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Sun, Sep

FREIGHT FORWARDERS KICK AGAINST 11% INCREASE IN TEMA PORT TARIFFS

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Freight forwarders at Tema Port are kicking against a request by Meridian Port Services (MPS) for an 11 per cent increase in port charges at its new terminal.

Freight forwarders at Tema Port are kicking against a request by Meridian Port Services (MPS) for an 11 per cent increase in port charges at its new terminal.

The freight forwarders say any increase in tariffs will overburden importers.

The vice-president of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, Johnny Mantey, says the proposed increase is on the high side and must not be implemented.

“I am in shock about this new proposal by MPS to increase the tariff by 11 per cent, and I want to believe it is not true,” Mr Mantey said.

“I don’t even know what kind of tariff line has been increased by 11 per cent. The timing is very bad.”

Background

A letter dated May 24 2019, signed by MPS’s chief financial officer, Sunil Bansal, and addressed to the director general of the Ghana Ports and Habours Authority (GPHA), suggests there was previous communication between the two parties on a planned increase in tariffs for MPS’s Terminal 3, which is expected to go live by June 28.

The proposed increase, MPS insists, is in line with provisions of the “Deed of Amendment No 1 dated 12th June 2015”.

Part of the letter from MPS says that “every ship or vessel which berths in the concessionaire’s area shall pay in US dollars or equivalent convertible currency to the concessionaire the appropriate dues, rates and charges as specified in the said schedules”.

The same is said for shippers or consignees who use the concessionaire’s services.

The letter adds that every ship or vessel or consignee which does not earn foreign exchange and which berths or uses the terminal “shall pay to the concessionaires the cedi equivalent of the appropriate dues, rates and charge as specified in the said schedules”.

MPS warning

The letter, also addressed to the general manager in charge of finance at GPHA, the port director of Tema Port and MPS board members, requests that the new tariff be published by next week.

Meanwhile, media reports emanating from the disclosure of another document suggest that the chief executive officer of MPS, Mohamed Samara, has warned the government that the tariff on the concession agreement “must not be breached to avoid catastrophic effect”.

Why the rush?

Industry players are not enthused about the move. They say any further increase in tariffs will make the cost of doing business soar. This, they argue, is particularly inappropriate when the government says it is working to reduce the cost of doing business.

The chairman of a group known as the Concerned Freight Forwarders’ and Traders’ Association, Oheneba Akwasi Afrawua, says it is very early days for MPS to make such a move.

“We expect MPS to maintain the existing rate,” he said. “Why are they rushing? They have 35 years to run the port. They can make their profit in ten years.”

Mr Mantey also argues that the proposed 10.9 per cent increase is on the high side and must not be implemented, or it will derail government efforts to reduce the cost of doing business at the port.

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