SHIPPING LINES USING COVID-19 TO MILK IMPORTERS OF HUGE DEMURRAGES
In the wake of efforts by Customs and it allied agencies such as GPHA and MPS to help ease congestion at the Tema Port in the phase of the COVID-19 Pandemic, our checks so far has revealed a grand scheme by some shipping lines to thwarts government effort in ensuring ease of doing business at the Port. Whereas Customs, GPHA and MPS are working 24 hours a day to ensure importers clear their goods on time, shipping lines have on the excuse of the lockdown reudced their 24 working hours to only 6 hours thus from 8am to 2pm, making it difficult for importers to clear their goods on time, and in default pay demurages. Our checks so far, reveals that no single importer has been able to clear his or her goods within 24 hours since the lockdown was announced, a sitaution which must solely be blamed on the doorsteps of the various shipping lines. We believe, the actions by these shipping lines, is a deliberate attempt to milk importers from huge demurrages they are made to pay for failing to clear their goods on time. We are therefore calling on government to as a matter of urgency issue a fiat suspending the payment of demurrage or either direct the shipping lines to extend their working hours, to meet the high working rate at the Port. If Customs, GPHA, MPS and Importers are ready to work 24/7, to ensure speedy clearance of goods at the Port, we believe the various Shipping lines must also be made to work within such hours, to alomeriate the burden already brought upon importers by the COVID-19 lock down.
Samson Asaki Awingobit
Executive Secretary, Importers and Exporters Association Ghana