The Ghana transport ministry recently announced that the government by the end of this year would partner a private sector investor to complete the Boankra inland port and finally link it to the Tema and Takoradi ports through the development of the eastern corridor rail way lines. The inland port which is situated in the middle belt of the country has for some time now faced a major challenge of effective linkage to the sea ports (Tema and Takoradi) hindering its effective utilization.
With most existing rail lines in the country being a bit colonial biased, thus built purposely to serve the interest of colonial masters by linking mineral mining centers to the ports ,it became necessary for the country to redevelop existing lines and also develop new ones to serve modern purposes and address current transportation challenges ,hence the development of the eastern corridor rail lines.
Many academic literatures as well as stakeholders and industry experts have all stressed the need to integrate port developments with investments in inland logistics in order to ensure effective hinterland connectivity in the Sub-region. The eventual completion and functioning of the Boankra inland port would therefore significantly improve hinterland connectivity with other benefits to the country.
Firstly, the project could become a strategic tool to boosts transit trade . Landlocked countries who use the country’s ports would now only need to pick or drop their cargo at Boankra. This would save time and cost by reducing to a greater extent the long distances which would have been covered.
To a large extent this project has the potential to reduce the number of cargo trucks that ply our roads daily some of which are the causes of road carnage’s. This would be possible because most cargo destined for the middle belt and landlocked countries would be moved by rails to and from the ports.
Moving cargo by rails would adversely have an impact on the cost of transportation per container as the rails could transport more cargo per trip thereby benefiting from scale economics. The benefits of a reduced transportation cost would trickle down to the ordinary man on the street as it would certainly have a positive impact on the final prices of goods and commodities especially in the middle belt and northern part of the country which already is one of the deprived regions in the Ghana.
Furthermore, the challenge of congestion at the nation’s ports especially Tema, sometimes caused by containers waiting longer hours for customs clearance could be curtailed with a fully functional inland port. Customs clearances for cargo (export and import) originating from or destined for the middle belt and landlocked countries could be performed at Boankra resulting in reduced work load on customs officers at the main ports while improving the congestion challenges as well.
In addition , in this modern age of environmental consciousness (Green logistics), transporting more cargo per trip would reduce the amount of pollution caused to the environment per container, this would augur well for the country in the fight by all nations to preserve the environment
The completion and effective utilization of the Boankra inland port would in no doubt improve inland logistics and ultimately improve supply chain efficiency which is much needed in the sub-region. Indeed hinterland connectivity has become a very important determinant for ports competitiveness as great ports like Antwerp in Belgium and Hamburg in Germany have been known to have effective hinterland connections.
While mentioning the benefits of this project it is also necessary to stress the need for it’s early completion since the idea of an inland port at Boankra has been hatched for far too long. In Ghana, commissioning of the commencement of a project is one thing while the actual completion of the said project is another.