The Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA) has urged all shippers to expedite action to clear their cargo from the ports on time.
This follows the lockdown that was lifted on April 20, this year, by President Akufo-Addo.
In a statement issued recently, Benonita Bismarck, CEO of the GSA, said it was important to remind all shippers that any further delays in clearing cargo at the ports would not be covered by the waiver announced recently adding that “the authority remains committed to provide and protect the interests of all shippers in Ghana.”
The GSA statement mentioned that “following the announcement of restrictions of movement on parts of the country by the President of the Republic of Ghana to curtail the spread of Covid-19, a number of shippers were unable to clear their cargo in time, even though the movement of goods was exempted from the restrictions.
“The Minister of Transport requested that all applicable time-related penalties i.e. demurrage/detention and storage rent charges in the clearance of cargo at the ports in the wake of the Covid-19 induced restrictions be waived effective March 30, 2020 to April 19, 2020.”
Head of Freight and Logistics, Fred Asiedu Dartey, in an interview with the media, explained, “What our requirement means is that if goods remain in the ports uncleared before March 30, the demurrage that accrued up to that date still accrues. Now between March 30 and April 19, demurrage is waived. From April 20 up to today, as we speak, if you haven’t effected clearance, demurrage applies. The arrangement which we are currently making is for those who have to bear the brunt of additional cost because of the lockdown. And so if your goods arrive after the lockdown, obviously it does not qualify for this waiver.”
Further explaining the situation, he noted, “There was a lot of agitation and thankfully the Minister for Transport intervened and said we should inform the service providers to waive the rent and storage demurrage accordingly. And so we obliged but subsequent to that, we had some engagements with the shipping agents and shipping lines. And we had some pointers to the fact that they needed to consult with their principals to be able to clear or waive the demurrage. The other issue that they had was that there was not sufficient clarity in the initial communication which we gave. And so they held a virtual meeting on the 24 at which meeting all of these issues were clarified and the Ghana Shippers Authority consequently issued a fresh letter to clearly communicate what it was that we sought to communicate in the initial stages.
“I am very glad to announce that subsequent to that Maersk Ghana Limited which is the market leader in the liner shipping industry in Ghana, has issued a customer advisory informing all their customers that indeed demurrage over a specified period has been waived. It is also important to note that the Ghana and Harbours Authority, subsequent to our letter, has also issued some directive to all the terminals and I am glad to note that MPS, for instance, has waived rent for the period and for those who have paid, refunds are being worked on.”
The industry custom is that when goods arrive, importers have seven free days to make arrangements and clear their goods.