Prez John Mahama has called for the immediate halt of the charging of Terminal Handling Charges (THC) at Ghana’s ports by shipping lines.
The President John Mahama says the charges hold no legal bases and as such should not be charged or implemented by the shipping lines at the ports.
Business Associations protest THC
11 key business organizations in the country AGI, Ghana National Chamber of Commerce, Ghana Union of Traders Association, Private Enterprise Federation, Ghana Chamber of Mines, Federation of Association of Ghanaian Exporters, Ghana Root Crops and Tubers Exporters Union, Greater Accra Regional Shipper Committee, Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, Food and Beverage Association of Ghana, Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana and Custom Brokers Association of Ghana have called for sanctions against all shipping lines that flouted the Transport Minister’s directive asking them to halt charging THC.
Shipping lines flouting directive
Transport Minister Fiifi Kwetey had earlier directed all shipping lines in the country to stop charging the Terminal Handling Charges.
Despite the directive, 5 shipping lines MSC Ghana, PIL Ghana, CMA CGM Ghana, Maersk Ghana and Intermodal Shipping Agency Ghana are reported to be still charging the fees and flouting the Minister’s directives.
President orders shipping lines to stop charge
Speaking at the 1st anniversary of the national single window, President Mahama called on the various shipping lines still charging the fees to cease doing so with immediate effect.
‘There has been concerns about the numerous fees and levies charged at our ports. And that is why I take the complaints of the AGI very seriously. I am advised that there are no legal bases, absolutely no legal bases for the Terminal Handling Charges that are currently been leveled. And the Honorable Minister of Transport has written expressly to stop this charge. This must be implemented immediately’.
Earlier the regulator of the industry the Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA) warned it will deal with shipping companies who were still charging importers the THC fee.
GSA to sanction shipping lines
According to the GSA, the THC is seen as one of the non tariff charge which is a barrier to trade.
Speaking on Citi FM’s consumer show “Business Today”, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Shippers Authority Sylvia Asana Owu said the authority will take up the matter with the Global Shippers’ forum to name and shame companies still charging the THC.
“As an authority we are not sitting down unconcerned, we have taken the matter up as far as the global shipper’s forum and they have also admitted that the issue of terminal handling charges is so unfair and it is one of the non tariff barriers that goes against international trade. And so they are ready to take the matter up to name and shame shipping lines that are engaged in this act,” she announced.
Madam Asana Owu further explained that the directive from the Transport Minister for the THC to be halted was very straight forward and shipping lines needed not to confuse the issue.
“One thing we must realize is that if you are dealing with a shipper and the shipper says this is what I want, you need to respect it,” she said.
She urged shipping lines to listen to their associations to press home their demand.
“I think the shipping lines should listen to the business associations and make sure that they work together” She stated.
Shipping lines deny accusation
Meanwhile the Ship Owners and Agents Associations of Ghana have rejected assertions that they are flouting a directive not to charge Terminal Handling Charges.
According to the Vice President of the association, Adam Umoro Ayana, its members are law abiding and will not act contrary to the laws of Ghana.
Speaking on Citi FM’s consumer show “Business Today” Vice Mr. Ayana called on the business associations to be calm as their doors were open for discussion around the issue.
“Let me make the point that shipping lines would never flout any government rule or directive in this country. They would never ever. We are law abiding companies. Our doors are opened and we can sit and discuss as we have our customers who are dear to the shipping line and we are always there to assist them,” he said.
“So if there is any issue the business associations should come and we sit down and discuss it, we don’t have to take the law into our own hands and act against anyone,” he appealed.
He further explained that “giving ultimatum to people with regards to the alleged collection of the THC will not resolve the issues at stake but rather sitting down to discuss or consult among themselves”.
He pointed out that “the shipping lines are reasonable companies and they respect themselves and they are globally affiliated so they wouldn’t do anything otherwise or untoward.”
By: Vivian Kai Lokko/ Jessica Ayorkor Aryee/citibusinessnews.com/Ghana