The Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA) has clarified the reason behind its decision to abandon the fumigation contract signed by itself as the client, the Ghana Health Service (GHS), as the regulator, and LCB Worldwide Ghana Limited, as the service provider.
It explained that the contract contained clauses that were not in favour of the country and also not in line with its mandate of protecting the interests of shippers.
The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the authority, Mr Fred Atogyire, told the Graphic Business in Accra at the weekend that although the GSA signed the contract, it later realised it was not in favour of the country.
“We went out of the contract because we realised at a point that the contract was not in favour of the country and also not in line with our mandate of protecting the interests of shippers,” he said.
He said although LCB Worldwide Ghana was almost set to roll out the project, the Authority had not done anything to warrant its position as a client, demonstrating its unwillingness to be part of the project.
Under the contract, the GSA is to ensure that the service provider is placed on the existing mandatory electronic platform for the collection of fees and charges that have been determined by the service provider to ensure that shippers, subject to the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) Customs regime, pay the fees stipulated in this agreement.
The contract says that the service provider of the fumigation services shall conduct business at the country’s existing ports, and any other ports it will build in the future for the next 25 years with an option for a 10-year extension.
Mr Atogyire said the demand for extension was skewed in favour of the service provider even as the country was yet to determine its capacity.
Responds from LCB
When contacted, a Director at LCB Worldwide Ghana Limited, Mr Abdul Kareem, said, “once the GSA decided to opt out of the contract, all parties agreed that additional document be drafted and attached to the main contract to serve as a proof that indeed, the Authority had pulled out. Yet up to date, the GSA is refusing to sign the document.”
Meanwhile, he said LCB Worldwide Ghana Limited remained focused on its mandate and was ready to consider any reasonable amendment or changes in the contract.
He observed that the company was investing more than US$ 15 million in the project to execute its mandate of disinfecting cargos at the various ports and points of entry.
“We are investing a huge sum of money into the project that is why the drafters of the contract decided to give us an inclusivity and protection.”
The company has already set-up its operations with the construction of seven tunnels at the Tema Port and has begun constructing tunnels at the Takoradi Port and other entry and exit points of the country to position it in a better state to undertake the exercise.
This tussle among the three parties, coupled with agitations among shippers, led by the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), forced the government to indefinitely suspend the fumigation levy on imports and exports.
The fumigation exercise is in line with laid-down bio-security measures of the International Health Regulations (IHR) and will serve as an effective response to Ghana’s need to be proactive in dealing with public health issues.
Focus on the benefits
The Director in charge of the Public Health Division of the GHS, Dr Badu Sarkodie, urged stakeholders in the industry to assess the overall benefit of the exercise which included preventing bio-hazardous infectious diseases from entering the country rather than the imposition of the levy.
He said the best option out of this impasse was a broader consultation with stakeholders on the need for the exercise.
He admitted that the regulator and the service provider had not undertaken adequate stakeholder engagement and it was for that reason that the exercise was greeted with gross protests.