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The Libertad blues: Ghana loses $7.6 million in rent charges
From: Ghana | Daily Graphic          Published On: December 20, 2012, 00:50 GMT
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The Libertad blues: Ghana loses $7.6 million in rent charges

The Libertad

The Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) has posted a revenue loss of $7.6 million over the 76 days that the Argentine frigate the ARA Libertad occupied the prime berth at Tema Harbour.

Officials have also indicated their intention to recover some $18,278 in rent charges from Map Shipping Agency, agents for NML Capital Limited, the hedge fund group whose unrepaid loan to the Argentine government prompted the ship’s impounding.

Jacob Adorkor, the acting Director of the Tema Port who disclosed this information 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 one point saw 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.

NML Capital, a Cayman Islands investment firm, has said it is owed $370 million by Argentina after the country defaulted on loan payments as its economy was in free fall in 2000.

Apart from depriving the GPHA of revenue, the detention of the vessel at the time compounded congestion problems 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, preventing officials from entering the vessel, and brandishing guns, threatening to shoot any GPHA officials who dared enter the vessel.

Mr. Adorkor described the detention and the subsequent 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, 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.

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