Freight forwarders at the Tema port have expressed their disappointment with government’s implementation of the new Customs clearing system, UNIPASS, which is currently being rolled out at each of the nation’s 49 points of entry.
According to them, the new system is being implemented prematurely and are therefore calling on government to suspend its implementation until further consultations with stakeholders have been held.
A letter sighted by the B&FT from the office of the Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Marfo, dated February 26, 2020 and directed to the Freight Forwarders Association indicated that from March 1, 2020, importers will be required to clear their imports through the new Customs management system at all points of entry.
The directive enjoins all freight forwarders and their representatives to take steps to procure their access codes, as it seeks their cooperation to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Ghana’s Customs Management regime.
President of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF), Edward Akrong, stated that the current system is still effective, and as such government should exercise restraint in the implementation of UNIPASS.
“As I speak to you, no training has been done in Elubo. This morning, Aflao and Elubo are still using the Ghana Integrated Customs Clearance System, a gate which is run by GCNet and the PAARS, also run by West Blue. The current system is still in place because there is no other system to go to.”
He indicated that he had received information from some members of his outfit that officials from UNIPASS were only just this morning seeking their contact details for a training session tomorrow – a situation he described as worrying.
GIFF’s president indicated that the current system is doing well, and as such it should not be replaced. “We have an existing system which we think is perfect; so if you think you are going to give me something that is superior, so be it. But prove to me that this is superior and please let us do this transition very well; if not, we are just asking for trouble.”
Felix Enin, a clearing agent said: “We all know that the GCNet contract will expire in 2023, and West Blue September this year; why the rush to bring in a new system? To be honest, we have worked with these two systems at the port without any challenges; why do you forcefully bring in UNIPASS?”