Introduction of the paperless system at the country’s ports of entry has generated a lot of joy and relief for importers and exporters alike, since it is deemed to have eased the cost and duration of conducting business at the ports.
However, trouble appears to be brewing as a turf-war is ensuing and threatens to erode the gains made so far since introduction of the paperless system that Vice-President Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia put in so much effort to realise.
The state stands to lose millions of dollars if the impasse at the port over the single window contract is not resolved in a mature manner, since it has come to light that the existing vendors would be compelled to unplug their system to allow for the new system.
A 10-year contract is being awarded to Ghana Link Network Services, which appears to be sole-sourced without any stakeholder engagement or consultation – and this is the reason for some angst between the major players. Since the alarm bell is being sounded, it bodes well for an explanation of sorts to settle the minds of the agitated so that the ports’ smooth operations are not unduly disrupted.
The issue is murky, and the earlier we resolve it the better for sea freight business that brings a lot of revenue for the state. Another area of much concern is the training of Customs officials of the GRA, since this is an entirely new system. They would have to be re-trained to understand operations of the new system, and the errors likely to be encountered by such a transition.
The president and his vice purportedly had discussions with a delegation of Customs World Dubai at the seat of government to deploy its world-class system at our ports. However, the Trade Ministry has opted for entering into an agreement with another company whose pedigree is nothing close to Customs World Dubai’s – hence the anxiety.
The matter must be cleared – and cleared in such a way that we do not compromise the efforts made to reduce the cost and time of conducting business at the country’s ports. A lot of effort has gone into reducing the bottlenecks and unnecessary bureaucracy at the ports. Let’s not derail the gains made so far.