Maritime authority insists on raised safety and security charge • Shippers want to pass it on • Importers and exporters resist

Mr. Kwame Owusu
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The Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) has said it will not succumb to any pressure, whatsoever, to reverse its decision to increase the maritime safety and security charge paid by shipping lines from US15cents to 50cents.

During a stakeholder engagement with representatives of shipping lines and other regulators in the shipping business, Director-General of the authority Kwame Owusu stated emphatically that “this issue about safety charge is over”.

He added: “For the GMA a charge is a charge. and we will enforce that position as stipulated by the laws of the land; as an authority, we will be proactive to protect the people of this country.

“We want to cure Ghana’s waters for shipping lines to operate and thrive within a conducive environment; we will do what we have to do to protect shipping lines and the waters.”

The authority, under a new leadership, has reviewed upward the safety and security charge for shipping lines from 15cents to 50cents.

The increase in the safety and security charge, occasioned by new leadership of the authority, means a vessel that used to pay about US$6,000 per month in security and safety charges will now have to pay between US$25,000 and US$30,000.

The safety and security charge increase is backed by the Authority’s regulations passed in 2012, which allows the imposition of maritime safety fees and charges on installations, ships, pipelines, cables and other assets employed in the maritime domain.

Shipping lines are asking the regulator to reconsider the increase – arguing that it will take a huge toll on their operations, given that third party costs are already eroding their actual freight.

If the decision won’t be reversed, the shipping lines argue that they should be allowed to recover the added cost from importers and exporters.

In response to that, the Director-General of the authority said: “The GMA is not saying that the charge cannot be recovered; but the mandate to pass on the charge to shippers lies with the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA)”.

However, the shipping lines’ intention to transfer the cost to shippers was vehemently rebuffed by the Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana.

Executive Secretary of the association, Samson Asaki Awingobit, said at the meeting that his outfit will be forced to demonstrate against that decision.

He argued: “This is a charge to protect the country’s waters and make it conducive for the shipping lines to call at our ports.

“Were there to be any form of attacks or robberies in our waters, they would not come; they have to take up that responsibility and not pass it on.”

By Patrick Paintsil l thebftonline.com l Ghana