Dr Felix Nana Sackey, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Tacotel Limited has hinted that although the COVID-19 pandemic brought lots of pain to both industries and countries, Tacotel was able to sail cautiously through it and thus achieved a 37 per cent increase in exports and a 6 per cent increase in imports between 2020 and 2021.
He attributed the success to the focus it had on its mission to develop a safe and thriving business and people-centred environment for conducive maritime trade with continuous service to clients with quality, blended with timely delivery and by utilizing a passionate approach to efficiency and effectiveness in all its operations.
He opined that Tacotel shall still respect the interests of all stakeholders, employees, customers, suppliers, and the wider community and actively explore opportunities to improve the environment while contributing to the well-being of the communities in which it operates.
Dr Sackey gave the hint at a ceremony to mark the company’s successes made over the past five (5) years of its existence in the maritime industry which was held under the theme, “Beyond All Limit: Still Serving With Passion.”
Tacotel Limited, a subsidiary of Ibis Tek and the sole handler of import and export cargo at the Takoradi Port in the Western Region, was created out of a concessionary agreement between the GPHA and Ibistek Limited as a special purpose vehicle established to operate the off-dock terminal as an extension of the GPHA in Takoradi.
He said although the company is an indigenous organization with success as its ambition, it did not start simply to make money but rather started to make a difference adding, “We really did not know how it was going to go, but we had a dream, and this dream became our vision which is to be a strong leader in the maritime transport and logistics industry in Ghana and West Africa.”
He was happy to announce that for the past five years that Tacotel had been in operation, it had recorded a “no casualties”, “no theft or pilfering” and had also operated a “hazard-free operational environment” using its high compliance attitude and best practices in Health, Safety, Security and Environmental requirements for ports operations.
He said the company’s well-trained officers who have met the demands of the industry since its establishment have been the first to operate an Inland Container Depot in Takoradi and that it aims to leapfrog to the leading position in the provision of quality service with integrity and value addition through its transformational work approach and technology.
He, therefore, thanked the dedicated team of staff in all the various departments who have believed in the vision and therefore worked diligently to contribute to the wellbeing and success of Tacotel.
Mr Richmond Adjei Appiah, Terminal Manager of Tacotel mentioned some challenges the company encountered from the onset and said in spite of the challenges, they have already worked on approximately 200,000 TEUs over the period of five years with countless successes.
“We smile at customers who frown their faces for reasons best known to them, we explain issues to customers and stakeholders to understand, we help resolve their challenges. It can only take passion to resolve one’s challenge when you are challenged yourself”, he divulged.
How it started
Ibistek Ltd, the parent company of Tacotel, which was originally focused on turnkey engineering projects, had the vision to become a leader in the maritime industry. Ibistek, therefore, entered into a concession agreement with Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority in January 2016 to provide a receipt, storage and delivery services for export and import containers at the port of Takoradi.
This concession required Ibistek to develop three major projects in the Takoradi Port such as an Off-Dock Container Terminal, an Oil jetty and a Multipurpose Terminal.
Ibistek, which is an indigenous Ghanaian owned Company decided to create a 100% Ghanaian owned company and therefore formed Tacotel. They then sourced finance from Cal Bank Ltd to develop and construct the Off-Dock Container Terminal in June 2016. The first phase of construction was completed in March 2017, and Tacotel started its Container Terminal Operations on the 7th of April 2017.
The initial operations covered Import & Transit port evacuation and Deliveries. The second phase of construction was completed in 2018, and from then Export Operations was added to the initial activities of Tacotel, and thus the Company assumed its full Port Container Handling operations status.
Staffing and equipment
Tacotel was privileged to mobilize a team that was as enthusiastic as they were, to support on the journey. It commenced its operations with a staff strength of 100 people. Tacotel commenced operations with a stack of high valued equipment which included:
- Two – 45 tonner Reach stackers
- A – 1 by 10 tonner reach stacker
- A – 32 tonner forklift
- Two – 5 tonner forklift
- Four – 3 tonner Telescopic forklifts
- Two terminal trailers among other equipment
- Evacuation of Export & Import containers to and from the Port of Takoradi.
- Storage of Imports & Exports at the Terminal except for the storage of IMDG group 1 cargo ( Class 1,2,5,7).
- Delivery of Imports to Consignees and their Agents (Either Door-to-Door or Devanning of containers)
- Receipt of Export containers for subsequent delivery to the vessel during gate opening of the port.
- Lift-Off & On services on devanned containers (empties) belonging to shipping lines.
- Weighbridge services to support VGM requirements of the shipping lines & the maritime industry.
- Devanning of vehicles to Safebond yard inside TACOTEL’s premises.
- Storage of Empty containers from contracted Clients
Successes made in five years
- The decongesting of the Port of Takoradi, giving way to the development of a container & multipurpose Terminal
- The pavement of the road from Port Gate 10 through New Takoradi Roundabout to Paa-Grant Roundabout which assisted in facilitating a faster export delivery and import receipts of containers to and from the port.
- Instituted processes (in conjunction with Customs) that enable clients to enjoy express services even when their shipping line releases delay.
- Established processes that enable the delivery of containers to consignees or their agents within a maximum of 2 hours, the fastest turn-around time in Ghana for the clearance of cargo after shipping line release.
- Swift transfers from the Port after vessel discharge enables containers to be positioned for deliveries to customers on time.
- Tacotel was the first to be successfully piloted with the paperless system introduced by the government. This has established an effective paperless operation with all its stakeholders.
Challenges confronting operations over the years
- Issue of insufficient marketing by the Port of Takoradi
- High Freight charges to Takoradi Port – Due to Trans-shipments cost & Limited cargo availability
- Transit Time issues; where we are faced with 8 to 10 weeks shipment time as against a 4-week shipment time for Tema Port
- Unavailability of Trucks and Transport services to ply the Takoradi and Hinterlands roads for exports mobilization
- Inadequate infrastructure in the Port to meet modern trends in port operations and activities.
- Axle Load issues – which adds to higher costs for drivers and thus their inability to be efficient
- Customs road checkpoints, which act as a disincentive to drivers picking goods from Takoradi to the hinterlands