The Western Regional office of the Ghana Shippers' Authority (GSA) in Takoradi has held a forum in the metropolis on the United Nations Convention on Contract for International Carriage of Goods Wholly or Partially by Sea, otherwise known as "The Rotterdam Rules."
The forum was aimed at sensitising the shipping community, the legislature and related government ministries and agencies to the provisions of the convention, benefits that accrue to the shipper and carrier and the rights and obligations of both the shipper and carrier.
The forum as well projected the way forward with respect to eventual ratification of the convention.
‘The Rotterdam Rules’ has been considered to be very important since it establishes a modern, comprehensive and uniform legal regime that governs the rights and obligations of shippers, carriers and consignees under a contract for door-to-door shipments involving international sea transport.
The arrangement, which was signed in the Netherlands by many countries including Ghana, in September 2009 was intended to reduce cost in international business transactions involving the carriage of goods by sea.
That notwithstanding, there are several countries that are yet to give formal consent for it to come into force. The new rules will also update and replace many provisions in the previous arrangement.
The Hague/Hamburg Rules
For well over half a century, the international administration relating to the contract of carriage of goods by sea were governed by The Hague Rules, Hague-Visby Rules and The Hamburg Rules.
Each of those rules had its weakness and over time, their implementation regarding the conduct and carriage of international trade, created some segmentation and this subsequently affected the implementation of the law in respect of maritime transportation.
The acting Western Regional Branch Manager of the GSA, Mr Frederick Atogiyire, further explained that the essence of the forum was to create a platform to enable the trade and shipping community to deliberate on the new rules before it came into force.
"The Rotterdam Rules has been described as a hybrid of the previously existing three conventions. It aims to establish uniform rules to modernise and harmonise all the rules that govern international carriage of goods by sea," he said.
He added that the goal of creating uniform rules emanated from inadequacies inherent in the three original conventions which were not able to address the intricacies of modern trade and shipping.
Collaboration with private/public organisations
Mr Atogiyire said over the years the authority had collaborated with both private and public organisations in the maritime transport industry to protect and promote the interests of shippers.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the GSA, Dr Kofi Mbeah, gave a historical background of the shipping industry dating from the colonial era. He said the industry had come of age and that required that procedures should be streamlined in the supreme interest of both shippers and the cargo owners.