The Concerned Freight Forwarders and Traders Association (COFT), has threatened to embark on a massive demonstration at the Tema Port to protest against the failure of shipping lines to heed to government’s directive not to collect ‘demurrage and rent charges’ on cargo for the period of the partial lockdown.
Speaking to Citi Business News, the Chairman of the Association, Oheneba Akwasi Afrawua, said they are being short-changed by the shipping lines.
“The shipping lines are not adhering to the directive from the Transport Minister. They claim they do not take orders from the Minister. This cannot happen in any other country. Looking at the situation we find ourselves in, we are not in normal times, and the same shipping lines are working along the coast. Our checks have told us that the same communique has come from other countries which the shipping lines have adhered to,” he said.
“…But when they come to Ghana, they want the traders to suffer and pay for demurrage. Our advice to them is that since they are enjoying the subsidies government has put in place but don’t want to help relieve the burden from the importers, we the freight forwarders are going on a massive demonstration to make sure no shipping line operates because we cannot sit down for this thing to happen continually.”
Earlier this month, the Minister of Transport,Kwaku Ofori-Asiamah, directed the Ghana Shippers’ Authority to suspend all applicable charges such as demurrage or detention and storage rent charges on all cargo that had remained uncleared since the partial lock-down came into effect on 30th March, 2020.
In a letter to the Ghana Shippers Authority, the Minister had explained that, this is to ensure that shippers and other stakeholders do not take actions that may thwart government’s efforts at stemming the spread of the virus on the basis of preventing the accumulation of costs in the clearance of their cargoes.
Subsequently, the Ghana Shippers’ Authority notified the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) and all other players in the shipping industry that it had waived off charges on “demurrage/detention and storage rent charges” on all cargo which had remained uncleared at the ports from March 30, 2020 to April 19, 2020.
Earlier in the month of April, the Ghana Union of Traders’ Associations (GUTA), petitioned 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.