Facing the threat of a legal suit for ‘cloning’ the Ghana national Single Window, the perpetrators have pulled down their online platforms, as the existing service providers gear-up for a court action to protect their intellectual property.
B&FT checks have revealed that the plagiarised system, which was to come into force on January 1, 2019 but was postponed by the Economic Management Team of government for lack of preparedness, threat to port revenue and other similar issues, has been pulled down following ongoing investigations.
The probe became necessary after it emerged that the supposed newly-built and superior software with which Ghana Link Network Service Limited with its overseas partners, CUPIA Koria Customs Service (UNIPASS), was to operate is no different from the existing system already being operated by government.
Checks on the website of the supposedly newly-built and superior system being brought by UNIPASS, displayed ‘Ghana’s Trade Hub’, which is the government of Ghana’s existing facility.
The website also had posters and artworks of the ‘achievement of paperless ports so far…’ which were designed by the Office of the Vice-President in early 2018 based on works of the existing operators.
Additionally, clicking on social media links such as Facebook and Twitter of Uni-Pass rather opened the social media pages of the existing vendors – with all the contact details and information on the existing vendors.
Mr. Kwabena Ofosu-Appiah, President of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIIF), told the B&FT in an earlier interview that he was present at the meeting where the new software was demonstrated, but “what was shown to us as new software is the same as the old one”.
He said it is up to the original developers of the single window software to decide whether to take up the matter or not – a right the existing operator is seeking to exercise.
Uni-Pass Deal Suspended
Meanwhile, the Economic Management Team (EMT) on December 18, 2018, directed the Ministry of Trade and Industry to suspend the single window system takeover by CUPIA of Korea Customs Service (UNIPASS) and Ghana Link Network Service Limited.
The directive, contained in a Decision Note of the Economic Management Team headed by Vice-President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, and dated December 20, 2018, said the decision to suspend implementation of the Uni-Pass system and allow for use of the existing National Single Window is to allow time for Cabinet to scrutinise the 10-year sole-sourced Uni-Pass deal.
“…The planned introduction of Uni-Pass on January 1, 2019 be suspended, with a transition period to at least August 2019 to avoid potential disruptions to the port clearing system,” the Decision Note signed by Prof. Joe Amoako-Tuffour, Secretary/Member of the EMT said.
The EMT tasked CUPIA of Korea and Ghana Link Network Service to provide a demonstration that they had developed a “Full end-to-end Customs Technology Solutions System, successfully tested with independent Stress Report, and provide a comprehensive implementation plan to the EMT by the end of January 2019”.
On March 29, 2018, the Ministry of Trade and Industry signed a 10-year sole-sourced contract with Ghana Link Network Service Limited and its overseas partners, CUPIA Koria Customs Service, to take over the Ghana National Single Window with what was said to be a newly-built customised superior system.
Per the contract terms, Ghana Link with its overseas partner CUPIA Korea Customs Service will provide the trade facilitation and Customs Management System at a 0.75 percent fee (FOB) per their 10-year sole-sourced contract with Ministry of Trade.
This means that Ghanaian importers will be paying about US$180million for the Uni-Pass system at the end of the company’s 10-year contract with Ghana, based on the current import volumes.
This figure is outrageously higher than what the existing vendors, West Blue and GCNet, are currently receiving as a fee.