Government has indicated that it will engage institutions and groups that hold opposing views to the UNIPASS deal. The opposing institutions feel that the UNIPASS project at the port will affect the success of the Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
This was disclosed by Minister for Trade and Industry, Alan Kyerematen in an interview with Joy News recently.
He explained that engagement will seek to address all concerns raised by the opposing groups and end the tension between stakeholders at the ports over the new integrated port management system.
The Trade Minister adds that trade facilitation was an important part of the AfCFTA deal, hence the success of the UNIPASS deal was paramount.
Government not ready to implement the system
Meanwhile, the President of the Ghana Institute of freight forwarders (GIFF), Edward Akrong, says the new UNIPASS system has recorded only one transaction since its operationalisation by his members.
This, according to him, clearly shows lack of preparedness on the part of Government to implement the new system.
Mr Akrong further remarks that the state stand to lose revenue at the port due to the slow processes at the clearing points.
The UNIPASS deal has been met with a lot of criticism from freight forwarders, stakeholders and civil society groups in the country.
UNIPASS was initially to take over the Ghanaian port in 2019, but due to the criticism by stakeholders about the capacity of the company to effectively manage the single window system the deal was suspended to this year
This move was to buy time for UNIPASS, that is, Ghana Link and its overseas partner, CUPIA Korea, to demonstrate the superior value and integrity of their technology to all concerned stakeholders.
Following from this, the Senior Minister, Mr Yaw Osafo Marfo, in a letter dated 5 December, 2019, directed the Ghana Community Network Service Limited (GCNet) and West Blue Consulting, the managers of the single window port system to hand over to UNIPASS.
Aside from this, the Senior Minister, again, in a letter dated 26th February, directed the Freight Forwarders and Clearing Agents to use the UNIPASS system to clear their goods, beginning from March 1, this year.
But these directives seem not to have gone done well with Importers and Clearing Agents as well as civil societies. Particularly Imani Africa, is still up in arms against the new system.
They maintain that the new system is untested and therefore cannot run single window at the ports.
The President of Imani Africa has, for instance, described the deal as fraudulent, adding it will disrupt the paperless port system which was introduced some years ago to engender ease of doing business at the port.
Recently, the Importer and Clearing Agent registered their displeasure over the UNIPASS takeover at the port.