Shipping Lines operating in Ghana have once again been the subject of backlash from pundits within Ghana’s shipping sector.
Pundits continue to demand that these shipping lines operating in the country abide by the laws of the country in terms of the introduction and/or increases of charges and fees at the ports of Ghana.
The President of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, speaking on the Eye on Port programme, revealed that the port additional charges which was the subject of much controversy last year still persist, despite much reprehension from the shipping community.
“Throughout the year we made several efforts. We went to the Minister, who then instructed Shippers’ Authority to instruct the shipping lines to let them follow due processes before any increases or introductions in their fees. That was ignored.”
He indicated that his outfit would not relent but move in extra harder to see the desired outcomes.
Mr. Akrong also cited the incidence where shipping lines continue to charge demurrage on days they do not operate.
“We just went through the Christmas holidays where we had a lot of holidays between 24th and 29th but when we come back, all the boxes that came on Thursday or Friday is attracting the same number of days to them. They won’t take it out of the demurrage days. Where is the fairness in that?” he bemoaned.
The GIFF President also lamented the growing incidence of Shipping Lines participating in freight forwarding business in efforts to realize ambitions of delivering end to end shipping services.
He however mentioned that it is the customs house brokerage aspect of the freight forwarding business that disturbs him.
Unfortunately, according to him, the financial muscle of the lines does not make it easier for Ghanaian freight forwarders to enjoy a level playing field.
He stated that the Customs Law 891 which reserves the Customs Brokerage business for Ghanaians is explicit and that the law should be applied indiscriminately.
Mr. Akrong said “although the competition laws are not helping, the local content law is enough to stop them. You can do everything in the whole chain, just leave the customs brokerage bit that is reserved for Ghanaians. They think they have a lot of muscle to hire the best lawyers when it comes to going to court. But this is a governmental matter and government should put their foot on the ground and demand they obey the laws of the country.”
The Executive Director of the Center for International Maritime Affairs, Ghana (CIMAG), Albert Fiatui called for a stronger regulatory measure that would whip Shipping Lines into order.
He said, “I think the Shippers’ Authority is not able to bite enough. I do not know if they do not have all the powers that is needed, or the Ghana Maritime Authority is supposed to get an additional mandate to make sure there is some level of strict regulation when it comes to activities of our stakeholders.”
He also called on the Economic Management Team of government to fulfil their promise to meet with key stakeholders within the shipping subsector to resolve some of the lingering issues.
Mr. Fiatui clarified that he has no business being antagonistic to the business of shipping lines, but he is resolved to ensure that the right thing is done, and Ghanaians are treated fairly.