What are your key priorities for the road transport service sector?
The government has placed a heavy emphasis on improving the transportation system in the country. Our president wants Ghana to become the transportation hub of West Africa. He has a clear vision for the ministry, and we are doing our best to achieve that vision. As the Minister of Transport, I oversee two essential areas: overland transportation services and marine and waterway services. We are working hard to ensure that our maritime sector works extremely well. The president is also concerned by the rate of road accident deaths in the country, and we have been working with two other ministries on a new bill that aims to improve safety. Through this bill, the Ghana National Road Safety Commission will have the authority to enforce traffic laws that can support safe transport. We have also introduced the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, reducing congestion in our cities so that our mass transit systems can operate efficiently. We plan on rolling out the BRT system in certain cities by the end of 2017, working hand in hand with the local authorities.
How would you characterize the developments made so far in the Tema Port development, and what do you seek to achieve through this major project?
The marine industry is improving rapidly. More ships are docking at our ports, and there is a great deal of upward potential in terms of expansion. The government has allotted USD1.5 billion for the expansion of the port and is looking forward to seeing even more improvements in efficiency and volume. This project is being conducted in partnership with the private sector, and we are thrilled with what we have achieved thus far. By the end of 2019 or early 2020, we seek to be fully operational. Current statistics indicate that the turnaround time to claim goods from customs is around 104 hours, which is not something that we are proud of. Improving turnaround time is vital, because it will lower the cost of doing business and improve the profits of the entire sector. Our entire port infrastructure system is being considered for redevelopment, and such a comprehensive project could have vast positive implications for the sector. We believe strongly in including Ghanaian companies in this process; we cannot build the country without including Ghanaian know-how. We want to ensure our own people can take advantage of the changes and progress going on in the country.
What the opportunities do you foresee through the One District, One Factory policy?
We have a great many companies interested in coming to Ghana to help us achieve this policy. There are many factories being put up along the water systems in Ghana because these systems offer one of the most efficient means of transporting goods in the country. However, the transport sector and the broader economy require the strengthening of the automotive transport capabilities of the country. In addition, if we were to create an effective ferry system, this would improve transportation immensely, aiding in the success of the One District, One Factory policy. There are a number of Korean and Chinese companies that are prepared to invest these factories as well. They see agricultural processing facilities as being particularly valuable. Other companies, including some from Russia, are interested in operating in the automotive sector, and we have been in talks with them about developing assembly plants.
What are the lines of cooperation between private companies and the government to boost the transport sector?
Development in the transportation sector and the economy as a whole can best be achieved through partnerships with the private sector. It is the government's duty to develop regulations and policies that will allow the private sector to create important and valuable changes. The government is prepared to respect corporate rights and to create a system that supports business and growth.