Cost of doing business too high at the ports – Shippers Authority

BY: Samuel K. Obour

Mr Emmanuel Martey, Deputy Chief Executive of the Ghana Shippers Authority addressing the meetingThe Deputy Chief Executive of the Ghana Shippers Authority, Mr Emmanuel Martey says the high cost of doing business at the country’s ports and borders makes it uncompetitive. Such high costs, he said remains the biggest disincentives on the growth of import and export businesses in the shipping industry in the country.
Mr Martey said experts had bemoaned the rising cost and highlighted its effects on the competiveness of Ghanaian shippers and ports.
Speaking at a forum for importers and exporters in Takoradi, Mr Martey partly attributed the incidence to the unauthorized and indiscriminate charges by shipping and clearing agents as wells as cumbersome cargo clearance procedures.
He said other factors identified include delays by shipping line/agents in the processing and release of cargo documents as well as processes involved in obtaining the necessary licenses and permits from the statutory bodies.
The deputy CEO said the cumbersome and slow processes in obtaining final classification and valuation reports from destination inspection companies plus the cost of securing adequate infrastructure remain challenges that add up to the cost of doing business.
He said studies carried out by the Authority estimated a yearly payment of demurrage charges (compensation paid when there is a delay in loading or unloading a carrier causing a delay in the carrier's departure) by shippers, was about $40 million to the shipping lines.
In addition, there is another GHS20 million in rent charges to the delays in the clearance of cargoes by shippers.
“It is common knowledge that high maritime cost for imported goods impact the price level of the basket of consumer goods and conversely, excessive freight rates for exports affects the trade competitiveness of products of the country in the global market,” he said.
He said it was right, therefore, to invite the stakeholders to a forum to define the approaches to reduce high inbound and outbound transport costs.Mrs Monica Josiah Western Region Manager of the Shippers Authority
Mr. Martey said it was important to note that in an attempt to reduce cost, service standards must be commensurate with the cost of transaction.
The Authority, he said, therefore would like to stress the need for the regulatory bodies and agencies responsible for issuing of licenses and permits to also provide adequate information on the services they render to shippers especially, when there were changes in their services deliveries.
“It is important to note that simplification of the clearance procedures would go a long way in assisting shippers to clear their cargoes with minimum delays,” he said.
He said over the years, the Authority had been at the forefront of ensuring that importers and exporters conducted their businesses well enough without the needless delays and high costs.
The Western regional branch manager of Authority, Mrs Monica Josiah, said the seminar was one of several periodic forums to educate and equip stakeholders with the requisite knowledge to enhance their competiveness.
Various other speakers indicated that most of the delays at the ports were avoidable if the importers did the right thing.
They were of the view that many in the import and export community do a lot of things wrongly and also fail to submit the right information needed to speed up the process.
They however commended that Authority for engaging the shippers to educate them on new developments to improve their line of business and make them more competitive.

Story and photo: Moses Dotsey Aklorbortu, Takoradi