Shippers Authority scores double as demurrage payments reduce by 19%

Payments for demurrage at the Ports of Tema and Takoradi went down from US$95 million in 2016 to US$76 million at the end of last year, representing a 19.6 percent reduction over a projected 10 percent by the Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA) for the same period.

Describing the feat as “gratifying”, Chief Executive Officer of the GSA, Miss Benonita Bismarck attributed the reduction to shipper education and sensitisation on need to avoid the payments of demurrage.

Demurrage is a charge payable to the owner of a chartered ship on failure to load or discharge the ship within the time agreed.

Rent payments for the period however, saw an increase to US$48.1 million in 2017, from a US$42.9 million in the previous year.

Demurrage and rent, therefore, are avoidable payments at the ports if shippers are able to clear their cargo generally within the first seven days free period. Unfortunately, a number of shippers enter demurrage and rent periods due to several reasons.

Bismarck, who disclosed this at the first edition of Shipping Quarter and Outlook 2018, also touted the positive gains in maritime trade performance over the last 10 years, singling out the impressive performance in 2017 over the previous year.

“Ghana’s seaborne trade volume increased by 15.9 percent last year over that of 2016. This could be attributed to improved confidence in the economy and the fading of the uncertainty that characterised the political season of elections 2016.”

The CEO observed that the high rate of growth in trade volume in 2017 was on the back of good performances in the third and fourth quarters respectively.

In 2018, the GSA projects at least 10 percent growth in cargo throughput on the strength of the recovery made after a dip in trade volume in 2014. The projected growth is expected in exports as a significant contributor.

Bismarck however, noted that optimum performance is achievable on improved systems and processes, integrated with an effective coordination and risk management of the clearance processes.

She reiterated the need for continuous education of shippers on the clearance procedures noting that shippers must “begin their documentation processes for cargo clearance prior to the arrival of their cargo so as to reduce demurrage and rent payments.”

The CEO committed to dialoguing with stakeholders to shape the narrative of the shipping sector as a thriving one capable of supporting Ghana’s international trade competiveness.

By Godfred Tawiah Gogo