Shipping lines in the country have denied slapping demurrage charges on importers even after it has emerged that their systems failures caused the delays.
Deputy Transport Minister Daniel Nii Kwatei Titus Glover, while speaking at the 10th anniversary celebration of Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) last week, took a swipe at the shipping lines for slapping demurrage charges on importers even after it had been established that the shipping line was the cause of the delay.
The Minister said “I think that if through no fault of any client and the fault is coming from the shipping line, and it is justified…it is proper and fair that you will be able to take off that unnecessary fee that is slapped on the client so that they will be happy to do business with you when it comes to demurrage.”
He continued: “…In the demurrage area…I am happy that my Director of Port engaged all shipping lines and gave more than a moratorium when the paperless started. Apart from the seven days, there was another moratorium which was given to ensure that all the challenges that were coming up within that time were resolved and so we thank you very much for that.”
The Minister’s argument was premised on the fact that he had been approached by an importer who complained that while he was at a shipping line to transact business, the IT system of the particular shipping line went down, culminating in the inability of the company to service the importer.
According to the Minister’s narration, the importer reported that he was still charged demurrage even after it was established that the cause of the delay was not his, but that of the shipping line.
Yet, Vice President of the Ship Owners and Agents Association of Ghana, Adam Imoru Ayarna, reacting to the Minister’s claim, opined that the shipping lines will not deliberately slap charges on importers particularly when they realise they are at fault.
According to him, it will be very unfortunate for any shipping line to have engaged in such a practice. He said, “It is not right and I don’t think any shipping line will do that.
“If it indeed happened then I am sure it was an oversight.”
He insisted: “I would say that our members will not do that but if anything of the sort comes to our attention, we will approach the members and resolve it.”