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COVID-19: GUTA appeals for 3-week grace period to clear goods

The Ghana Union of Traders’ Association (GUTA) is making fresh appeals to government to give its members a three-week grace period to mobilize funds to clear their goods from the country’s various ports amidst the novel Coronavirus pandemic.

GUTA’s concerns come barely a week after the Ghana Shippers’ Authority officially informed the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), and all other players in the shipping industry to waive off charges on “demurrage/detention and storage rent charges” on all cargo which have remained uncleared at the ports from March 30, 2020 to April 19, 2020 following a directive by government.

GUTA in a statement claimed that some misgivings from the Ship Owners and Agents Association of Ghana following the government’s directive have brought to light some challenges.

A statement signed by the President of GUTA, Dr. Joseph Obeng dated Sunday 26th April, 2020, stated that, “as a matter of expediency, we would appeal to the Government through the Minister of Transport and also our Sector Minister, Honourable Minister of Trade and Industry, to give all those who have been affected in this matter of 30th March to 19th April, 2020, a grace period of three (3) weeks to mobilize funds and clear their goods at the ports”.

“We have received a copy of a letter on the same subject matter from the Ship Owners and Agents Association of Ghana to the Ghana Shippers’ Authority expressing some reservations regarding some aspects of the contents of the directive. Thus, this will go a long way to avert any agitation that may arise out of the frustrations that our members encounter at the moment,” GUTA’s president added in the statement.

GUTA is also seeking for clarification on whether charges on cargo which “arrived prior to the lock-down but was not cleared as at the date of the lifting of the lock-down” should be waived.

Among other demands, GUTA is also seeking for clarity on cargo arriving between the lock-down period up to the date of lifting on April 19, 2020; and what should be expected in case of another partial lock-down.
The Union also is demanding for an explanation on the issue of how cargo arriving within this period should be treated as the lock-down has been lifted.

While acknowledging that the concerns raised by the ship owners and agents association are legitimate, GUTA stated that its concerns need to be addressed urgently in order not to cause further delay in carrying out the directive of the Minister of Transport so the situation is not worsened for “our members who are already frustrated.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lock-down measures in the country, the logistics chain has been severely disrupted and the associated businesses have also been affected hugely.

GUTA unhappy over directive to clear goods despite COVID-19 lock-down

Earlier this month, the Ghana Union of Traders’ Associations (GUTA), petitioned government to compel the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) and the shipping lines to defer rentals and waive ‘demurrage and rent charges’ on cargo at the country’s ports during the period of the partial lock-down amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to GUTA, attempts to get the authorities of the Ghana Port and Harbours Authority, GPHA, as well as owners of shipping lines through the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ghana Shippers Authority to waive off the charges have proven futile.

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