Editorial 2: What a waste of scarce funds!

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Every year, millions of cedis are paid as demurrage – fees importers pay for overstayed containers – to shipping lines.

Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA) consequently embarked on an educational drive to improve the situation, even though there has been some improvement, figures still remains high.

According to the GSA, from estimation research annually conducted, US$40 million was paid as demurrage in 2010, three years after that in 2013, the figure shot up to US$85 million, three years later in 2016, it further shot up to US$95 million.

GSA took a bold step to allocate resource to educate the general public and on ways to avoid the payment of demurrage as it is a charge very preventable.

Since then, from the high of US$95 million in 2016, demurrage dropped to US$76 million in 2017 and it further moved down to US$59 million in 2018 and saw a huge dip to US$27 million in 2019.

However, some shipping line managers have expressed scepticism with the official data, noting that despite the sharp drop, the figure is still high and developments at the ports this year could see the data go up due to rows and rows of containers that need to be cleared from the port but have not been, impeding the flow of their business.

Some of the shipping lines blame state institutions as major culprits- ie. -Ministries, Departments and Agencies. It is estimated that out of the US$27 million paid as demurrage in 2019, 60-70 percent was paid by state institutions.

Government agencies need to get their act together. The shipping lines acknowledge that they are global organizations that deal with different states and they note that other countries don’t act in this manner.

Immediately we dock, and the goods are out; it is cleared from the port and we get our containers, they told this paper on the condition of anonymity.

But here in Ghana, goods that were imported by state institutions stay at the port for over 100 days, for some years, accruing demurrage and because it is government money used in paying, it seems no one cares. They use taxpayers’ money to come and pay for demurrage and get their goods. Sometimes the demurrage amounts are outrageous, the shippers complain.

Then it means that the GSA’s educational drive is not yielding the expected results, so we urge them to extend that service to state institutions as well.

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