The Ghana Union of Traders’ Association (GUTA), is appealing to government to give its members a three-week grace period to mobilize funds to clear their goods from the country’s various ports amidst the novel Coronavirus pandemic.
Their concerns come barely a week after the Ghana Shippers’ Authority officially informed the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, GPHA, and all other players in the shipping industry to waive off charges on “demurrage/detention and storage rent charges” on all cargo which have remained uncleared at the ports from March 30, 2020 to April 19, 2020 following a directive from government.
However, the Traders’ Unions argue that some concerns from Ship Owners and Agents Association of Ghana has brought about some challenges.
President of GUTA, Dr. Joseph Obeng, in a statement issued on Sunday 26th April, 2020, said, “as a matter of expediency, we would appeal to the Government through the Minister of Transport and also our Sector Minister, Honorable Minister of Trade and Industry, to give all those who have been affected in this matter a grace period of three (3) weeks to mobilize funds and clear their goods at the ports.”
“We have received a copy of a letter on the same subject matter from the Ship Owners and Agents Association of Ghana to the Ghana shippers’ Authority expressing some reservations regarding some aspects of the contents of the directive. Thus, this will go a long way to avert any agitation that may arise out of the frustrations that our members encounter at the moment,” they added.
They are also seeking for clarification on whether charges on cargo which “arrived prior to the lock-down but was not cleared as at the date of lifting the lock-down” should be waived.
Among other demands, they also want clarity on whether cargo arriving between the lock-down up to the date of lifting on April 19, 2020 should be charged; and what should be expected in the case of another partial lock-down.
They further asked for explanation on the issue of how cargo arriving within this period should be treated as the lock-down has been lifted.
While acknowledging that the concerns raised by the ship owners and agents association are legitimate, they want the issues addressed urgently in order not to cause further delay in carrying out the directive of the Transport Ministry to worsen the situation of already frustrated members.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the partial lock-down in the country, supply chain has been severely disrupted, while the associated businesses have also been affected hugely.
Halt demurrage and rent charges at the ports – GUTA to GPHA
Earlier this month, the Ghana Union of Traders’ Associations (GUTA), petitioned government to compel the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) and the shipping lines to defer rentals and waive ‘demurrage and rent charges’ on cargo at the country’s ports during the period of the partial lock-down amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was eventually granted by the Ministry of Transport.
Source: Citi news online