Source: Daily Graphic Ghana - Large quantities of medical supplies, theatre beds and equipment belonging to the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Ghana Health Service (GHS) have been left uncleared at the Tema Port since 2013.
Eighteen containers of medical supplies and equipment, some said to have been funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), are at the port, while public health institutions such as the Police Hospital solicit support from corporate bodies to procure basic health delivery equipment such as drip stands, nebulisers, wheelchairs, stretchers, and consumables for their operations.
Items ranging from disabled syringes, fixed needles, relief goods, as well as helmets, are among those in the containers which are being kept in the state warehouse at the port.
It is believed that oxygen concentrators, ventilators and nebulisers could be among the supplies in the containers and there are fears that the consumables could expire if they are not cleared within the shortest possible time.
The Daily Graphic has gathered that majority of the items were abandoned by the MoH, the GHS and individual importers after they realised that the cost of insurance and freight was high and they could not afford to pay the handling charges, among other costs.
It is believed that some of the items, which are for individuals and meant for charity but for which their owners were unable to get tax exemptions, have left huge demurrage costs accruing on them.
The July 29, 2015 edition of the Commercial and Industrial Bulletin on overstayed goods published by the Assembly Press had served notice to the public of intended auction sale of the items after the mandated 21 days and an extended 14-day period of grace.
Similar publications made on December 31, 2014, April 25, 2015 and May 6, 2015 outlined the processes for the auction to be carried out after the notification period had elapsed.
The Daily Graphic has gathered that the first batch of auctions was carried out on August 11, 2015 and there are indications of a second batch to be conducted in the ensuing weeks.
The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Ministry of Health, Mr Tony Goodman, however, told the Daily Graphic that officials of the Procurement Department of the ministry said they had no knowledge of supplies that had been abandoned at the port.
"I can also not confirm whether our technical people have seen the notice served in the gazette, as I am also yet to sight the said notice,” he said.
The Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), which imported insulators, cables, transformers and galvanised steel, is also listed in the publication.
Electrical cables imported by the Ministry of Energy, as well as fire protection and detection equipment imported by the Volta River Authority (VRA), were also included.
Perhaps the financial woes that have over the years crippled operations of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) might have prompted its officials to also abandon at the port container loads of chemical additives for processing petroleum products, spare parts, firefighting foam, water pumps and self-adhesive plates and sheets, among others, since 2013.
Other state institutions such as the Ghana Cocoa Board, the Ghana Water Company Limited, the University of Ghana, the Bank of Ghana, and the University of Health and Allied Sciences, among other organisations, too have consignments listed in the gazette.
Private organisations such as Total Ghana, Newmont Ghana, Golden Star Wassa Limited, Ernest Chemists, Osons Chemists, and
Ecobank Ghana, among others, also have quantities of abandoned cargo also listed in the publication.
When contacted, the Senior Shipping Officer of the VRA, Mr Bernard Sam Cudjoe, told the Daily Graphic that he was not aware of the importation of such items by the authority.
According to him, the VRA had contractors who imported items on its behalf for projects.
“We only come in to do the documentation and the clearing when we are informed about items consigned. We have not even sighted the publication in the gazette. So now that I am hearing this from you, I will follow up to check which contractor imported the items,” he added.
The occupancy of space by these consignments has become a major concern for the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) as a result of the loss of revenue.
The continued occupancy of space at the port, according to the Marketing and Public Relations Manager at the Tema Port, Mr Paul Ansah Asare, minimised the capacity of the port to handle cargo.
He said there were times the GPHA had to return refrigerated containers to their original destination as a result of the lack of space at the port area.
Mr Ansah stressed that apart from the GPHA losing space and rent, it was also incurring a huge cost on electricity for refrigerated containers.
"We expect that potential importers would seek information on transactions, as well as items that the law permits, before importation is done," he said.
He explained that importers and agencies seeking to do port transactions ought to fully understand the transaction process, as well as the conditions and the regulatory framework guiding transactions.
He expressed worry that people bringing in items meant for charity failed to seek the right information before importing the items.
"They assume that once the items are meant for charity, tax exemptions are automatic. They only run after exemptions after the items had arrived and they begin to attract demurrage,” he pointed out.
He called on importers and government agencies to seek information on who had the ability as agents to transact business on their behalf.
"The Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF), as well as the GPHA, is the appropriate avenue for accurate information on processes and procedures where there are doubts. When they have difficulties and challenges, they must contact the port authority for assistance in clearing those goods,” Mr Ansah said.
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