The Consultative Forum of Actors in the Shipping Industry on Monday entreated its members not to pay the Port Additional Surcharges (PAS) increment imposed by Shipping Lines as it has no legal basis.
The Consultative Forum comprise: the Concern Freight Forwarders and Traders Association (COFFT), Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana, and Food and Beverages Association of Ghana (FABAG).
The Consultative Forum at a press conference in Tema stressed that “we are entreating all exporters, importers, freight forwarders and all our partners within the logistics supply chain to disregard the notices of any increment which commenced on March 1, 2021”.
A notice from PIL (Ghana) Limited one of the shipping lines showed that the $77 and $154 port additional surcharges respectively 20ft and 40ft had been reviewed to $132 and $264 respectively with effect from March 1, 2021.
The notice have ignited agitation among stakeholders leading to the holding of the press conference. According to the Forum the PAS increment had no legal backing, no authorization, and was contrary to the Ghana Shippers Authority Regulations, 2012 (LI 2190).
“Having interacted with the Ghana Shippers Authority, the regulator, mandated by law to ensure sanity in terms of charges within the shipping industry, it has become evident per our zoom meeting on Saturday, February 27, 2021 that the Shipping Lines have not even filed their charges with the Authority,” Oheneba Kwasi Afawuah, Chairman of COFFT stated.
The COFFT Chairman addressing the media said the GSA regulations state that, “the Authority shall negotiate on behalf of shippers with associations of shipping service providers”.
It shall also be in “charge of ship-owners, shipping lines and agents; port charges; terminal and shore handling charges; charges of freight consolidators; charges for receipt and delivery operations; and charges of freight forwarders, among others”.
Oheneba Afawuah added that the regulations further indicate that for the purpose of negotiations, an association representing shipping service providers, shall notify the Ghana Shippers Authority three months before the beginning of each calendar year of the level and structure of the charges that the shipping service provider intends to administer.
According to him, the Shipping Lines had not adhered to the provisions of the GSA, adding that, even where the situation might be deemed urgent, the Authority’s Regulations, 2021 (LI 2190), Regulation 5(5) is very clear on the processes seeking legitimacy for charges”.
Mr Clement Boateng, and Mr Joseph Padi, Vice President and Communication Director of GUTA respectively on their part, expressed worry at the increment saying they had presented their displeasure to the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and Ministry of Transport.
They noted that importers and exporters were not ready to pay such charges, as they acknowledged that GUTA was a major stakeholder of import and export in Ghana.
They called on government to act quickly as such acts impeded trade facilitation.
Mr Samson Awingobit Asaki, Executive Secretary of the Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana, called on the GSA to sanctions the Shipping Lines for breach of regulation.