transport and ports authority ghana

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Over the years, the Council has brought both institutional and infrastructural reforms in the shipping services through the Ministry of Transport and Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA). Currently, the Council is operating with “new software” which has registered over 17,000 Ghanaian shippers into its database (Ghana Shippers Council, 2005). This development has enabled the Council in utilising its intellectual capital to manage the demand side of shipping. However the footprint of the two major ports has reached its saturated points which require urgent pragmatic and sustainable approach. In Ghana lorries accounts for 95% estimate of the nations internal container movement which poses threats to the limited roads, creating congestions, increasing carbon emissions and partly responsible for the accidents on the roads (Mustapha, 2007).

The report writer worked with the Ghana Shippers' Council for a period of one year as a National Service Personnel. The reporter worked with the Project Development Planning Department where survey and research is carried out on the feasibility on any project within their jurisdiction which will benefit the shippers, port stakeholders and the nation as a whole. Therefore the report aims at strategic examination and development of inland port and railways network in Ghana. The envisage project will elaborate on the challenges and changes in the short, medium and long term, its sustainable importance to the organisation and the nation. The impact of logistics and supply chain on the project will be highlighted. Recommendations are made to enrich the actual execution of the project.


To begin with, it is significant to recognise the development of Ghana's seaborne trade. According to Branch (1996) more than 90% of the global trade which is undertaken by sea transport is shipped through containers. The rapid growth of international trade today has been fostered through increased utilisation of containerships. Moreover the accessibility of containerships to seaports has also improved the operations of supply chain activities (Min and Guo, 2004). According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), estimates of the total seaborne trade have quadrupled over the last four decades to estimated amount of 8.17billion tons in 2008 (UNCTAD, 2009). In Ghana the maritime industry which includes Ship-owners Agents Association of Ghana (SOAG) and Ghana Insitute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF) has also been dominant in regards to contribution to the economy. Ghana's two major active seaports, Tema Port and Takoradi Port (CIA, 2010) is regulated by the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (OT Africa Line's transport Report, 2006).

The efforts to create a transparent and conducive environment to promote efficiency in doing business in the ports led to the formation of the Ghana Shippers' Council whose main objective is to protect and promote the interest of the Ghanaian shippers. Over the years, Ghana's cargo throughput has increased from 5,481thousand metric tonnes in 1970 to 10, 954,967million metric tonnes in 2008 (Pedersen, 2001; Ghana Shippers' Council, 2009). The vast increment is as a result of population increase (CIA, 2010) over the decades which has remarkably influenced the high consumption rate of both domestic and international goods. The use of the seaports by the landlocked countries including Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger has also contributed to the increment. Roso (2008) claim that “population growth and increased economic activity result in growth of maritime container transport consequently creating growth of land surface freight transport”.

However the increments is presently affecting ports operations and business due to inadequate land space in the port area and beyond in terms of road congestion by influx of trucks resulting in slow turnaround time. And for Ghana's seaports to maintain its competitive edge over its competitors (neighboring ports), a more proactive approach is required to move cargo which is destined into the hinterlands and neighbouring landlocked countries away from the seaports. Caesar, et al. (2007) stated that the means by which people have shaped the landscape over time has become urgent for businesses and governments concerns about the sustainability of energy, transport, food, water, etc.


The Project Developement Planning Department of Ghana Shippers' Council (GSC) will collaborate with Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), the Ministry of Transportation and the private sectors to establish an inland or dry port with modern railway network in the country. This can be recognised as the means of using competition and community to provide the transportation services that the private market does not or cannot supply (Lang, 1999). The developement of the rail transport mode is as a result of the rising oil prices (Kent, 2008). Despite the fact that road transport in Ghana remains a major consumer of oil which affects the prices of all goods and services (Martey, 2006), in sustaining businesses and the transport sector the only effective alternative means will be the development of an extensive railway network. The envisage project is anticipated to be undertaken in fifteen years. These will be done within specific periods; short term (3-5 years), medium term (6-10 years) and long term (11-15 years). The projects are outline below;

