The Ghana Union of Traders’ Association (GUTA) has bemoaned the Ghana Ports and Harbor Authority’s (GPHA) decision to clear all goods from the country’s ports despite the partial lockdown imposed on parts of the country due to COVID-19.
Accra, Tema, Kasoa and Kumasi are currently under a partial lockdown in a bid to limit the spread of the coronavirus and also make contact tracing easier and more effective.
Only essential service workers such as food vendors, the media, and fuel station attendants are exempted from this directive.
On the back of this, the GPHA, however, says it is expediting the clearance process for all port users to clear their goods from the various sea ports.
Expressing its displeasure about this move, GUTA, in a statement said, “It is very sad that while most of our members can not move out freely because they are all adhering to the restrictions announced by government, the shipping lines are asking that since they are still working, our members whose goods have arrived at the ports should clear them or pay demurrage if the containers continue to remain at the ports during this lockdown period.”
“Another sad aspect is that, with most of our businesses closed, it has become very difficult for our members to make the needed sales to even pay for the duties at this point in time,” GUTA added in the statement.
According to GUTA, attempts to ask the ports authority to rescind its decision through the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ghana Shippers Authority have proved futile.
The traders’ association is, therefore, pleading with the government to “strongly appeal to the shipping lines and GPHA to give unconditional waivers to demurrage and rent charges during this period of the lockdown… It is our hope that government quickly heeds to our call so that our members are not forced to clear their goods and open their shops and warehouses to offload their goods.”
Clearance of goods
Already Ghana has closed its borders indefinitely.
While making the announcement of the closure of Ghana’s borders to prevent importation of the coronavirus into the country, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, said the directive “will not apply to goods, supplies and cargo”.
Due to this, the GPHA has been in operation and began facilitating the clearance of all goods, “and not just what is being speculated as essential items” through country’s ports of Ghana on April 9.
The Authority also implored all port users to adhere to the measures put in place, as they will be given special passes to enable them have access the port to clear their goods due to the partial lockdown.
“Importers, cargo owners, freight forwarders and all port users who have goods to clear from Ghana’s ports, are entreated to undergo needed processes and clear their goods, until and unless there is any executive correspondence to the contrary,” it said.
“However, in adherence to the social distancing rule, every individual who is eligible to transact business at the Port will be given a special permit by the GPHA. Customs will also issue special passes to freight forwarders and importers,” it added.