The cost of delivering a container from Tema port to Ouagadougou is more than seven times the cost of delivering the same container from Newark, New Jersey to Chicago in the United States of America.

It also takes approximately 13 to 22 days to bring a container from a vessel in Tema port to the importer in Ouagadougou, costing US$4,800. Whilst from Newark to Chicago it costs about $650 and takes just five days. This is remarkable when labor costs in the U.S. are 25 times higher.

West Africa Trade Hub Transport Director, Mr. Niels Rasmussen said: “After completing the customs-clearance process in Tema, trucks leave on a three to five-day journey (881 km) to Paga at the Ghana-Burkina Faso border.

“However many trucks are in poor condition and therefore often break down or have accidents along the road. Because of this the journey from Tema to Paga can take more than a week.

“Along the roads in Ghana, drivers encounter about 15 control points operated primarily by police and customs agents. These barriers cause on average a total of 160 minutes delay and the payment of the equivalent of US$11.84 in bribes between Tema and Paga. These bribes are paid by the transporter and are included in the trucking price.”

Mr. Rasmussen made these known at a launch of a comprehensive study of transport and logistics costs on the Tema-Ouagadougou corridor report in Accra.

He explained the problems at Tema port can be resolved by reducing congestion at the port and streamlining port and customs procedures. “The high costs related to the trucking leg for both import and export is best resolved by deregulating the trucking market in the ECOWAS region, while the high level of informal payments incurred
during the clearance process at Ouagarinter would be greatly reduced if ECOWAS governments were successful in establishing a single market with no internal borders.

“The impact on trade would be significant, making it easier for West African companies to compete in a globalized world while lowering the prices of goods for consumers and producers within the region,” he said.

He indicated that the study identifies the time and delays as well as official and unofficial costs incurred at various points in the transport chain as the goods travel along the Ouagadougou- Tema corridors. Some costs are paid directly by the importers whereas others are paid by the forwarders and transporters and are included in the price of their services.

The study is also aimed at providing importers and exporters with the information they need to take informed decisions about choosing the transport corridor that offers the fastest, most cost-effective and reliable quality service.

It will as well provide traders with the information they need to lobby governments effectively for appropriate reforms, better transport infrastructure, more streamlined import and export procedures, less corruption and the elimination of unnecessary delays.

Tema port is the country’s main gateway to international trade and the country’s most important port for transit traffic to the Sahelien landlocked countries.

Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) has invested a lot to promote transit trade, conducting marketing campaigns in the landlocked countries, operating an office in Burkina Faso, leasing port land to landlocked countries to develop their own storage facilities, and building transit sheds and truck parking facilities.

In 2008, the Tema port handled nearly 8.7 million tonnes of imports constituting about two-thirds of port throughput; exports account for about one-third.
Containerized cargo amounted to 4.8 million tones, or 55 percent of total tonnage.

Tema is the country’s most important container port, handling close to 550,000 20-feet equivalent units in 2008. Since 2003, annual transit traffic has remained fairly stable at about 850,000 tonnes. About 85 percent of Tema transit cargo is transported to/from Mali, Burkina Paso and Niger.

Credit: B&FT