59 Trucks choke Elubo Border as law in Cote d’Ivoire restricts movement

Fifty-nine cargo trucks loaded with goods from the ports of Ghana have been denied entry into Cote d’Ivoire, in line with the enforcement of a trade directive by the Ivorian Ministry of Finance.

The truck drivers have, for nearly a fortnight, become stranded at the Elubo-Noe Border.

The Ivorian government, per the new directive, insists that only cargo originating from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member countries will be allowed into Cote d’Ivoire, while goods from other parts of the world should be cleared at the seaport.

It is said the directive has been in the books of Cote d’Ivoire since 2005 but is now being enforced. Long queue of trucks 

The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA), Dr Kofi Mbiah, told the Daily Graphic that the authority received information through its shipper complaints and information centre at Elubo that “long queues of trucks have not received clearance to enter Cote d’Ivoire”.

He said the authority then contacted the Cote d’lvoire Shippers Council, which indicated that its Ministry of Finance had directed that only cargo from ECOWAS could come by road, while all others should be landed at the seaports.

“So you cannot bring goods from Brazil and clear them at the Tema Port in Ghana and then send consignments to your business counterparts in Cote d’Ivore through cargo trucks. It means if goods are shipped to Ghana, they could be sent to Cote d’Ivoire by sea but once they are sent by road, the owner contravenes the law,” the Cote d’Ivoire authority said. Delegation 

He said a delegation from the GSA would be sent to negotiate with the Cote d’Ivoire counterparts today on how the trucks, which did not know about the directive, could offload their goods and also because they had consignments for people in Cote d’Ivoire.

He said the authority was also working on how it could get the directive reviewed in the light of business transactions between the two countries. 

Since the information was received, he said, “we have been back and forth with the Ivorian Shippers Council, trying to get its Ministry of Finance to issue an order to allow the trucks to enter Cote d’Ivoire. It has not been easy”.

Strict adherence to that directive, he stated, had the tendency of impacting on trade between the two countries. 

The development, he said, had negative consequences on the business of freight forwarders, the livelihood of truck drivers and their conductors, business dealings between the two countries, adding that “to have 59 trucks parked at the border also has environmental implications”.  Lack of communication 

The Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the GSA, Mr Emmanuel Martey, said the problem was as a result of the lack of sufficient notice on the directive by the Ivorians.   

“The GSA and the Ministry of Transport are working with their Ivorian counterparts to find a lasting solution to the problems that may emanate from the enforcement of this directive,” he said.

In the meantime, he advised shippers, transit operators, hauliers and freight forwarders to take note of the directive in their business transactions with Cote d’Ivoire.

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