Freight Forwarders, Agents Angry

A GROUP called ‘Occupy GSA,’ which is made up of freight forwarders and customs house clearing agents, have threatened to boycott the ports in the country in protest against the imposition of Advance Shipment and Information Systems (ASHI) by the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA).

Members of the group, clad in red and chanting war songs to express their displeasure, mentioned that if the ASHI was levied on them, they would not hesitate to go on strike for a number of days without paying duties in all the Ghana Revenue Authority’s (GRA’s) collection points.

‘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,’ they further threatened.

The GSA had announced that it would implement ASHI from March 1, 2015. This implies that every bill of lading for shipments to Ghanaian seaports would need to be covered by a validated ASHI document before clearing.

But addressing a news conference in Tema, Dennis Amfo Boakye, chairman of Occupy GSA, was of the view that if the ASHI was implemented, it would give authority to shippers to increase every cost they may incur and pass it on to the importer.

According to him, importers will be compelled to channel their imports through neighbouring countries and clear them by land.

The chairman of Occupy GSA further explained, ‘Our harbour will be deserted, which will result in revenue loss to the nation and a lot of job losses to a country that is already fighting unemployment.’

He noted that the implementation of ASHI would make the clearing of goods more cumbersome at the country’s ports, and have threatened to resist its implementation.

Mr. Boakye said the execution of ASHI would not stop demurrage and rent payment, adding that ‘GSA has failed woefully to address issues in the Shipping Review Vol. 16, which contains information on the spate of charges imposed by shipping lines and their agents on shippers in Africa.’

The GSA however, claimed that it would not rescind its decision to implement the ASHI, with the belief that it would help reduce the cost of doing business at the country’s ports.

According to them, importers and exporters would benefit significantly from the introduction of the ASHI as it would reduce the incidence of payment of high rent and demurrage charges.

From Vincent Kubi, Tema

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