Ghanaian trading community demand shipping lines to play fair

Shipping lines operating in Ghana are once again the subject of backlash from the importing public over what they say is unfair treatment from the lines. 

According to importers some charges and practices by the shipping lines are unjustifiable and severely affecting the cost of doing business at the ports of Ghana.

Representatives from the freight forwarding fraternity, while speaking on the Eye on Port program on national television, were unanimous in their disenchantment during the course of their dealings with shipping lines.

Forwarder Johnny Mantey, the Vice President for the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF) in Tema, was emphatic on his call for shipping lines operating in the country to “abide by the regulations set out in LI 2190 which mandates the shippers Authority to regulate all charges within our space.”

He explained that the various institutions within Ghana’s shipping industry avail their tariffs to be vetted and regulated by the Shippers’ Authority, but when it comes to the turn of the shipping lines, “they don’t play ball.”

He cited the case of the controversial port additional charges, which he claimed is unjustifiable. According to him, those charges among some other charges imposed by the shipping lines should be embedded in the freight charges.

He also criticized some administrative practices by the shipping lines operating in the country.

Mr Mantey said, “I unloaded containers yesterday, Saturday, but today I cannot return it because the lines are closed. Customs work 24/7. Why aren’t the lines working 24/7? Today you can pay your custom duties 2am, 4am, but you cannot do that with the shipping lines. 2 o’clock, their portals are shut. Yet they charge for demurrage on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. What wrong have we done as Ghanaians?”

Taking his turn on the subject, an Executive Member of the Association of Customs House Agents Ghana (ACHAG), Akwasi Serebour Boateng intimated that shipping lines are in the business of profiting from delays caused in the clearance chain.

He quizzed, “if you’re in the position whereby the more you delay me, you make more money, why won’t you delay me? There’s incentive to delay.”

He corroborated the sentiments of the earlier speaker, saying, “why can’t I do a release or drop my box Saturdays and Sundays? If I have a teller’s release from my principal, what else does the shipping line here need again? They have all the registered clearing agents in their system. But all these bureaucracies are there for them to make money from the system.”

He also raised concern on why shipping lines do not apply the standard bank of Ghana exchange rates for business as compared to other players in the clearance chain.

“As we speak, the Bank of Ghana exchange rates is about 5.9, but the shipping lines are using 6.5 per dollar. There is no one to speak for us. You either pay or you keep quiet,” he lamented.

Also on the panel, the Executive Secretary of the Committee of Freight Forwarders Association (CoFFA), Nana Fredua Agyemang Ofori-Atta, said it is rather unfortunate that, all the combined efforts by players in Ghana’s maritime trade to create a cost & time efficient port, can be severely derailed by the actions of shipping lines.

He said, “logistics is about cost efficiency, so we try to do away with anything that adds up to cost. Shipping lines have no incentive to tow the same line. Because they, on the other hand, make money when they slow down the process.”

He urged the lines to cut undue delays and added cost to effectively contribute to the national port efficiency project.

The panellists also urged the Ghana Shippers Authority to do all they can to come to the aid of shippers.

READ ALSO: Give Shippers Authority Biting Teeth – GUTA Tells Govt

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