500 imported containers abandoned at ports… by state owned Agencies

More than 500 containers of goods belonging to State-Owned Agencies (SOAs)remained uncleared at the ports since September 9 this year, the Ghana Shipper Authority (GSA) has said.

This, according to the authority was a penchant for consignments of SOAs to overstay at the ports with severe financial consequences.

The Chief Executive Officer of GSA, Ms Benonita Bismarck said this yesterday in a speech read on her behalf at a seminar on container demurrage in Accra.

 The seminar which was held under the theme “demurrage is avoidable” brought together participants drawn from the Association of Ghana Industries,(AGI), Chamber of Mines, Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), Committee of Freight Forwarder Association, ship owners and other stakeholders.

 She stated that information randomly gathered from five shipping lines across the country revealed that 49 containers of goods had been at the ports for over 2,000 days 116 containers of goods, 1,000 to 1999 days, 78 containers and 500 to 999 days.

Also, she mentioned that 205 containers of goods had been at the port for between 100 and 499 days while 60 containers of goods had spent up to 99 days at the port.

She stated that while these consignments would not be forfeited to the state for the purposes of auction, their eventual clearance would be accompanied by huge demurrage and rent charges that had accumulated over the period at the ports.

“I would like to use this opportunity  to appeal to Chief Directors, Chief Executives, Managing Director and other relevant officers of Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs)/State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), to take urgent action to ensure that consignments are expeditiously cleared from the ports to mitigate the use of state resources on such good and avoid costs,” she added.

Despite these challenges, she said the authority had been able to reduce demurrage from $76 million in 2017 to $27 million in 2019, and further down to $19 million in 2021.

Ms Bismarck attributed the downward trajectories to initiatives taken by the Authority to sensitise the shippers as well as the paperless regime and Integrated Customs Management System(ICUMS) introduced by the government.

“These improvements, notwithstanding, the goal of the Authority to pursue a further reduction to the barest minimum in the interest of shippers and the national economy, especially in the face of recent increases in the demurrage daily rates by some shipping lines, coupled with the current exchange rate volatility,” she added.

Ms Bismarck said there was the need for further engagement with stakeholders, since the authority had been dealing with pertinent industry issues bordering on costs, delays and general service quality issues within the shipping and cargo sectors.

On his part, the Deputy Commissioner of Suspense Regimes of the Customs Division of Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Mr Emmanuel Ohene said detention charges apply when containers that had been taken out of the ports were not returned to the shipping line within the agreed time.

He said detention charges, which was $70 a day per a 40 footer container, was avoidable when importers take urgent action in the clearance of their cargo.


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