On Monday 6thand Tuesday 7thMay, 2019, a three (3) member team represented JAPTU at a meeting of the Monitoring Mission of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS). The two (2) day meetings came off at the Debrah Conference Hall of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Accra.

The objective of the monitoring mission of the Task Force was to review the commitments made by the Government of Ghana and to assess the status of the implementation of the recommendations made during the advocacy mission carried out from 24-28 April, 2017 as stated in the Aide Memoir of the earlier mission. Furthermore, the mission of the Task Force included working sessions and debriefing with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey (Mrs)

The six (6) member ECOWAS Task Force comprised:

  1. E Djibo Salou (President of ETLS Task Force)
  2. Nwagwu Julius (Member of ETLS Task Force)
  3. Okaoha Ken (Member of ETLS Task Force)
  4. Gnankambary Moustapha (Permanent Secretary of ETLS Task Force)
  5. Hamoui Ziad (National President – Ghana Borderless Alliance)
  6. Amporful Ernest (Dirctor of ECOWAS Unit, Min. of Foreign Affairs & Regional Integration)

Also in attendance at the meetings were senior officers from the Ghana Police Service, Ghana Immigration Service, Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Ghana Shippers’ Authority, Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), OLAM, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI) and the Joint Association of Port Transport Union (JAPTU). These institutions were represented by the following officers:

  1. Emmanuel Quao (ETLS Focal Point for Ghana & Deputy Director, GEPA)
  2. Maxwell Osei-Kusi (Director, GEPA & Vice Chairman NAC of ETLS)
  3. George Alex Mensah (Director of Police Operations, GPS)
  4. Jame Oppong-Boanuh (Deputy Inspector General of Police)
  5. Owusu Frempong Sampson (Supply Chain Manager, OLAM –Ghana)
  6. Abdul Rahamani Muniru (Vice Chairman – Joint Association of Port Transport Union)
  7. Alhaji Shamsu Babayaro (Acting Chairman – Joint Association of Port Transport Union)
  8. Ibrahim Musah (Executive Secretary – Joint Association of Port Transport Union)
  9. Simon Asare (Head Supt. International Relations – Ghana Immigration Service)
  10. Nora Marmon-Halm (Dep. International Relations & Co-operations – Ghana Immigration Service)
  11. Shamau Tijani (Assistant Director, IIB, Min. of Foreign Affairs & Regional Integration)
  12. Edward Ashong-Lartey (Director, Investor Services – Ghana Investment Promotions Centre)
  13. Evelyn Nyarko (Dep. Director, Investor Services – Ghana Investment Promotions Centre)
  14. Audrey Nuamah (Commercial Officer – Ministry of Trade and Industry)
  15. Fred Asiedu-Dartey (Head of Freights & Logistics – Ghana Shippers’ Authority)
  16. Bashiru-Dine A. Haki (Senior Freights and Logistics Officer –Ghana Shippers’ Authority)

The JAPTU delegation, at the meetings, was particularly interested in matters concerning the free movement of haulage trucks along the transit road corridor. The delegation made strong submission on specific such as the number of police and customs check points along the routes and the frequency of illicit payments that drivers are compelled to pay along the routes. Much as the JAPTU delegation indicated their support for measures put in place by the Ghana Police Service to ensure safety and security along the transit corridor, the delegation however, expressed concern over the blatant use of such interventions by some errant police officers to demand illicit payments from drivers. The JAPTU Team recommended to the meeting to explore possible options of, introducing a standardized protocol for transit vehicles at these check points and also for the police hotlines to be more publicized for drivers and travellers along the transit route to use.

The Team also took the opportunity, provided by the meeting to highlight the critical role being played by JAPTU and its affiliates from landlock West African countries such as O.T.R.A.F from Burkina Faso, Conseil Malien des Transporteur Routers from Mali and Syndicat National des Transporteurs Mechandise du Niger in the prevention of diversion of transit cargo and guaranteeing stability of transit cargo haulage fares in Ghana despite the hikes in critical inputs such as fuel, tires and other vehicle parts. This meeting also gave JAPTU the rear opportunity to contribute to both national trade policies and the ECOWAS Trade Liberation Scheme. JAPTU also used the platform to establish formal relationships with top officials of strategic state institutions such as the Ghana Police Service, Ghana Immigration Service, Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and OLAM. JAPTU also called upon the leadership of CEPS of GRA to organize re-orientation programs for customs officers along the transit corridor to bring them up to speed with the standard procedures and protocols for transit trucks when they suffer hazards that result in delays in completing their journey within the stipulated periods. For JAPTU, this orientation is imperative as the situation on the ground is seriously at variance with what is explained as the standard procedure for the handling of such situations.

The JAPTU Team also used the opportunity to commend Ghana Borderless Alliance and its National President, Mr. Hamoui Ziad for their tireless efforts and commitment in the facilitation of free movement by working to remove obstacles to free movement of goods and people within the ECOWAS sub-region. The Team recounted instances were Borderless Alliance has had to intervene in order to ensure that the rights to free movement of transit haulage trucks were not unduly curtailed or frustrating.

Key take away for JAPTU from these meetings was the expression of interest by the top brace of the Ghana Police Service, Ghana Immigration Service and the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to hold further meetings with the leadership as well as the rank and file of JAPTU to discuss how JAPTU could strengthen its collaboration and co-operation with these institutions and make the operations of JAPTU and its members more effective and efficient by working together to remove all barriers that may be impeding the smooth operations of JAPTU members.