  • Short term - construction of inland port in the nation second largest city, rehabilitation and expansion of the existing railway lines of Tema and Takoradi Ports.
  • Medium term - construction of railway lines from the inland port to the northern region of the country.
  • Long term - extension of the railway lines from the northern part of Ghana to Burkina Faso

3.1 The short term

The proposed inland port will be constructed in Boankra, a suburb of Kumasi the second capital city of Ghana after the capital, Accra. Kumasi was chosen for the project because of its strategic geographical location making it the key transportation link between the north and south of Ghana as shown in the figure 1. Moreover Kumasi forms a transport hub for both domestic and international road traffic, with significant trading activities occuring in its large local market (KPMG, 2008). The location of the inland port as shown in figure 2 will link the major ports to the shippers in inner parts of the country and beyound since majority of goods and services meant for northbound is conveyed through Kumasi. This can facilitate the transit trade of Ghana's landlocked countries including Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Roso and Leveque (2002, p.50) viewed an inland port as “an inland terminal directly connected to seaports(s) with high capacity of trannsport mean(s), where customers can leave/pick up their standardized units as if directly to a seaport.”

The Boankra Inland Port will provide services such as depot, storage, consolidation, track and monitoring, maintenance of containers and custom clearance (Woxenius et al., 2004). Meanwhile the country's century-old railway network in Tema and Takoradi will undergo rehabilitation, expansion and modernisation of the railway lines to link the Tema Port railway network through Koforidua and Nkawkaw to the Boankra Inland Port in Kumasi whereas Takoradi Port will manuevre through Huni Valley and Dunkwa. However the performance of the inland port will be determine by the quality of the road-rail interface and its access into the port as well as the behaviours of the port authorities, terminal operators, transport operators and freight forwarders (de Langen and Chouly, 2004). The project when managed properly could become Ghana's hub-and-spoke for container freights.

Furthermore the Council's main challenge at this stage of the project is getting the transportation and logistics companies, freight forwarders and clearing agents, exporters and importers to participate in the setup and the way the rail services will be run. Also the paradigm of transportation and doing business in the seaports will change as the shippers will be relieved of travelling to the Council to make complains of their shipment.

3.2 Medium term

Ghana Shippers' Council can capitalise on the construction of the Boankra Inland Port by providing railway network through which supplies can be made to the northern part of the country. Transportation services play a central role in the seamless supply chain activities, conveying inbound materials from upstream to manufacturing factilities, distribution centers and delivering finished products to downstream (Fox, 1993). According to Mustapha (2007) the country's railway system accounts for only 4% of the bulk hualage activity. And these activities is mainly centred in the south west of the country as shown in figure 1 due to the large minierals deposit in that region. So the medium term will involve two phases of the project. The first phase will focus on the construction of new standard guage railway lines from Kumasi to Bolgatanga in the Upper East region, whiles the second phase be focus on Kumasi to Tumu in the Upper West Region. As shown in the map (figure 1), from Kumasi, the construction of the railway track will pass through Kintampo-Buipe-Tamale-Bolgatanga on the north-east side whiles the north-west railway track will maneuvre through Wenchi-Bole-Wa-Tumu on the other side.

3.3 Long term

Similarly, the envisage blue-sky long term project will focus on the extension of the railway network from Bolgatanga in the extreme north of Ghana to Niamey, the capital city of Niger. The railway track will be extended from Bolgatanga-Navrongo-Po-Manga-Ouagadougou to Niamey. Ouagadougou is the capital city of Burkina Faso. The map of West Africa showing the landlocked countries is shown in figure 4 of the appendix. This will also support the flow of conatiner freight to and from the hinterlands in the landlocked countries especially the towns around the cities; Ouagadougou and Niamey

