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Business Associations Threaten Shipping Lines

Key business associations have strongly criticised shipping lines for charging Terminal Handling Charges (THC) in spite of orders from the Ministry of Transport to stop the charges.

The Minister of Transport, Mr Fiifi Kwetey on September 2, 2016 called for the abolishment of the charges following recommendations by an investigative team constituted by the ministry, following a standoff between the business community and the shipping lines when the charges were introduced.

The associations, made up of the Association of Ghanaian Industries (AGI), the Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industries (GNCC), Ghana Union of Traders Association, the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF) at a press conference in Tema last Tuesday, asked their members who had paid the THC after the September 2, 2016 directive came into force to demand them from the shipping lines and their agents.

Representatives of the Ghana Shippers Authority, the Private Enterprise Federation (PEF), the Federation of Ghanaian Exporters (FAGE) and executive members of the Greater Accra Shippers Committee (GARSC), the Importers and Exporters Association among others also attended the press conference.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the AGI, Mr Seth Twum Akwaboah, who spoke on behalf of the business associations, named the MCS Ghana Limited, PIL Ghana, CMA CGM Ghana, Maersk Line and the Intermodal Shipping Agency Ghana (ISAG) and SafMarine as the shipping lines that were still taking the charges in spite of the minister’s directive.

He was of the view that the conduct of the shipping lines clearly defeated the government’s efforts at reducing the cost of doing at the ports.

Mr Akwaboah wondered why the shipping lines that were part of an initial meeting chaired by the Transport Minister could turn around to disregard the directive.

According to him, it was inappropriate for the shipping lines to be using illegitimate means to impose further cost on shippers who were already paying administrative fees of $160 per 20 footer equivalent unit (TEU), thus amounting to about $83 million per year.

“The survival of our businesses and our competitiveness as a country are seriously threatened by these charges”, Mr Twum-Akwaboah said.

The agencies representing shipping lines, he said were incorporated in Ghana under its laws, hence they ought to be in tandem with the laws of Ghana.

“If the minister speaks, he speaks on behalf of the President of Ghana and that must be respected.

“In any case, port tariffs and charges ought to have a parliamentary approval and if these shipping lines are determined to enforce these charges, they ought to go to Parliament for necessary for approval”, Mr Akwaboah said.

The group have thus called on the government and the GPHA to consider appropriate sanctions against those shipping lines defying the orders.

“Our expectation is that shipping lines operating in Ghana must respect and remain subject to the laws of Ghana, including rules and regulations of Ghana Maritime Authority”, the group echoed

“The authorities must not rule out the denial of entry into the port of Ghana of these shipping lines if necessary”, the group advocated

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