The Ghana Shippers Authority (GSA) has urged state institutions to promptly clear goods in shipping containers at the Port as their inability to do so was compounding the shortage of containers globally.

Head of Freight and Logistics at the GSA, Fred Asiedu-Dartey, speaking to the media on the impact of the global shortage of containers on Ghana’s shipping industry bemoaned the huge number of containers left uncleared at Ghana’s ports by some state institutions and individual businesses.

Mr Asiedu-Dartey said the act did not only compound and severely impede the flow of containers out of the country, but also ended up congesting the port terminals.

He observed that the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) was unable to auction such uncleared goods belonging to state agencies as it was against the country’s clearing laws.

“The law doesn’t allow Customs to auction those goods belonging to state institutions, so you end up having containers sitting in the ports for 100 days, 300 days and some have been there for five years, this is unacceptable,” he said.

He disclosed that the GSA was leading an industry-wide committee consisting of the Shipping Lines, the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), and the Customs Division of GRA to roll out a standard operating procedure to proffer effective solutions in the administration of the uncleared cargo list.

Mr Asiedu-Dartey, said the shortage and its resultant increase in freight charges could be as a result of lack of return cargo from the country explaining that “imports coming in often do not have return cargo, so the cost of the repositioning of the container among other things, is built into the cost of the freight. Improving our export base will help to mitigate the freight costs.”

He said, “Forty-footer containers from the North China area was around $3,600.00 around June 2020, by December 2020, it had gone up to $7,950.00 and by May 2021, it had gone up to $10,200.00, and as we speak, it is between $12,000.00 and $13,000.00”.

He identified other ways to improve the circulation of boxes from the local perspective was to increase export.

 Meanwhile, in view of the shortage of shipping containers having a severe disruption in the global supply chain, Mr Maxwell Ampong, Chief Executive Officer of Maxwell Investments Group, an agro-commodities trader had called for a reorientation of stakeholders’ attitude toward shipping.

 Mr Ampong attributed global shortage to the world’s over-dependence on imports from the Far East especially China explaining that “the whole world depends on China for imports.

“So, if these containers leave and don’t circle back, the global circulation equilibrium is distorted. There is an increase in demand, all the ships are ready yet there aren’t enough containers. Containers that, hitherto, before Covid, were to be in some ports, are locked elsewhere”.

He said, additionally, the western economies were also unable to recover as quickly as China did during the Covid-19 pandemic, leading to an impeding of the rotation of boxes across ports.