Freight Forwarders Threaten To Cripple Economy

Some concerned freight forwarders and customs house agents  are threatening to withdraw their services if the Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA) goes ahead with its planned  introduction of the Advance Shipment Information (ASHI).

Describing it as a burden to importers, exporters and consumers, the group said the ASHI is a smart move by the GSA to “crazily amass wealth.”

Number over 200 and clad in red and black , the freight forwarders last Tuesday indicated their  readiness to stop the GSA's ASHI from operating on March 1,

Mr  Dennis Anfo Sefah, the group chairman, said if the 'killer' ASHI is forced on them by the GSA by March 1 as stated by a letter served all shipping lines by the GSA, they will go on a sit down strike for two days and no duties would be paid in all the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) customs division collection points.

"If after the two days the money chopping ASHI avenue is not suspended and repealed, we will extend our sit down strike to seven days and then advise ourselves thereafter," Dennis Sefah.

He explained that 'killer' ASHI, if allowed to be implemented, would eventually increase every cost they incur and pass it on to the importer who will also push the cost to the final consumer.

Besides, importers might be forced to channel their imports through neighbouring countries and clear them by land and when the Ghana ports are deserted, huge revenue will be lost and a lot of jobs will be lost too.

Finally, ASHI, which in the estimation of the GSA will add value to the shipping and clearing process at the ports, Mr Sefah argued, cannot stop demurrage and rent payment in anyway or form.

In a seven-point reason explaining why GSA's ASHI move is non-factual, Mr Sefah said the Destination Inspection Companies (DICs) are performing the same duties the GSA purports to embark on "because documents of import are always sent to the DICs for issuance of validation certificates."

Mr Dennis Anfo Sefah was of the strong view that because the core function of the GSA in assisting shippers has been obsolete since the 1980s, it has been trying hard to look for work to do.

He warned that 'red fire' awaits the government and GSA should the 'money siphoning' ASHI move be introduced.

The Ghana Shippers Authority had said it will not relent on its moves to implement the Advance Shipment and Information Systems (ASHI). According to the Shippers Authority ASHI, when implemented will help in reducing the cost of doing business at the country’s ports.

According to Chief Executive Officer of GSA, Dr Kofi Mbia said the importers and exporters will benefit significantly from the ASHI as it will reduce the incidence of payments of high rent and demurrage charges.

The GSA maintains that its outfit did engage importers and exporters, CEPS, GHIPPS  before the announcement of the implementation of the new system.

‘’In fact some of the concerns that the shippers raised have significantly shaped the L.I as it is today but way back in October 2014, the Ghana Shippers Authority wrote to all the stakeholders again and we went through another round of engagement and sensitization and so I would be very surprised if any stakeholder within the maritime industry says they were not consulted or involved in the passage of the law and then the implementation of ASHI,’’ said Head Of Public Relations at the GSA, Fred Asiedu-Dartey.