Freight forwarders and importers would have to continue to cough up huge sums of monies to be able to clear goods at the Tema Port as management of the Meridian Port Services (MPS) have failed to heed to the Transport Minister, Kwaku Ofori Asiamah’s directive for the Ghana Ports and Habour’s Authority (GPHA) and MPS to as a matter of urgency reduce the December 2 tariff increment to 40 percent.
GPHA and the Meridian Port Services last week announced a 10.9 percent increase in cargo handling charges at the Tema Port but the increment was met with stiff opposition as freight forwarders complained that the increment was over 200 percent.
This, however, compelled the Transport Minister to convene an immediate emergency meeting between all stakeholders to get the issues resolved.
The Minister at the end of the engagements directed GPHA to immediately reverse and reduce some of the charges implemented on December 2, which key among the intervention is for GPHA to reduce the tariff increment to 40% across board, cease upfront charges on red channel containers, cease calculating shore handling charges in dollars, and also desist from charging double transport charges on containers.
However, just as importers are bracing themselves to comply with the new directive by the Minister, MPS in a statement says importers would have to continue to pay the December 2 increment until it is done with talks with GPHA.
In a statement released by MPS to it’s customers on 7th December, it admonished customers to continue with the payment of the increased fee in cargo handling charges as it continues to hold discussions with the GPHA.
The statement said “kindly take note that we are in discussion with GPHA regarding implementation of the concession tariff and shall confirm the final position in due course… until then the GPHA published tariff of 2nd December, 2019 shall apply.”
The statement further advised it’s customers to keep their receipts for reconciliation after the talks with GPHA.
“Kindly keep your invoices and receipts safe as we may reconcile same after discussions with GPHA.”
But the Deputy Chairman of the Tema Chapter of the Ghana Institute of Freight forwarders, GIFF and A technical Committee Member of the association, Johnny Mantey, says the association is convening an emergency meeting to look into the MPS directive as it is in bad faith.
He said “the Minister’s directive was straight forward and direct as he asked GPHA to adhere to the directive and begin implementation of same by 5th December…So we are highly surprised at the new twist MPS is taking and we will only give MPS up to Monday to communicate to us the way forward or face their wrath.”
“We are surprised at this new dimension by MPS because they were in that same meeting together with all the stakeholders when the Minister made the announcement and so where from this new dimension. We believe they are acting as a super power and the time has come to crack the whip. We, at GIFF shall give them up to monday to hear from them and failure to which we shall advice ourselves”
Mr Mantey noted that, reconciliation of receipts and refunds takes time and they cannot go through that stressful ordeal.
He said “GPHA has already come out with the forth schedule that captures the new tariff adjustment as announced by the Minister so it is quite unfortunate MPS has to take a new dimension.”
Efforts to get officials of MPS to make further comments on the said statement has proved futile.