The Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF) is pushing for rate reforms in the shipping line business. According to GIFF, there are a number of charges on the books of shipping lines which have outlived their usefulness and are unreasonably increasing the cost of doing business.
The Freight Forwarders say they have complained over the years about some of these charges, but to no positive result.
Speaking to the B&FT on some of the advocacies GIFF will be pushing in 2021, its president, Eddy Akrong, said that shipping line rates will be high on their agenda.
They are therefore asking the Ministries of Transport and Trade and Industry to work through the Ghana Shippers’ Authority to set up a platform for the deliberation of these matters, as they border on the country’s competitiveness with implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) ongoing.
“For the charges, there has to be some negotiation; some of them need to be capped. There are several charges on their invoices that will have to be looked at again. If you look at the trade facilitation agreement where it talks about fees and charges, it says that whatever service you provide has to be commensurate with the charge. What we are experiencing in the sector I can say is a bit too much.
“Mode of collection, demurrage days, free days they give, charging demurrage on holidays when the shipping line is not even working; some of these things need to be looked at in total. It is really affecting business and a lot of money is going down the drain, affecting the cost of doing business,” Mr. Akrong noted.
He added that: “They are private entities, we agree; but if we let it go then it will go over the roof, and that would impact on the cost of goods and some services needed to run the economy. Apart from demurrage, we have other issues. Now we have security fees, ISPS fees, port additional charges etc., all these are on their invoices; they will have to explain them well and tell us why the importer needs to bear the cost, and why are these charges not embedded in the freight charges.
“Most of these charges, we know, are factored into the freight rate paid at the port of loading; we don’t understand why they are standalone on the invoices here in Ghana,” he added.
The shipping lines in the past have attributed the current state of affairs to the poor time-consciousness of the Ghanaian trader and other port facilities. They say some of the charges are serving as deterrents so that there will be quick turnaround times for vessels. Some of the shipping lines contacted by this paper said they are open to such deliberation, as it would be a win-win situation for players in the sector.