Charge fumigation cost to shipping lines; we’re already burdened with 19 levies – GUTA

The Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) has described as unfair government’s decision to charge them for the cost of fumigating containers when, if necessary at all, it should be the responsibility of the shipping lines.

GUTA maintains, the cleanliness of a container is not the responsibility of the shipper, but the shipping line since importers only rent these containers.

President of GUTA, Joseph Obeng, told Goldstreet Business the Association is resolved to reject any attempt to further burden the Ghanaian trader who has had to pay a tall list of levies including the rechristened Destination Inspection Companies’ levy of 1 per cent and the recently introduced African Union (AU) levy.

“At the last count we have as many as 19 levies, including the recent AU levy of 0.2 percent that was slapped on us.”

GUTA had in a press statement last week described the fumigation program as “unnecessary, ill-advised and poorly planned”, alleging that, “it has no real benefits for the people of Ghana apart from some few foreigners and their local surrogates who would benefit.”

The GUTA president expressed worry that the Ghana Shippers Authority, GSA, which is supposed to seek the interest of shippers proceeded with this policy even though there is no Legislative Instrument (LI) to mandating them to collect such levies and without engaging first with its stakeholders.

He said what was most worrying was that an operator of the fumigation machine, according to the contract, bears no responsibility for any contamination of the consignment arising out of the fumigation exercise.

Obeng noted that their intention was not to frustrate government’s efforts to ensure the safety of citizens and mobilize revenue, but insisted: “It is our resolve not to allow anybody to use the ports to get all sorts of levies from us.”

The Association said the supposed objective of the program to control the transfer of diseases and infections is already defeated as the fumigation will be done only at the point of exit when extensive human contact had already been made with the containers at the holding area.

The GUTA boss wondered why Ghana was rolling out the program in isolation if the basis of its implementation was a requirement from the World Health Organization (WHO) since same cannot be said of other countries.

He said international regulatory bodies have always triggered such a policy in a guided and targeted manner in times of outbreak of diseases from specific importing countries citing the United States directive to fumigate all containers coming from Brazil in the wake of the zika virus outbreak.

GUTA insists on an “immediate cessation” of the fumigation program  which it sees as an “unnecessary intrusion into the clearance at the ports.”

By Godfried Gogo