Stakeholders in Ghana’s port industry have expressed displeasure about government’s decision to hand over single window port operations to Ghana Link and its overseas partner CUPIA Korea.
They are of the conviction that the move would not only create chaos at the port but a recipe for disaster which would erode all the gains made by the introduction of the paperless port.
The Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Maafo. in a letter dated February 26, 2020 and issued to the Committee of Freight Forwarders Association which was sighted by the Ghanaian Times, said: “Please be informed that from 1st of March 2020, importers will be required to clear their imports through the new customs management systems. Imports through all other points of entry shall be processed through the existing Pre-Arrival Assessment Report System (PAARS) and Ghana Customs Management System (GCM).”
The President of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF), Mr. Edmund Akrong in an interview with the Times asked the government as a matter of urgency withdraw the letter with immediate effect, stating “UNIPASS is not ready”.
According to him the current single window platform was working perfectly and there was no problem with it and freight forwarders were comfortable with the existing system.
“We are not worried about the current system we have now and cannot fathom why a new system is being deployed. We have written to the Commissioner General of the Ghana Revenue Authority that we are not impressed about the new customs management system,” he said.
The President of the GIFF said his outfit was of the view that a new customs management system that was being deployed should be of a superior quality, but from the look of the things the new system was not better than the existing one.
“UNIPASS system is all a mess because even when we tried the URL to register for a training workshop being organised to educate us on the new system and it was not working, not to talk of other challenges we have had with their so called superior system,” he said.
He said: “If we do not do this right, there is going to be pure recipe for chaos, there will be a serious disruption. The government must withdraw the letter immediately, UNIPASS is not ready.”
He quizzed “What is broken that you would want to fix, there is absolutely no problem with the current system. You have over GH₵10,000 to 15,000 declarants hitting your system at the same time, so there has to be serious stress test to make sure that they can withstand all that pressure. So far we have not seen any report to say that all these stress tests have been done.”
Mr Akrong said the much advertised piloting planned for the Tarkoradi Port on February failed adding that “this shows that there is a problem with the new system”.
“No training or piloting has been done. We were told some piloting was done in Aflao but I can tell you that it did not happen and Takoradi the same thing,” Mr Akrong stated.
The paper has learnt that the trade ministry, in signing the controversial 10-year sole-sourced contract committed to hand over the GCNet and single window operations to UNIPASS.
This was contained in the Trade Facilitation Agreement made on March 29, 2018, between Government of Ghana, acting through Ministry of Trade and Industry and Ghana Link Services Limited.
This means that without GCNet and West Blue, UNIPASS cannot operate or function.
BY DAVID ADADEVOH