The government has ordered the suspension of demurrage/detention, storage rent charges on all cargo that arrived at the ports since March 30, 2020, when the lockdown that was intended to deal with the COVID-19, took effect.
This comes after the Ghana Union of Traders’ Associations (GUTA) asked the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) to stop demurrage charging and rent charges at the ports.
GUTA noted that its hasn’t been successful in its attempts to get the authorities of the GPHA, as well as owners of shipping lines through the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ghana Shippers Authority to waive off the charges have proven futile.
A statement issued and signed by the President of GUTA, Joseph Obeng stated that, “ It is quite unfortunate that persistent calls through the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ghana Shippers Authority to the shipping lines and GPHA to waive the demurrage and rent charges at this very crucial time in the life of this country is proving futile.”
“We are therefore calling on government to strongly appeal to the Shipping lines and GPHA to give unconditional waivers to demurrage and rent charges during this period of the lock-down so that together we all achieve the aim of fighting this pandemic,” the statement added.
A statement issued by the Minister of Transport Kwaku Ofori Asiama, on Sunday, April 19, directed to the Ghana Shippers Authority and the GPHA, said : “It is the understanding of the Ministry that a number of unintended consequences have resulted from the current state of affairs. For instance, while some peculiar circumstances have prevented some shippers from clearing their cargo from the ports others have also encountered some challenges in the process.
“The effect of these developments and the far-reaching consequences on the shipping public may altogether defeat the fight against the novel COVID-19.”
The statement added: “In the light of the foregoing, I hereby direct you that you communicate to all relevant stakeholders the suspension of all applicable charges i.e. Demurrage detention and some storage rent charges on cargo which have remained uncleared since the lockdown came into effect on 30th March, 2020.
“This directive is to ensure that all shippers and all stakeholders do not take actions that may jeopardize government’s efforts at curbing the spread of the virus on the basis of averting the accumulation of costs in the clearance of their cargoes.
“It is important to state that ports are still open for business but all stakeholders must ensure that the safety protocols advised by the Health Authorities to stem the spread of COVID-19 are strictly adhered to.”