Shipping companies operating in Ghana are again facing backlash from the importing public over what they say is unfair treatment by the companies.
According to importers, certain shipping company charges and practices are unjustifiable and have a significant impact on the cost of doing business in Ghana’s ports.
Representatives of the freight forwarding fraternity, while speaking on the national TV show Eye on Port, were unanimous in their disenchantment over their dealings with shipping lines.
Freight Forwarder Johnny Mantey, Vice President of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF) in Tema, insisted on his call for shipping companies operating in the country to “Comply with the regulations set forth in LI 2190 which requires the Shippers Authority to regulate all charges in our space.”
He explained that the various institutions of the shipping industry in Ghana demand that their tariffs be audited and regulated by the Shippers Authority, but when it comes to the turn of the shipping companies, “they don’t play the game. ball”.
He cited the case of the controversial additional port charges which he says are unjustifiable. According to him, these fees, among other fees imposed by shipping companies, should be integrated into the transport costs.
He also criticized certain administrative practices of shipping companies operating in the country.
Mr. Mantey said, “I unloaded containers yesterday, Saturday, but today I cannot return it because the lines are closed. Customs is operating 24/7. Why are the lines not operating 24/7 and 7 days a week?Nowadays you can pay your customs duty at 2am 4am but you can’t with the shipping companies 2am their gates are closed yet they charge customs demurrage on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays What wrong have we done as Ghanaians?
Speaking on the subject, an executive member of the Association of Customs Officers of Ghana (ACHAG), Akwasi Serebour Boateng, suggested that shipping companies are there to profit from delays caused in the clearance chain.
He questioned, “If you’re in a position where the longer you delay me, the more money you make, why don’t you delay me?” There is an incentive to delay.
He corroborated the sentiments of the previous speaker by saying, “why can’t I do a release or drop off my box on Saturdays and Sundays? If I have a release from my principal’s cashier, what else does the shipping company need? They have all clearing agents registered in their system. But all these bureaucracies are there to make money from the system.
He also expressed his concerns. why shipping lines do not apply standard Bank of Ghana exchange rates for business compared to other actors in the clearance chain.
“As we speak the Bank of Ghana exchange rate is around 5.9 but the shipping companies are using 6.5 per dollar. There is no one to speak for us. Either you pay or you shut up,” he lamented.
Also in the panel, the Executive Secretary of the Committee of the Freight Forwarders Association (CoFFA), Nana Fredua Agyemang Ofori-Atta, said that it is rather regrettable that all the combined efforts of Ghana’s maritime trade stakeholders to create a efficient system in terms of cost and port time, can be seriously derailed by the actions of the shipping companies.
He said, “Logistics is all about profitability, so we try to eliminate anything that adds to the cost. Shipping companies 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 reduce undue delays and additional costs to contribute effectively to the national port efficiency project.
Panelists also urged the Ghana Shippers Authority to do all they can to help shippers.