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Freight Forwarders to sue port officials over ‘unfair charges’

Freight forwarders in the country have initiated processes to seek legal action against shipping lines over what they say are illegal charges against them.

The group is lamenting over fees they pay on weekends and holidays as part of demurrages.

They are also unhappy, the shipping lines use a foreign interbank rate to charge them for demurrages instead of the approved Bank of Ghana rate.

In addition, they are calling for the abolishment of some administrative charges.

Checks by Citi Business News show that a 40 footer container is charged about $50 dollars excluding VAT, a day as demurrages.

According to the Ghana Shippers Authority, shippers paid $76 million dollars as demurrages in 2017 alone.

Speaking to Citi Business News, the Head of Technical Committee at the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, Jonny Mantey said all efforts to get their grievances addressed have proved futile, hence the legal action.

“We are in a space where clearing your goods within seven days is quite difficult and so until that is addressed they should take away the public holidays, and weekends as free. They should not be calculated as demurrage,” Mantey lamented.

Meanwhile, Vice President Dr. Bawumia has directed Port officials to institute measures to reduce the turnaround time at the ports to avoid money lost in demurrages.

Following this, Port officials have announced that they will soon begin a joint inspection by the Ghana Revenue Authority, the Ghana Standards Authority and the Food and Drugs Authority to ease the clearing processes.

Mr. Mantey said until the turnaround time is reduced, they cannot be burdened with unnecessary charges.

“They even charge administrative fees for empty containers, after paying for rents, that is very bad,” Mantey stated.

He further disclosed that their lawyers have begun documentation procedures to start the legal processes.

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