Ghanaian importers within a period of ten years paid a total of $382 million (GH¢1.910 billion) at an exchange rate of GH¢5.00 per dollar, in the form of demurrages to shipping lines outside the country.
A Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA) research data indicates that in 2010 about $40 million was paid; in 2013 the figure jumped to $85 million; moving still upward in 2016 to $95 million; but dropped marginally to $76 million in 2017; moving downwards still in 2018 to $59 million and in 2019 dropped to $27 million.
Mr. Fred Asiedu Dartey, Head of Freight and Logistics, Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA), has therefore described as national economic bane the consistent payment of demurrages by Ghanaian importers to shipping lines.
Mr Asiedu-Dartey was speaking at the fifth, “GNA-Tema Stakeholder Engagement and Workers’ Appreciation Day,” seminar at the Tema Regional Office of the Ghana News Agency, which is a progressive media caucus platform created to give opportunity to state and non- state actors to interact with journalists and address national issues.
The event also serves as a motivational mechanism to recognize the editorial contribution of reporters to the professional growth and promotion of the GNA Tema Regional Branch as the industrial news hub, while contributing to national development.
Explaining the typical schedule for container demurrage, Mr Asiedu-Dartey noted that the first seven days of the arrival of a container is free, and encouraged importers to take advantage of the period to clear their goods.
He said however from the eighth to the 14 days the importer pays $22.00 (GH¢110.00) per day for a 20 footer container and $44.00 (GH¢220.00) for a 40 footer container; from the 15th to the 21st day, the charge moves up sharply as the importer would pay $35.00 (GH¢175.00) per day for 20 footer container and $70.00 (GH¢350.00) for a 40 footer container.
He said after 21 days, the charge for 20 footer container is pegged at $48.00 (GH¢240.00) daily and $96.00 (GH¢480.00) for a 40 footer container.
On the underlying causes, Mr Asiedu-Dartey said the GSA have identified a number of issues including; bureaucratic operational procedures, system issues – changes in cargo clearance platforms; and delays at the Customs Technical Services Bureau (CTSB).
Others includes; delays in exemption or permit processing, questionable professional competence of some Clearing Agents, errors in declarations cash flow issues, and deliberate delay for ulterior motives.
Speaking on: “Emerging trends in Ghana’s maritime industry – the perspective of the Ghana Shippers Authority,” Mr Asiedu-Dartey noted that with intensified sensitization by the Authority importers were beginning to appreciate the need to avoid payment of demurrage.
Mr Asiedu-Dartey said even though there had been significant reductions, importers could still cut the figure down by putting in measures to ensure that they cleared their cargos on time to prevent attracting additional fees in the form of demurrage to the shipping lines and rent to the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA).
Mr Francis Ameyibor, GNA Tema Regional Manager, indicated that the Agency uses the platform to deepen the working relations with the stakeholders to ensure that both the media and the corporate world work together towards national development.