Bawumia’s paperless ports under threat!…As UNIPASS plans takeover of Customs World, GCNet

Mahamudu Bawumia


The recently awarded 10-year third single window contract to Ghana Link Network Services Limited is breeding confusion at the country’s ports, as operators say there was no stakeholder consultation in the selection of a third company to provide paperless services at the port.

The paperless port – a project that integrates the systems of service providers at the country’s ports to facilitate clearing of goods without voluminous paper work and reduced transactional time – is already being operated by Customs World Dubai (West Blue Consulting) and the Ghana Community Network Services Limited (GCNet).

The desire of Ghana Link Network Services to take over the single window operations from Customs World Dubai and GCNet is breeding hostility at the ports and does not serve the interest of clients.

The situation threatens the Vice President’s paperless agenda, which seeks to integrate all systems at the port for efficient trade.

The paperless agenda, which so far has helped improve revenue generation, is going on well. Systems are now more integrated, easing business transaction at the port and gradually increasing government’s revenue.

However, the gains made will be eroded if government fails to address the current turf-war that is happening at the country’s ports.

Operators at the ports say there was not a stakeholder engagement or consultation prior to awarding the sole-sourced third single window contract to Ghana Link.

The sole sourced contract, which was signed on March 29, 2018, is to provide a trade facilitation and Customs Management System (UNIPASS) – which the two existing vendors, Dubai Customs (West Blue Consulting) and GCNet, are already providing at the ports.

Potential revenue loss

Government stands to lose millions of dollars at the port if it allows UNIPASS to take over the single window operations. This is because the existing vendors would have to unplug their systems, which took years to perfect, to allow for the new system to come in place – which will cause huge revenue leakages.

Another big challenge is the training of Customs officials on how to operate the new system; new training for stakeholders to understand how the new system works; and the errors that come with operating such a new system before it reaches its smooth operating level.

President’s meeting with Dubai Customs

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia recently held discussions with a delegation from Customs World Dubai at the flagstaff house to deploy their enviable world-class system at Ghana’s ports.

The Customs World delegation promised to replicate their world-class Dubai model in Ghana, which will in the future plug leakages at the ports and further increase government’s revenue as well as reduce transaction time at the port drastically.

Meanwhile, the UNIPASS system that Ghana Link wants to deploy with its overseas partners, CUPIA Korea Customs Service, according to sources does not match Customs World Dubai’s systems in terms of scale and efficiency.

This has raised concerns among stakeholders at the ports, with some questioning the reason behind the Trade Ministry’s decision to sign another single window contract.

They wonder why government would want to abandon business with the world-class Customs World Dubai that already has a contract with government through West Blue Consulting and are all over the world with enviable track-record, and rather opt for CUPIA Korea Customs.

Customs World, under the Ports Customs Free Zones Corporation, founded DP World and is currently present in 40 countries and 78 ports around the world: including Australia, the United States of America, United Kingdom, France, Korea, Canada, Belgium, Indonesia, Thailand, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, India and a lot more.

DP World is ranked as one of the top Container Port Service worldwide.

The company operates over 60 terminals across six continents, with container handling generating around 80% of its revenue.

In addition, the company currently has 11 new developments and major expansions underway in many countries of Africa and Europe.

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