The Ghana Union of Traders’ Associations (GUTA), is calling on government to compel the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) and the shipping lines to refrain from claiming ‘demurrage and rent charges’ on cargo at the country’s ports during the period of the partial lock-down amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Demurrage is a charge payable to the shipping lines or owner of a chartered ship on failure to offload your goods within the time agreed.
According to GUTA, attempts to get the authorities of the Ghana Port and Harbours Authority, GPHA, as well as owners of shipping lines through the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ghana Shippers Authority to waive off the charges have proven futile.
A statement issued and signed by the President of GUTA, Joseph Obeng stated that, “ It is quite unfortunate that persistent calls through the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ghana Shippers Authority to the shipping lines and GPHA to waive the demaurage and rent charges at this very crucial time in the life of this country is proving futile.”
“We are therefore calling on government to strongly appeal to the Shipping lines and GPHA to give unconditional waivers to demurrage and rent charges during this period of the lock-down so that together we all achieve the aim of fighting this pandemic,” the statement added.
Last week, the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), announced that the clearance of all types of goods at the country’s sea ports is on-going despite the restrictions of movement of persons imposed in parts of the country in the wake of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
But GUTA explains that with most of their businesses closed due to the partial lock-down imposed in Greater Accra, Tema, Kasoa and Kumasi, it has become very difficult for members of the Association to make the needed sales to even pay for the duties at this point in time.
“It is very sad that while most of our members cannot move out freely because they are all adhering to the restrictions announced by government, the shipping lines are asking that since they are still working, our members whose goods have arrived at the ports should clear them or pay demurrage if the containers continue to remain at the ports during this lockdown period,” the statement noted.
GUTA further demands that government orders that consignments that form part of essential goods sh only be cleared while all others must be held on till the end of the lock down unless under a special dispensation.
They explained that this should be done “quickly so that our members are not forced to clear their goods and open their shops and warehouses to off load their goods.”