Business News of Wednesday, 25 February 2015
Freight Forwarders operating at the Tema Port have threatened to embark on a two-day sit down strike should the Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA) force the Advance Shipment Information (ASHI) system on them.
The freight forwarders also threatened not to pay any duties to the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority during the strike period.
The GSA is to introduce the ASHI on March 1st, which would be mandatory for all shipments for the seaports of Ghana, including transit cargo.
Each Bill of lading for maritime shipments to Ghanaian seaports would need to be covered by a validated ASHI document.
Mr Dennis Anofo Sefa, Chairman for the Concerned Freight Forwarders and Customs House Agents, told reporters at a media conference on Tuesday that, “If after two days ASHI is not suspended leading to its repeal we will extend the sit down strike to one week, and would advise ourselves after that”.
Mr Sefa explained that the shippers would eventfully increase every cost they might incur and pass it on to the importer, who he said, would also push it on to the final consumer.
He stated that implementation of the ASHI would force importers to channel their imports through neighbouring countries for clearance.
“Our harbours will be deserted, which will result in revenue loss to the nation and lot of job losses to a country who is already fighting unemployment,” he complained.
Mr Sefa debunked the assertion that the introduction of the ASHI would stop demurrage and rent payment in any way.
He explained that demurrage and rent payments were not as a result of delays by clearing agents but rather due to non-payment of freight or full cost of the consignment.
He suggested to the GSA to rather negotiate 21 free days for all imports/shippers as was being done in other countries.
The group alleged that the introduction of ASHI would not benefit the shippers and other stakeholders in anyway, saying that it would only make way for the GSA to rake in revenue.
Mr Samson Awingobit Asaki, Executive Secretary for the Ghana Importers and Exporters Association, said his outfit was solidly behind the call from the freight forwarders.
Mr Asaki said it was unfortunate that the GSA was not supporting the shippers but rather seeking to siphon money from them.
He, therefore, called on stakeholders to participate in a demonstration on March 4 in Accra to back their demand for the cancellation of the ASHI.