Ghanaian importers and clearing agents have expressed displeasure at government’s decision to hand over single window port operations to Ghana Link and its overseas partner, CUPIA Korea.
According to them this act by government will not only create chaos at the port but erode all the gains chalked by the introduction of the paperless port.
The Senior Minister, Osafo Marfo in a letter dated 26th February 2020, directed Freight Fowarders, Clearing Agents and other stakeholders in the country, to use the UNIPASS system to clear their goods from Sunday March 1, 2020.
However, the stakeholders have warned that this decision will cause serious problems for government and all stakeholders, explaining that the UNIPASS system is untested and therefore cannot run single window at the ports.
They have therefore asked government to withdraw the letter with immediate effect, stating “UNIPASS is not ready”.
President of the Ghana Institute of Freight forwarders (GIFF), Edmund Akrong in a separate interview with journalists said, “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 quizzed “What is broken that they (government) 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. But so far, we have not seen any report to say that all these stress tests have been done.”
Importers who were at Takoradi port on February 21, 2020 for the piloting of the UNIPASS system were left disappointed.
This is because Ghana Link and its overseas partner CUPIA Korea could not demonstrate and successfully pilot the acclaimed newly built superior system, Mr. Akrong added.
“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 revealed that many of the agents complained that the system Ghana Link tried demonstrating at Takoradi was error ridden and therefore, could not 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 further indicated.
No Superior System
According to Mr. Akrong, it has emerged that Ghana Link and its foreign partner, CUPIA of Korea Customs Service claim of they having a new superior single window system is a mirage.
He said it rather requires the Ghana Community Network Service Limited (GCNet) and West Blue Consulting to handover their systems to them before they can start operations.
It is understood that the Trade Ministry, in signing the 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 on March 29, 2018, between Government of Ghana, acting through Ministry of Trade and Industry and Ghana Link Services Limited.