SHIPPERS who imported containerised cargo into the country for the first quarter of this year paid US$15.4 million to shipping lines for undue grounding and detention of containers after the mandatory free periods.
The figure represents a decline of about 23 per cent compared with the total demurrage payment for the same period in 2017, mostly by the importing community.
Data from the Research Monitoring and Evaluation Department of the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA) has showed.
Last year, for instance, shippers paid about US$76 million as container demurrage to the shipping lines operating at the various ports in the country.
A situation, shippers explained contributed to the high cost of imported goods, congestion at the ports, excessive loss of revenue, inefficiencies at the ports among others.
Also, frequently system breakdown, delays from the service providers, bureaucratic operational procedures and unreliable clearing agents are some but major causes of the container demurrage at the ports.
Previous statistics indicated that over 80 per cent of consignees were unable to clear their cargoes at the ports within the seven days allowable time resulting in container demurrage.
Ghana’s seaborne trade is mainly dependent on imports-rice, sugar, personal effects, poultry products, cars among others including toothpicks and match boxes.
Shipping lines charge shippers an average of US$22 and US$ 44 per day for 20-foot equivalent unit containers respectively for the first 14 days after the expiration of the free days.
These charges go up from the next 15 to 21 days thereafter.
Statistics from the GSA show that Ghana’s total imports for 2016 registered 12.1 million tonnes and the figure increased by 17.5 per cent to 14.16 million tonnes in 2017.
As an import-dependent economy with a developing maritime industry beset with bottlenecks, Ghana’s economy bleeds annually over the payment of demurrage and rent by shippers.
Studies undertaken by the GSA indicate that shippers in the country paid about US$171 million to shipping lines as demurrage and GH¢90 million in rent charges cumulatively for 2016 and 2017 due to delays in the clearance of their cargoes at the Tema and Takoradi ports. — GB