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Shippers, Service Provider Tango Over Charges   
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The umbrella bodies of shippers, clearing agents and freight forwarders in the country are poles apart on how charges for services rendered should be levied.

While the Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA) insists shippers must not pay beyond the maximum charges agreed to by the authority and the agents, the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF), which is the umbrella body of freight forwarders, say individual shippers and agents should be given the freedom to negotiate how much should be paid for each service rendered.

The GIFF has subsequently described the Shippers’ Authority’s latest publication of the maximum amounts shippers must pay for specific category of services as a sign of “showmanship” that will not change anything in the industry.

“How can advertising the charges prevent an agent from charging higher? As far as we are concerned shippers will always bargain with agents on charges,” the President of the freight forwarders, Mr Carlos Ahenkora, told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS on October 9.

“Besides, this is a free market and we think shippers should be given that right to negotiate with their individual agents,” he added.

The Shippers Authority last year secured a legislative instrument, the GSA Regulation 2012, (LI 21900), which makes it possible for the authority to negotiate with the umbrella bodies of the clearing agents and freight forwarders on the charges that should be levied for each category of service rendered.

The authority, acting under that regulation, concluded the said negotiations early this year and subsequently published the agreed rates. The Chief Executive Officer of the GSA, Dr Kofi Mbiah, explained in an interview that the said publication was to help serve as a guide to shippers on the maximum amounts they should pay.

“The negotiations made it quite clear that there are maximums to be charged and that is what we are telling shippers,” he said. While admitting that individual negotiations between shippers and agents sometimes lead to lower charges, Dr Mbiah said such low fees were mostly enjoyed by big shippers that had the clout to influence the decisions arrived at.

“But there are many more shippers that don’t have that clout and the possibility is that they will always be charged higher than is normal.” “That is what we are concern about,” Dr Mbiah added.

The LI 21900 forces agents and freight forwarders that charge higher than agreed to refund the excesses and Dr Mbiah said his outfit would liaise with the individual shippers to ensure that the LI was followed to the letter. He, however, called on the shipping community to be conversant with the various approved rates so as not to be overcharged.
Source: Graphic Business

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