Executive board members of the Transport Forum Ghana at the press confab
The Transport Forum Ghana on Wednesday launched its operations to engage government and other stakeholders to tackle some irregularities identified within the Ghanaian import, export and transport industry.
At a press conference in Accra, president of The Transport Forum Ghana, Jacob Agyemang, stated that there have been growing concerns from importers on some irregularities within the sea transport and maritime industry which needed to be addressed.
One of such practices was the charging of local administrative fees by shipping lines known as liner operators. They are said to be charging importers fees even after the payment of freight costs. But as a linear operator, all fees are to be factored in the freight charges.
Mr. Agyemang further noted that the most irritating of all the fees were the Copy BLs port security charges, cleaning fees release charges and many more which were inappropriate and unfortunate.
“These liner operators apply their own exchange rates always going beyond what the Bank of Ghana gives to the trading public,” he added.
He also established that the average shipping line charge per 20-footer container was GH₵5,000 adding that the Tema Port alone received an average of 1.5 million 20-footer containers per year excluding transit and trans-shipment cargoes. “If you do the arithmetic of 1.5 million by GH¢5,000, it is the amount of money the shipping companies are taking from Ghanaians businesses every year.”
According to the shipping review in 2019, importers paid the demurrage fees determined from the container discharge to the terminal removal excluding free days.
In South Africa and the USA, he said Hapag LIoyd’s Demurrage calculations, for example, begins on the day of pickup at designated interchanges excluding Sunday, Saturday and holidays.
In Ghana, he continued that the story is different as the same company Hapag LIoyd’s and other shipping companies such as Maersk Line, MSCPL COSCO, Grimaldi, ONE Shipping, etc, charged both importers and exporters on days that they do not even work, a clear contradiction to the interpretation of Act 2009 Act 729 which specifies days are to be counted.
Section 44(5) states that, where the time limited by an Act for the performance of an Act expires or falls on a Saturday, Sunday or a public holiday, the time shall be extended to the act performed on the first succeeding day, that is not Saturday, Sunday or a public holiday.
Mr. Agyemang furthermore made a courtesy call to state institutions responsible for maintaining sanity in the shipping sector to up their game to ensure that local importers have the conducive environment to carry out their businesses.
“We recommend that the free days should start counting after departure of the vessel from Ghana, not the arrival of the vessel in Ghana.”
BY Prince Fiifi Yorke