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Shippers community decry container demurrage charges

Business and Economics

Accra, July 6, GNA – The Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (ICS) has complained about the high demurrage charges imposed on containers, saying it is a burden for the industry.


Mr Fred Asiedu-Dartey, Chairman of the West Africa Branch of the Institute, made the complaint during the ICS maritime stakeholders’ conference in Accra.

It is on the general theme: “Container Demurrage; Its administration and impact on Ghana’s Maritime Industry.”

Mr Asiedu-Dartey noted that more than 80 per cent of liner cargo could not be cleared from the ports within the allowable seven days of free time, which led to an estimated $ 100 million being paid in a year as demurrage.

He asked the government to streamline the operational lapses within the cargo handling systems to ensure that goods were cleared faster through more efficient arrangements.

Mr Carlos Ahenkorah, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, attributed the problems in the industry to inefficiencies in the clearance procedures, which some shippers exploited.

He recommended the need for agents to be allowed to bring on board insurance policies against container detention to cover those that were affected by the taken out.
 
He also emphasised on the need for capacity building and challenged ICS to ensure that operators in the sector regularly updated their professional skills in accordance with international standards.

Dr Kofi Mbiah, former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Shipper’s Authority noted that container demurrage was having dangerous impact on Ghana’s maritime industry.

He said the Shippers community was at pains to understand exactly the calculation of the seven days free time and found it ambiguous “even holidays and weekends are included in the calculations”.
 
“It is also unclear the commencement day whether its start as soon as vessel arrives and at what time it arrives. There is total lack of uniformity some ports begin to count immediately it arrives.”

Dr Mbiah emphasised that 80 per cent of liner cargos could not be cleared within the given period because of delay from service providers and activities of unreliable clearing agents and inconsistencies in its operations.

There are also difficulties in locating containers and also delays in the receipts of cargo documentation.

He recommended the need for Shippers to be educated on the automation of the clearance procedure.

He said there was the need to introduce a better system for tracking containers and increase the number of customs officials at the ports to reduce the hours spent on handling containers.

Mr Karl Franz, ICS Chairman explained that container demurrage was a bane to the Maritime Industry… “Without shipping there will be no globalization and therefore it helps to sustain economic growth in the country. “

He observed that container demurrage was a huge matter not only in Ghana but all over the world as such delays affected financial issues in a country.

MS Julie Lithgow, ICS Director at the Institute’s headquarters in London said the aim of the body was to support and encourage the next generation through teaching and mentoring.

She said the importance of maritime trading to the economic development of the world could not be under-estimated “as countries that were able to trade fairly grew richer”.

Ms Lithgow noted that sea transportation and trade used to be the cheapest means of business, but in recent times impact of container demurrage had gradually eroded that impression.

The ICS is the professional body for all members of the commercial shipping industry including; shipbrokers, ship managers and agents, and other maritime practitioners.

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