The Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) on October 1 increased the safety charge for shippers from 15cents to 50 cents.
The safety charge, according to the Director General of the GMA, Kwame Owusu is backed by the Authority’s regulations passed in 2012, which allows the imposition of maritime safety fees and charges on installations, ships, pipelines, cables and other assets employed in the maritime domain.
“This is stipulated under the laws of Ghana LI 2009, for the security and safety assessment of vessels that come to our port. It has no relationship, you can come out as I have always said empty, full, dead or alive you will have to pay that fee, and that is the law,” he explained.
Kwame Owusu, described as illegal the previous administration of GMA’s decision to whittle down the 1 dollar charge by over 800 percent to 15 cents per vessel.
“The vessel owners came to the then D.G. to reduce the legislative amount of 1 dollar 15cents, and that has been in place since 2012 and that is ripping the government of Ghana,” he declared.
Speaking to Eye on Port, the GMA Boss said after assuming office, he found out that there was no basis for the reduction which led to the state losing revenue while neighbouring countries such as Nigeria charge as much as 3 dollars per vessel in safety charges.
But the Ship Owners and Agents Association of Ghana, have threatened to increase charges for their services due to the impending increase in the safety fees by GMA.
The Vice President of the Ship Owners and Agents Association, Ayana Adam Imoro, maintains the shipping lines cannot absorb the cost, thus will pass on the cost to the shipper or trading public.
“They have brought up a charge, which is a cost to business and it is a cost to the shipping business, it goes against the vessel, it goes against whatever it is to the shipping business. So yes it is an authority they have brought up a cost we have to pay, and we have to recoup our cost, it is as simple as that,” he said.
He added that the new charges could have dire consequences for the country’s maritime trade.
“So future transhipment or current transhipment and our plans for a hub will be affected if we keep increasing these costs,” he hinted.
Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary of the Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana, Samson Asaki says, importers will reject any attempt by the shipping lines to increase their charges as a result of the new safety fees.
“The fee says for safety and security. It is their responsibility to provide security for the safety of the cargo to get to Ghana, and so if someone is running such a service to them, they will have to pay, and they are saying they won’t pay and pass it on to who?” he questioned.