The Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana (IEAG) expressed its sadness over recent events in the maritime industry, warning that if they are not seriously handled, many shippers may lose their jobs.
According to the group, “the huge and illegal local handling charges being imposed importers by shipping lines operating in our maritime sector, have become an albatross and a threat to local importers and enterprises as a whole.”
In a statement, the group observed that importers are once again forced to fork over enormous sums of money for the payment of local handling fees that without any justification or legal support.
According to the IEAG, it has proof that some shipping lines are charging up to GHS3,344 as local handling fees for a 20-foot container, and these fees could increase if the importer is clearing multiple containers.
The IEAG claimed that importers are additionally required to pay a deposit of GHS300 to GHS1,000 as insurance for the containers used to transport the products, in addition to being required to pay cash for local handling fees.
According to the statement made by the Executive Secretary, Mr. Samson Asaki Awingobit, “It’s rather interesting to notice that even though the abovementioned deposit payments are refundable, it takes over months for the shipping lines to repay the deposit.”
The statement said, “It is also regrettable to observe that these local handling charges are being levied at a dollar rate of GHS10.85, as opposed to that of the central bank rate of 8.2.
The IEAG claims it is unwavering in its appeal for the government to use its authority under the Shipper’s Authority to ensure “this daylight thieving by the shipping lines is rectified.”
“The cupidity, as demonstrated by the shipping lines to exploit shippers (importers and exporters), is unfortunate; and we, as an association, expect the presidency to compel the transport ministry to crack the whip, since the imposition of these charges by any shipping line without the approval of the relevant bodies, constitutes an infringement of the sovereign rights of the business community in Ghana.”
If the government does not respond to the importers’ and exporters’ plea, they have vowed to take to the streets in a sit-down strike.