Stakeholders at the countries ports including importers and exporters along with freight forwarders, say the need for a clear regulation of activities at the ports, is an issue that needs to be addressed or touched on in the upcoming budget reading on Friday.
For months now, these stakeholders have been agitating and using all channels available to prevent an increment in charges especially from the shipping line.
Up until March 2020, the value and volume of exports from Ghana were increasing steadily while the value and volume of imports fluctuated, leading to consistent balance of trade as well as healthy throughput at the countries ports.
The value of exports and imports as of January 2020 stood at 1.4 billion dollars, and 1.1 billion dollars respectively.
Fast-forward to November of the same year, and the figures had fluctuated due to the impact of COVID-19.
Value of exports and imports stood equally at about 1.2 billion dollars respectively.
The impact extended from the values of goods imported and exported to the level of activities at the port and even leading to job losses.
Months into the pandemic, after periods of lockdowns and low throughput at the port, things began to pick up.
Importers and exporters however begun raising an issue with plans to increase port charges.
These concerns got to the Minister of Transport, Kweku Ofori Asiamah, who called for a stay of the increases and asked for more consultation.
With the 2021 budget presentation just around the corner, the importers and exporters association as well as the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, still have issues surrounding port charges and the conduct of shipping lines at the top of the list they want the government to look at.
Eddy Akrong is the President of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, and he calls for increased digitization along with a stable currency regime at the ports.
“One of our major problems is with the shipping lines and the rate at which increases in port charges is affecting our businesses. These increases will eventually go into the pricing of goods and will affect everyone. The pegging of a particular exchange rate for extended periods will help traders plan effectively instead of the current situation where rates change every week.”
The Executive Secretary of the Importers and Exporters Association, Sampson Asaaki Awingobit, say he’s looking for a law that will bite enough to ensure shipping lines act according to laid down regulations.
“The shipping lines are acting the way they are because they see that the laws governing or regulating them don’t bite enough. If things stay as they are with the high port charges, Ghana will become unattractive in the era of the African Continental Free Trade Area. So what we are calling for is a law that is fair and punitive enough for all stakeholders to ensure everyone stays in line.”