Some freight forwarders, popularly known as ‘Agents’, whose activities are mostly at the Tema Port have bemoaned that the recent drop in traffic at the country’s ports is taking a heavy toll on their businesses.
These freight forwarders act as transactional leads or middlemen for importers when clearing their goods at the ports, and have had little or nothing at all to do from mid-last year till now.
The country’s economy is basically an import one; however, with reversal of the benchmark policy, increased taxes and introduction of new taxes – and increased shipping line cost, importers have had to find alternate ways of doing businesses.
News was rife early this month that there has been a decline in port traffic since mid-last year, with the phenomenon creeping into the first quarter of this year.
Executive Secretary of the Importers and Exporters Association, Samson Asaki Awingobit, has also expressed worry over the development.
In an interview with the B&FT, one freight forwarder based in Tema, Cephas Nseidu, indicated that prior to the upward review of taxes and increase in shipping line cost, he used to clear about 8 to 10 containers from the Tema Port within a week.
He also noted that since January this year he has only been able to clear 3 containers weekly, which is a massive decline in his routine at the harbor; hence the need for finding alternate means of survival.
Another Freight Forwarder, Romeo Frimpong, for his part indicated that impacts from the drop in traffic at the port are dire and has affected businesses in the country as well as all other stakeholders – including them (freight forwarders).
He told B&FT that the dashboard used by freight forwarders on a daily basis always shows small figures compared to before.
He revealed that between 2019 and first quarter of 2022, inflows at the ports were so high because of certain discounts for businesses and also a 30 percent discount on vehicle importation.
He indicated further that the decline is not affecting only freight forwarders but also the revenue of Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority as well.
Adding to the above, Mr. Frimpong told B&FT how this drop is affecting his business and those of his colleagues.
“We used to clear 10 to 20 containers in a week. But for some time now we clear only two, or sometimes nothing at all. Some of my colleagues used to close from work as late as 9pm over the years, but recently it’s as early as 2pm – signifying that there is no work to do.
“Our people overseas are telling us that the rate of taxes is going high, the shipping line charges and all that is not a good time for them. It has dwindled in terms of ordering containers even within a week. The whole of last week, most of our people didn’t go to work because there was nothing to do,” Mr. Frimpong lamented.