Shipping lines have threatened to increase charges for their services due to the increase in some administrative charges.
The businesses argue that the move has become apparent as they need to cover the potential rise in their cost of operation.
The Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) has served notice it will beginning next month (October), increase the safety charge for shippers from 15 to 50 cents.
The Authority however says it will not allow shipping lines to increase charges for their services due to the increase in fees.
But the shippers maintain they will pass on the increases to their customers.
The safety charge is backed by the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA)’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.
The shippers subsequently impressed on the previous administration to whittle down the 1 dollar charge by over 800 percent to 15 cents per vessel.
A development the new Director General of the Ghana Maritime Authority, Mr. Kwame Owusu describes as illegal as it was not backed by law.
In his view, the shipping lines were cheating the government over the five year period.
This he says must be discontinued.
“Fifteen cents out of one dollar, that’s illegal. Illegitimately, they have operated on that and fed on that, cheating the Ghana government over a period. They have been operating on this price since 2012 so I have not increased it since I came.”
Interestingly, neighbouring countries such as Nigeria charge as much as 3 dollars per vessel in safety charges.
Even in such cases, the shipping lines are required to pay within 24 hours of arrival at the ports.
The shipping lines have cautioned to pass on the rise in the charge to their clients which will result in increases in prices of goods in the near future.
Though he could not readily disclose the margin of increases, the Vice President of the Ship Owners and Agents Association, Ayana Adam Imoro maintains that they will adjust their prices upwards to reflect the rise in fees.
“I wouldn’t be able to give you a specific figure because all the players are independent companies and everything of theirs is different so I’m sure everybody is going to look at the cost and come up with something. So I will be wrong in giving you a blanket figure. Now none of them has also given me any figure. I am very confident of the price hikes because whichever way the shipping line will have to recoup their cost, either some or all,” he explained.
But the Director General of the Ghana Maritime Authority insists his outfit will not allow such decision to be implemented.
“They cannot threaten…one dollar of the Gross Tonnage of the vessel; not the merchandise. Every commercial vessel that comes into the ports of Ghana, as the law says will pay this charge irrespective of whether or not it is carrying luggage.”