In implementation of the project, one of the biggest challenge in the medium and long term as claimed by Roso (2008) will be the intermodal procedures of the container movement system. Thus the administrative work and monitoring the arrangement of transhipment containers from the two major seaports directly onto the train for the on carriage to the inland port. Monitoring such freight requires an effective and efficient information and communication technology- software system that can assist in providing greater security and safety of container cargo (Rahimi et al., 2008).MoreoverGhana Shippers' Council must ensure that the construction of the inland port will reduce the total transit time of the cargo. Simultaneously the Council must ensure that the transportation cost will not exceed the earlier cost of using the road transportation. The software system will bring changes and improve the Council's duties. Thus by helping the Council in monitoring and accessing relevant maritime data of shippers, shippping lines and cargo throughputs for its research work. Though the software will speed up clearing and forwarding documantations, it will also help the council to recognize the revenue accrue to the government. Finally the project will help the Council to offer mutual assistance to shippers in the transport chain by communicating and exchanging relevant information relating to international trade.


The benefits of Boankra Inland Port to Ghana Shipper's Council, stakeholders, shippers and the nation as a whole is outlined below;


The project will decongest the nation's seaports. This will result to operational efficiency into the port thereby reducing the risk of lead times of ships and trucks which will be in the interest of all port users in their supply chain activities.

The project will enable the creation and promotion of Export Processing Zones around the inland port and its environs. Albaum et al. (2002) viewed export processing zones as an area where foreign manufacturers are exempted from taxes for the importation of intemediate goods and industrial regulations. It will also boost the domestic exportation of some resources including shea butter, cocoa and cocoa products, cola nuts, moringa, sesame seeds, wood and wood products which are cultivated in the middle and nort of the country.

The project will reduce the overall cost of transportation to importers and exporters from the middle and northern part of the country. Moreover the cost-effectiveness and operational efficiency of the major seaports will facilitate greater levels of international trade with the landlocked countries.

The creation of dry port will possibly increase the cargo throughput without physical expansion of the seaports.


According to Rahimi et al. 2008) the inland port will reduce the total truck-miles travelled. Mensah (2008) claim that it will also prevent over-aged lorries on the roads and eliminate the numerous checkpoints on the road since this factor contribute to the delay to shippers cargo. Equally, Asmah (2005) suggested that the envisage project will curtail heavy road traffic and congestion, high road maintenance costs, road accidents and environmentall polution.


Finally the project will intensify the creation and development of communities around the inland port and railway terminals. These because of the basic infrastructural aminities such as water supply, electricity, sewage, telecomminications, estates, etc which will be provided and other auxillary supoort services including banks, hospitals, etc at these areas. These social supports enable people to live and work with dignity. Transportation connect communities in the economic shadows to areas where there is high economic activity (Marketing Development & Consulting Group, 2001). Thus the transportation connect the community with distant markets areas and business centres, people and eductional options. Therefore intermodal transportation will lead to rapid socio-economic growth in the country through job creation. This will reduce or eliminate the human assets lost through road accidents.

Above all the fact that extensive railway network and commercial use of the inland waterway ensures less environmental impact, the implementation of the project itself in finding an amicable way of improving freight is sustainable.


International competition couple with integration of supply chain activities is continually transforming the design of products which is moved throughout the world by various transport maodes (Prasad and Sounderpandian, 2003). Mentzer et al. (2001) claim that the collaboration of logistical flow has generally been recognised as the prerequisite for supply chain development. In order to increase the efficiency of supply chains, the logistics and freight management industry including container ports is experiencing critical need for an efficient and flexible integration of multimodal transportation infrastructutre such as road, railways and waterways and interamodal transportation services (Fierro and Benitez, 2009).

