The Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana has expressed its “shock” and “disbelief” at the increase in port tariffs by 80 per cent by the Meridian Port Services (MPS) contrary to the “agreed” tariff adjustment of 10.9% for local-handling charges and called on the Ghana Shippers Authority and the Ghana Ports and Habours Authority (GPHA) “to, as a matter of urgency, direct MPS to withhold any tariff charges.”
In a statement signed by its General Secretary, Mr Sampson Awingobit Asaki, the importers and exporters said they have “noticed with grief, an ongoing illegality being perpetrated by MPS at the country's ports in the wake of the implementation of the 10.9% tariff increase which took effect today.”
The group said: “Per our checks and complaints from some members of the association, we found out that the supposed 10.9% tariff increase for local-handling charges of which we spoke strongly against, has now metamorphosed into an 80% tariff increase being collected by MPS at its new terminal 3.”
The group said documents available to the association show that “the 10.9% tariff increase for local-handling charges, which was agreed upon by the Ghana Shippers Authority, Ghana Port and Harbours Authority and Meridian Port Holdings without broader consultation with the stakeholders, is now being fraudulently pegged at 80% by MPS”, illustrating: “An importer, who was paying GHS12,000 as local-handling charges as of November 29 2019”, was, by 2 December 2019, “made to pay a little over GHS25,000 for the same consignment.”
“It is, therefore, shocking … that MPS will go contrary to the 'agreed' tariff adjustment while the Ghana Shippers Authority and the GPHA looks on shamelessly”, the group added, saying it “envisaged the current happenings long ago”.
The association is demanding “the scrapping of the 10.9% or the 80% tariff increase for local-handling charges, since the agreement between our mother body, that is Ghana Shippers Authority, which is supposed to act in our interest as traders, rather sold the country's birthright to MPS for its personal gains”.
It said: “Based on the over 15 complaints to its office since Monday, which clearly shows an overbilling on local-handling charges, it is convinced that the current happenings were long-planned by the 3 parties: the GSA, GPHA and MPS, without consideration to the repercussions it will have on Ghanaian traders.”
The association called “on the Ghana Shippers Authority and the GPHA to, as a matter of urgency, direct MPS to withhold any tariff charges while the issue is investigated” and indicated that “failure by the two bodies to do so, would not only incur” it wraths, but also give the association “the leeway to demand change at the helm of affairs.”