Freight Forwarders in the Western Regional capital Takoradi have expressed their displeasure about the lingering challenges with the new Integrated Customs Management Systems (ICUMS) at the Takoradi Port.
The freighters last week, picketed at the Customs Office of the Ghana Revenue in Takoradi to call for the immediate suspension of UNIPASS system until the operators are able to fix the problem with the new system.
Derick Prince Abodjan, the Chairman of the Takoradi District of GIFF, speaking to the media urged the government to temporarily suspend the operations of UNIPASS and restore GCNet/WestBlue system at Takoradi Port, just as done at the Tema Port, while the challenges with the UNIPASS were fixed.
“It is appropriate to go back to it for at least three months until all issues are solved,” he said.
He said “All we are saying is that, if I have a machine that I’m working with and it takes me 10 minutes to do a job and you bring me a new one and a better machine but this machine is going to take me three hours to do the same job, then there is a problem and we must fix it.
Mr Paul Ato Bentil, an Executive Member of the Institute, said the new UNIPASS system brought in to replace the existing vendors GCNet/WestBlue “has not been helpful as was touted.”
“The shipping lines and other stakeholders are having a lot of challenges. Initially we felt it was just an ordinary glitch, but now we have noticed that it is a real problem,” he said.
“For instance, if you send your declaration or CCVR, it was previously taking us some short time to process on the GCNet/WestBlue system, but now it can even take more than three weeks and it will still be in the UNIPASS system,” he alleged.
The Minority in Parliament and policy think-tank Imani Africa have over the past weeks being calling for a suspension of the new ICUMS/UNIPASS system to safeguard government revenue.
Given the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, government has had to reduce its revenue projections for the year.
Deputy Ranking Member on the Trade, Industry and Tourism Committee in Parliament, Yusif Sulemana, warned over potential judgement debt by doing away with current vendors.
“The GCNet concept is one of the only projects that each government in the 4th Republic has built upon. The government will be the only one to depart from this. And strangely, they are doing so recklessly that the potential of saddling the country with judgement debt could not be higher.”
GCNet/WestBlue earlier this month shut their systems to allow UNIPASS deploy its system fully in compliance with the directives by the government.
However, for over two days freighters were unable to clear their goods.
An Imani Africa analysis show that Ghana earns about GHC 33million per day at its ports. Thus about GH¢ 66million was lost due to the challenges with the ICUMS/UNIPASS.
The situation necessitated an emergency meeting between government and all stakeholders.
At the end of the meeting GCNet/WestBlue were made to turn their systems back on to salvage the situation.
BY TIMES REPORTER