The government of Cote d’Ivoire has given Ghanaian shippers a two month moratorium to clear all outstanding imports that pass through land borders that do not originate from ECOWAS member states into that country.
“At the end of the moratorium July 31st such goods will be considered as contraband and will be seized immediately by the Ivoirian Customs under article 290 of the Customs Code,” Dr. Kofi Mbiah, Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Shippers Authority stated.
Dr Mbiah called on the shipping community to take note of the Ivorian authority’s directive and act accordingly whilst further negations between the two countries continue.
The Ghana Shippers Authority has also advised the shipping community that documents required for clearance includes detailed invoice, packing list, copy of the transit declaration, way bill, a declaration which must be presented exclusively by the recognized Customs Agent.
The three-member delegation to Abidjan, which was led by the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Shippers Authority, Mr Emmanuel Martey, with the help of the Ghana Mission in Cote d’Ivoire, held meetings with stakeholders to allow the trucks to enter and deliver the goods to their owners.
Dr Mbiah also explained that following consultation with the Ivorian Authority, it had finally allowed stranded cargo trucks at the Elubo border to move into the country after being denied entry due to the ban.
He said the decision to allow the trucks entry was taken by the Ivorian authorities after negotiations by two delegations from Ghana which held series of meetings with officials in Abidjan and Elubo to get the Ivorian government to review the enforcement of a trade directive.
The directive is said to have been on the statutes of Cote d’ivoire since 2005 but had not been enforced until now.
He said the development has affected the business of freight forwarders, the livelihood of truck drivers and their conductors, and business dealings between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, while the congestion caused by the 59 trucks parked at the border also had negative environmental implications.
He said GSA team met the stranded drivers and officials of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) at the border and customs officials of Cote d’Ivoire separately.
A circular issued by the Ivorian Director General of Customs, Colonel Issa Coulibaly obtained by the Ghana News Agency ban the clearance of goods imported through the land borders.
It said cargoes originating from non ECOWAS member states, including car engines are banned from entering Cote d’Ivoire through the land borders.
“These goods, even if they are transiting through ECOWAS member states can only be cleared at the port of Abidjan or San Pedro after arriving by sea or by air,” the directives stated.
Sanctions for violation include confiscation of cargo, means of transport and container as well as culprit would pay a fine amounting to four times the cost of the goods but without prejudice to the payment of levies and taxes due.
In addition, a possibility of a prison sentence of six months to three years.
The directives said goods seized and or confiscated would be considered a property of the state and if necessary could be destroyed eventually.
According to the directives used vehicles imported into Cote d’Ivoire through the land borders are exempted; “therefore they should go through the right clearance procedure by completing declaration form in Abidjan.