The Joint Association of Port Transport Unions (JAPTU) has raised concerns about unfair treatment by foreigners who are engaged in the freight forwarding and customs brokerage business.
Aside operating illegally—since that aspect of the shipping business is by law given exclusively to Ghanaians—the transporters say the foreigners, operating as agents and freighters, are involved in various malpractices.
“They underpay for the volume of cargo that is hauled by local transporters, apply unexplained charges on our revenue, refuse to pay vehicle detention charges and, in most cases, delay payment for work done,” General Secretary of the union, Ibrahim Musah, told members of the Ports Journalists Network (PJN) in Tema.
Section 43 of the Customs Act of 2015 states that a company or partnership shall not engage in the business of custom house agents unless that company or partnership is wholly owned by an indigenous Ghanaian and has been granted a licence by the Commissioner-General of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).
According to JAPTU, the foreign agents’ malpractices are affecting local firms’ profitability and ability to contribute meaningfully to the growth of the maritime business.
“Most of these foreign agents are operating within the port without basic immigration documents such as entry and work permits. Some have set up businesses in apparent breach of the GIPC Act, and they do not pay the required corporate taxes to the state,” Mr. Musah added.
The JAPTU boss cited the poor state of Ghana’s road infrastructure, weakness in the enforcement of axle load regulations, and the blatant breach of Custom’s temporary declarations for foreign trucks entering Ghana as other issues stifling their competitiveness.
Other issues he raised were inequality in the payment for loading note and other charges by their landlocked partners and challenges with the manner in which some Customs stations enforce transit regulations.
JAPTU is the umbrella body of about 13 different transport unions operating within the Tema Port, comprising nine Ghanaian associations and three from the landlocked countries of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.
Mr. Elvis Darko, Team Lead of the PJN, said the network, which consists of specialised maritime and trade journalists, seeks to serve the interest of the industry through factual and thought-leading reportage on the nation’s buoyant blue economy.