The controversial UNIPASS deal has come to the forefront of contemporary issues in Ghana. Regarding media reports, the UNIPASS deal which has come to the limelight is arguably considered an innovative new port clearing system that processes payments through an enhanced single window for the facilitation of trade. Such a new single window for trade facilitation which forms a core basis of the UNIPASS deal is widely expected to address some crucial issues at the ports which are currently run by the Ghana Community Network Services (GCNet) and West Blue Consulting which has been in operations at the Ghana port for nearly 17years.
With UNIPASS being such an innovative single-window port system tool, its piloting initially rolled out at Takoradi port then further rolled out at the Tema port was suspended due to numerous complaints from freight forwarders. Against this backdrop, we the maritime activist at the Centre for International Maritime Affairs, Ghana (CIMAG) after months of numerous research into a single-window port system ask the following questions: Is the UNIPASS deal a mere parochial politically induced hoax aiming to serve the interest of some top Government officials? Is the US$93 million abrogation term in the UNIPASS deal a sustainable and advantageous investment worth taking? If such an investment is even considered worth taking, why has the top Government officials widely speculated by the media to have pushed the UNIPASS deal through failing to educate stakeholders at the Ghana ports the importance of rolling-out such a deal?
Most importantly, although the single window system could solve some technical challenges in the port system for easy facilitation of trade, why has UNIPASS failed immensely in piloting such a system? As we are aware that any artificially-induced algorithm system set-up is likely to face some challenges, Was UNIPASS able to learn from their failed piloting system and come up with a better system? Has the ongoing record of Ghana Link in Sierra Leone served as an enhanced notice if UNIPASS is to go ahead with their system at the Ghana ports?
Referring to all these questions raised by CIMAG, we ask: what unexpected benefit has the Ghana Link/UNIPASS deal hid away from the masses that we are all failing to see? Although the single window system is commendable, there should be intense feasibility studies to make sure that such a system can be leveraged with zero or considerably minimal challenges. Furthermore, if Ghana Link/UNIPASS is confident that such a single-window system is going to work, Ghana Link/UNIPASS together with the top Government officials as parties to the contract signing should delete the clause of agreeing to pay US$93 million termination clause from a contract worth US$40 million.
ALBERT DERRICK FIATUI is the Executive Director at the Centre for International Maritime Affairs (CIMAG). He holds a bachelor degree in Integrated Development Studies from the University of Development Studies. He holds an LLB (Law) from the Mountcrest University College and a postgraduate certificate in Health Safety & Environment. He holds a certificate of proficiency in customs procedures & port operations. Currently, Albert is a Director in charge of Business Development at the Logical Maritime Services Limited, a privately held global logistics company. With extensive research, policy and advocacy backgrounds’, Albert serves on numerous boards within the maritime industry. E-mail: [email protected].
BISMARK AMEYAW (Ph.D.) is the director of research and advocacy at the Centre for International Maritime Affairs (CIMAG). He is a director of international relations and research development at the African Center for Strategic Business and Entrepreneurship Development (ACSBED). He specializes in modeling and forecasting the dynamic links in energy, economics, and the environment. He also takes a keen interest in the Ghana maritime industry and entrepreneurship development. He writes, teaches and consults on energy and maritime-related issues. He serves as an editorial board member and a reviewer for several Zone A academic journals. E-mail: [email protected]; [email protected].