The principal characteristics of the inland port as an intermodal platform covering rail and road from the seaports is because of its strategic geographical location linking the middle and north light manufacturing and consumer centres of the country. According to Fierro and Benitez (2009) the intermodality will also assist the integration of the operations and implies decisive synergies in the logistics chain required by distribution channels and logistics operators to distributors, wholesalers, importers and exporters, factories, end-users and consumers. Since the accessibility of the transportation modes to customers and warehouse locations, delivery time, reliability and costs eventually also determines the efficiency of the supply chain (Rodrigue, 2008). Therefore the construction of the Boankra Inland Port will create a distinct environment for the creation, development and propagation of knowledge in the areas of logistics and supply chain especially relating to the shipment of commodities.

Rail freighting offer the advantage of moving large quantity of cargo over long distances at greater speed (CIPS, 2003) which will help in curtailing the freight traffic from the nation's limited and congested roads. Gubbins (1988) claim that rail freghting is most economical or cheaper per tonne-kilometre in complete train load operations compared to the road freight. Research conducted by Bohlen et al. (1993) revealed that freight transport by rail contruibutes fewer environmental nuisances than road in regrads to noise pollution and carbon dioxide emissions thereby making it more environmentally-friendly. Similarly, based on consistent studies and findings, Whitelegg (1997) pointed out that generally rail is approximately three and a half times more fuel efficient than truck on a ton-miles per gallon basis.

According to Roso (2007) the railway network linking the major seaports to the inland port reduces numerous lorries on road (one train can substitute some 30-35 lorries). The repercussion is the reduction of number of lorries on the roads congestion, delays, accidents, road maintenance costs and carbon emission. In support of this, Ellwanger (1990) claim that rail freighting has a better safety records compared to the road transport. Besides comparing the land-based modes, the rail transport network is least affected by bad weather. Furthermore Hammah (2009) claim that the attempt to introduce the axle-load limit for loaded trucks in Ghana has failed due to lack of support from its neighbouring countries, hence the constuction of the railway will protect and prevent the roads from being damaged by the loaded lorrries.


The draft of the project proof beyound every doubt that Ghana's economy will be boosted with the establishment of the inland port and construction of an extensive railway network to augment the roadways which is the major mode in the country. Ghana Shippers' Council will also be able to generate enough funds for the organisation and the government since the container shipping companies are oblige to pay some percentage amount of containers to be exported or imported.

Ghana will make history if this project becomes a reality since South Africa is the only African country that has an extensive railway network in the continent. Moreover the intermodal and integrated logistics platforms will attract new businesses, warehouses, light manufacturing and building of new industrial plants ito Ghana. The projects will have significant reductions in truck-mile travelled and that railways still remains one of the most sustainable means of freight transportation.


It is possible to make a number of proposals and recommendations in view of the fact that the implementation of the project will face some identifiable challenges.

Construction of shippers' centers: it is imperative to create branch offices of Ghana Shippers' Council across the country at vantage places to create the medium for the creation of a freight market in Ghana, who will also be checking the smooth running of the intermodal services.

Provision of handling equipments: The Council must collaborate with all the public and private stakeholders to provide efficient and effective adequate container handling equipments at vantage points along the railway tracks in oredr to facilitate and speed up the turn arount time of the trains.

Addressing the challenges of IT: The success of the intermodal service will depend on the software programmes that will help in monitoring and tracking the containers from the port, during the rail journey to the inland port or beyound.

Human resource capacity: The overall success of the whole project will hugly depend on the human capital to be involved in the general execution of the project.

Macro-economic stability: It equally significant for Ghana's economy to be stable and growing since the main objective of the railway construction is to reduce the cost of container transportation better than that of the lorries. Failure to achieve sound macro-economic viability will not make the project viable.


PEST Analysis of Ghana


Ghana enjoys good governance with low political risk

Suitable policies and business friendly environment that promotes and protects foreign direct investment (FDI)

Less restrictive measures on carbon emission especially from the transport sector because road is the only major transport mode in the country.


Ghana has inadequate transport network system

Capita coat


Ghana has high and skilled labour force


Developing its technology base to support domestic businesses and FDI

Boankra Inland Port


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