Engagement with shipper associations is expected to take centre stage in the activities of the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA) in a bid to sensitize stakeholders on how to avoid demurrage.
Additionally, a ‘ShippersAPP’, a repertoire of maritime trade and transport information including maritime trade statistics, information on vessel movement, port charges, contacts of key stakeholders and a cargo clearance process guideline is to be available and accessible on a mobile phone.
These initiatives are in line with the GSA objective to bring down demurrage and rent charges, which have become a significant drain on the capital of import and export businesses.
Chief Executive of the GSA, Ms Benonita Bismark, announced these at the first in the series of seminars on demurrage for the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) in Accra.
“We all need to focus on delivering the benefits of efficiency in our systems to the ordinary man on the street. This means, after today’s seminar, we will ensure that the estimated US$75million paid as demurrage will be reduced to a mere US$5million or less.”
Demurrage is charged to a shipper who holds a container beyond a certain date arising from inability to clear cargo from the port.
According to the Head of Research, Monitoring and Evaluation at the GSA, Mr Emmanuel Arko, free days in Ghana for demurrage is usually seven days.
He explained that each time one incurs demurrage, rent charges come with it for keeping your goods at the port, emphasising that both are ‘avoidable charges’.
Arko outlined the trend of demurrage payments over the years from US$40million in 2010, rising sharply to US$85 million in 2013. Another increase to US$95 million was recorded in 2016 only to drop significantly in 2017 to US$76 million.
President of GUTA, Dr Joseph Obeng, observed that parties present at the seminar must see themselves as ‘indispensable key stakeholders’ as far as business in the ports is concerned.
He applauded the Shippers’ Authority for the engagement but cautioned that the move should not be a nine-day wonder.
Stakeholders present at the seminar included the Customs Division of the GRA, Ship Owners and Agents Association of Ghana, (SOAAG), Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF) and the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA).
By Godfred Tawiah Gogo