New 10.9% port tariff in limbo as importers and exporters allege over 200% rise

Freight forwarders at the Tema Port are kicking against the latest increase in tariffs at the Port. According to them, the increase is far above the 10.9 percent announced by the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, GPHA.

Some angry freight forwarders staged a minor protest on Tuesday to protest against the move.

The demonstrators in red attire said they are being shortchanged by the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, GPHA, in partnership with managers of the Meridian Port Services, MPS, who are majority shareholders of the expanded port. They accused GPHA of acting in bad faith by charging them more than the agreed 10.9 percent.

Richmond Oduro, an importer, said “We have a problem with GPHA, Last week I cleared on container and the price was normal. Then on Monday, I came in to clear a new container and the tax is high so I was surprised because I didn’t know about it; but they said I should pay. The percentage increase is about 110%.

Another importer, Paul Owusu, said “MOS has increased the charges by more than 100%. How can one person pay so much for MPS and GPHA at the same time? And we did not know about it too”.

However, the General Manager of Marketing and Public Affairs of the GPHA, Mrs. Esther Gyebi Donkor, explained that the increment is as a result of a provision in the 30-years agreement with MPS and that the GPHA’s hands are tied.

“I think the whole issue started from when they said they were not in agreement with the scheduled tariff, and that we did not reach a consensus before we sent out the notice that on 2nd of December we were going to implement the new tariff that has been developed.

We tried to explain that although a meeting was held and we did not really have that consensus, we needed to do that because it was a provision in an agreement that we have signed with MPS; and so we didn’t have much of an option; and it was explained to them that in this particular case we don’t have an option so we had to implement the tariffs”.

Mrs. Gyebi Donkor says GPHA took time to list the schedules that will be affected together with the accompanying percentages to the freight forwarders, and that she is surprised at the outrage by the freight forwarders.

“In fact, GPHA took time to spell out all the schedules that will be affected and the percentages that will come along with it, and this is what was circulated to all the major stakeholders including the freight forwarders, the shipping lines and others that will be affected with the tariff increment.

And so if today we start implementation and they’re giving that impression as if it is the 10.9% that has metamorphosed into those percentages they’re calling, that’s not the case”.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Chairman of the Tema Chapter of the Ghana Institute of Freight forwarders, Johnny Mantey, says the increment is over two hundred percent and could cripple investors if it is allowed to stay.

He, however, says a meeting that has taken place between industry players and the Transport Minister could turn out well, as the Minister has directed GPHA to reduce the tariffs from Wednesday.

“Most of our members and importers had made projections; some had signed contracts with importers and had made provisions for 10.9%, only to come back to work on December 2nd to see an increment of over 200% and it’s something that we can’t actually understand.

Thankfully [today], Tuesday, we met the Transport Minister, and the strides we’ve made are very significant, and we’re sure by today this thing should be reverted.

The Director-General of Ports was there, Shippers Authority, Freight Forwarders, GUTA and most of the stakeholders were present, and the responses were direct. He [Transport Minister] was straight to the point, and he has directed the DG to take action on this matter”.