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Calls to amend Shippers’ Act to give Authority more powers

Awiingobit   Shippers Samson Asaki Awiingobit, Executive Secretary of the Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana

Fri, 12 Mar 2021 Source: business24.com.gh

Executive Secretary of the Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana, Samson Asaki Awiingobit, has called for the amendment of the act establishing the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA) to give the state agency the power to regulate local rates and charges in the shipping industry.

“We don’t have a law with strong punitive measures that can cause the revocation of the license of a shipping line or shipowner that fails to operate according to the regulations of the shipping business in the country,” he told Business24 in an exclusive interview.

According to Mr. Awiingobit, the Ghana Shippers’ Act, in its current form, allows for advocacy and mediation but lacks the power to enforce compliance with the laws of the shipping business.

He added: “The aspect of the law that governs the dealings of the Authority and shipping lines cannot enforce the repatriation, revocation of license of defaulting liners or even to prosecute same in the case of wanton disobedience to the laws of our land.”

Alternatively, he is asking the Ministry of Transport to clothe the Ghana Maritime Authority—which currently has the power to issue or revoke the licenses of ships that sail the nation’s waters—with extra powers to supervise the trade aspect of the shipping business.

Mr. Awiingobit’s suggestions come on the back of what industry players have described as an arbitrary increase in fees and charges by shipping lines, an act that has received condemnation from trade associations including the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) and the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders.

A US$70 increase [US$35 for both import and export] in charges to the container handling side of the shipping business by the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) came with a port additional surcharge by the shipping lines that is being levied to importers.

The charge for container handling services by companies like PIL, which used to be US$77, has moved to US$132. That of Maersk Line, which was US$61, is now US$125; MSC’s charge of US$65 has moved to US$120, whilst Grimaldi’s charge has moved from US$55 to US$155.

But according to Mr. Awiingobit, this charge is more of a rip-off than cost recovery for the shipping lines because “the principal or shipowner, in negotiating the freight, was aware of stevedoring services at the destination port to get the container landed and that service is factored in calculating the freight”.

“So, for their local representatives to introduce additional port charges as cost recovery is solely because our laws are weak, not punitive enough or because the GSA pretends to be working when they are not, because they have no law to do so.”

Source: business24.com.gh
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