Government of Ghana continue to lose a huge revenue at the sea ports as business at the Tema port keeps declining since the takeover of UNIPASS from GcNet and West Blues.
The downward trend is the result of delays in documentation coupled with arbitrary charges imposed on importers by shipping lines and GPHA without notifications and consultations.
At a press conference in Tema to protest against the counter productive happenings a the port, freight forwarders and importers say shipping lines have for instance arbitrarily increased port security charge from 109 dollars to 245 dollars without any notification and explanation, and also, they are charging their own exchange rate of 5.9 as against the Bank of Ghana pegged 5.75 Customs exchange rate.
Importers and freight forwarders are however surprised that the Ghana Chamber of Commerce and the Ghana Shippers Authority’s silence on the situation which they say is enriching the shipping lines’ economies to the disadvantage of Ghana.
The development, the port players say apart from causing delay in clearing goods and increasing the cost of doing business at the port, has also compelled importers to freight their goods through neighbouring ports, particularly Togo and Nigeria thereby killing business at the port and depriving the state of the expected revenue.
Mawuli Tettey Ahiafor who spoke on behalf of the freight forwarders called on the government to as a matter of urgency arrest the situation, urging civil society organisations and the media that were vocal in the recent past to find their voices before Ghana loses its accolade as the preffered port destination in the Western and Central Africa.
A freight forwarder, Lord Harris, who was asked to send his personal effects goods to chemist, a situation which never occurred under the GcNet/West Blues managed system was stunned at the level at which the UNIPASS-operated system is messing business operation at the port.
He for cited an instance where vehicles as the least item which was cleared within twenty-four hours now takes about two weeks to clear.
The declining spate of clearing and forwarding at the port currently the freight forwarders and importers say has the potential to eventually destroy business at the port if not addressed immediately.
By: Edward Tetteh