The Ghana Shippers’ Authority has officially written to inform the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, GPHA, and all other players in the shipping industry that it has waived off charges on “demurrage/detention and storage rent charges” on all cargo which have remained uncleared at the ports from March 30, 2020 to April 19, 2020.
This follows a directive from the Minister of Transport, Kwaku Ofori-Asiamah to the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, GPHA, as well as the shipping lines to suspend all applicable charges such as demurrage or detention and storage rent charges on all cargo that have remained uncleared since the partial lockdown came into effect on 30th March, 2020.
In a letter signed by the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Shippers’ Authority, Benonita Bismarck and copied to 30 organisations including GPHA, the Authority stated that, “We inform you of the suspension of all applicable time-related penalties i.e. demurrage or detention and storage rent charges in the clearance of cargo at the ports in the wake of the COVID-19 induced restrictions, effective March 30, 2020.”
They explained that this is to ensure that shippers and other stakeholders do not take actions that may threaten government’s efforts at stemming the spread of the virus in their bid to avert the ‘accumulation of the time-related penalties.’
It will be recalled that President Nana Akufo-Addo’s in an earlier announcement, stated that all cargoes can move in and out of the country despite the partial lockdown.
However, according to the Authority, a number of shippers have been affected by the state of affairs and are unable to clear their cargo on time, even though the movement of goods and other essential services were exempted from the restrictions.
“The Ghana Ports and Harbours and other key stakeholders, including your outfit, have shown commitment and great sacrifice to ensure the clearance of import and export cargo through the ports in these difficult times, but unfortunately a number of shippers have had to bear the brunt of the unintended consequences of the restrictions, which includes social distancing protocols. This has made it difficult for many of them to clear their cargo, within the stipulated tome periods, resulting in huge demurrage and storage rent charges,” the statement noted.
“The Authority further notes that, it is our firm belief that your compliance with this directive will be a further demonstration of your support to help rid the country of this deadly pandemic and getting our businesses back on the path of progress and prosperity.”
Halt demurrage and rent charges
Last week, 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.
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.