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Ghana loses $7.6 million in rent charges on Argentine ship

The Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) has posted a revenue loss of $7.6 million as a result of the occupation of its prime berth at the Tema Harbour by the Argentine frigate, the ARA Libertad, for 76 days.

Officials have also indicated their intention to pursue Map Shipping Agency, agents for NML Capital Limited, a hedge fund group, to recover some $18,278 in rent charges for the 76 days that the frigate spent at the port.

The acting Director of the Tema Port, Mr Jacob Adorkor, who disclosed this to the Daily Graphic in Tema, said the GPHA would decide whether the $7.6 million should be waived as an opportunity cost or institute legal action against the representatives of NML Capital to recover the lost revenue.

“Since the GPHA, as an entity, was not party to the matter, any economic loss by the authority as a result of the action taken by the creditors which sought to deprive the GPHA of its revenue must be borne by the creditors,” he said.

The ARA Libertad, which was detained at the Tema Port on October 2, this year, at a point saw the crew members brandishing weapons to stop port authorities from relocating the ship to a new berth in the wake of a court ruling secured by the GPHA.

The seizure of the vessel was at the behest of NML Capital Ltd, which is demanding full compensation from the Argentine government following that country’s financial default over a decade ago.

NML Capital, a Cayman Islands investment firm, has said it is owed $370 million by Argentina in bonds at a discount when Argentina’s economy was in free fall in 2000.

Apart from depriving the GPHA of the needed revenue, the detention of the vessel at the time further created serious congestion at the port.

Officials of the GPHA, acting on a High Court ruling of November 5, 2012 to relocate the vessel from Berth 11, a busy commercial area, to a safer site to make way for business space at the berth, had to abandon the exercise for fear of their lives.

The crew of the ship removed the gangway, thereby preventing officials from entering the vessel, while brandishing guns and threatening to shoot any GPHA officials who dared enter the vessel.

Mr Adorkor described the detention and the follow-up drama as unfortunate, since Ghana, as an entity, was not involved in the process that led to the detention.

The vessel, with its remaining 43 member crew, has since departed for Argentina, following its release by the GPHA, acting on a National Security directive and that of an Accra High Court which rescinded its ruling for the frigate to be detained.

Source: Daily Graphic

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