The Deputy General Manager of Ghana Community Network Services (GCNet), which runs part of the import and clearing systems at the country’s ports, Carl Sackey, is questioning government’s rationale in the deployment of the Unipass single window system.
Mr. Sackey, speaking on Citi TV’s current affairs programme The Point of View, argued that whatever problem that government intends to solve with the Unipass system was government’s own creation rather than the ineffectiveness of the current players, GCNet, Customs World/West Blue or the Cargo Note Tracking system.
“Firstly, the government says they want an end to end system, but we have a fragmented system because it is the government’s own policy direction. So here, it gives us a clear case of policy incoherence which is not a creation of GCNet,” he added.
The UNI-PASS International Agency (CUPIA) of Korea Customs Services and its local partner, Ghana Link Network Services Limited, have been contracted to implement a National Single Window in collaboration with Customs for trade facilitation.
But Mr. Sackey maintains that UNIPASS’ functionalities are not any different from what its systems is built to do, although the government has limited the functionality usage of the GCNet system.
“GCNet’s contract says it supposed to have the end to end which we actually have, but the government is not using it. And then people ask the question, what is the difference between what you are bringing in and what is on the ground. Technically, there is no difference,” he added.
The existing GcNet platform has the Ghana Integrated Cargo Clearance System (GICCS) and the Ghana Customs Management System (GCMS) on it. The GcNet contract ends in 2023, while the West Blue contract expires this year.
Meanwhile, Dennis Amfo-Sefa, President of Chamber of Freight Forwarders, says the UNIPASS national single window system will take off eventually despite the initial setbacks encountered by some of his members.
According to him, similar systems introduced in the past saw the same initial challenges where freight forwarders resisted arguing that the system must not be changed if it is not broken.
He added that it took about two years for GcNet and West Blue Consulting, the two companies that were initially operating the single window system, to integrate and work cohesively.
“We were all over the place. We did not understand why the government wanted to change the system that we had [at the time to GcNET] because it was perfect and it was working. We were also complaining that we had not been trained,” he recalled in Citi TV‘s The Point of View on Monday, March 9, 2020.
“So, it takes time. There is no way freight forwarders will embrace change without friction.”
GcNET eventually trained over 100 companies at the time as it rolled out its system.
The former President of the Ghana Insititute of Freight Forwarders, Kwabena Ofosu Appiah, who also appeared on The Point of View charged that initial problems faced in the roll-out of the national single window is far from encouraging.
The rollout of the UNIPASS single window system at the country’s ports could not come off as expected at Elubo in the Western Region because freight forwarders were at the last minute asked to submit their names for training on the new system.
“If the road map even leading to training [of freight fowarders] is botched, how would you expected the system to even deliver?”
Mr. Appiah also feels there is a lack of clarity from the government.
“They really do not know what is coming because it looks like the deliverables are being thrown at us in piecemeal. There is no coherence,” he insisted.