Importers and Clearing agents in Ghana are unhappy with Government’s directive to hand over single window port operations to UNIPASS and its overseas partner, CUPIA Korea.
This decision by government, they say, will create chaos at the port and also erode all the gains made since the introduction of the paperless port system in the country.
In a letter dated 26th February 2020, The Senior Minister, Mr Yaw Osafo Marfo, directed Freight Fowarders, Clearing Agents and other stakeholders in the country, to use the UNIPASS system to clear their goods, beginning from Sunday March 1, 2020.
But the stakeholders have warned that this decision will cause serious problems for government and all players at the port.
They argue that the UNIPASS system is untested and therefore cannot run single window at the ports.
Consequently, they have requested government to withdraw the letter with immediate effect.
President of the Ghana Institute of Freight forwarders (GIFF), Edmund Akrong in a separate interview with journalists said UNIPASS is not ready to man the single window system.
“The UNIPASS system is a mess because we tried the URL and it did not work, not to talk about other challenges we have had with their so-called superior system.
“If we do not do this right, it will be a pure recipe for disaster; there will be a serious disruption. The government must therefore withdraw the letter immediately because UNIPASS is not ready, he said.
He further argues that the current system has proven to have the capacity to withstand all the pressure that comes with the single window system and so they do not understand why Government wants to change a system that is not “broken”
“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. But so far, we have not seen any report to say that all these stress tests have been done”, he added.
Importers who were at Takoradi port on February 21, 2020 for the piloting of the UNIPASS system were left disappointed as Ghana Link and CUPIA Korea failed to demonstrate and successfully pilot the newly built ‘superior system’
“No training or piloting has been done. We were told some piloting was to be done in Aflao but I can tell you that it did not happen and Takoradi the same thing,” he stated.
He also disclosed that many of the agents complained that the Ghana Link system has lots of errors, and cannot be deployed at the country’s ports.
“This is the second time Ghana Link has failed to successfully pilot the UNIPASS system at the country’s port”, he pointed out.
Superior System a mirage
According to Mr. Akrong, the claim by Ghana Link and its foreign partner, CUPIA of Korea Customs Service that their system is superior to what exist previously is a mirage.
He said UNIPASS will require systems of the Ghana Community Network Service Limited (GCNet) and West Blue Consulting before they can start operations.
The Trade and Industry Ministry, in signing the 10-year sole-sourced contract, committed to handing over the GCNet and single window operations to UNIPASS.
This was contained in the Trade Facilitation Agreement on March 29, 2018, between Government of Ghana and Ghana Link Services Limited.