumes are up and we are supposed to trade freely without barriers, it means that now, we are going to get greater access to certain countries,” he added.
However, to tap into this potential, Mr. Musa said policymakers would have to correct the ills of the cargo transport sector.
Citing the constraints of the Ecowas Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) as a test case, he said: “With ECOWAS there were significant trade barriers. Even though on paper you were supposed to have easy access, in practice it was different. We want to believe that ECOWAS has been a good test case for us to scale up to AfCFTA.”
JAPTU is a body of about 5,000 members from nine Ghanaian transport associations and includes truck owners, truckers and hauling companies.
As a union, it works to ensure that the right policies are implemented to make the transport environment more congenial for trade and also courts importers in landlocked nations to do business through Ghana’s ports.