The Ghana Union of Traders Association, GUTA, is asking government to engage shipping lines to waive charges on goods that may have passed their clearing dates due to unresolved technical issues with the UNIPASS system at the ports.
Some freight forwarders at the Tema Port have in the past week complained about their inability to clear their goods, and how this could lead to the payment of demurrage to shipping lines after due dates for clearing elapse.
The challenges follow the full takeover of clearing activities by UNIPASS from West Blue Consulting and GCNET.
The President of GUTA, Joseph Obeng, in an interview with Citi Business News said they expect government to offer this relief to lessen the burden on freight forwarders.
“If it is not through our fault that the challenges have come about, we need to be compensated because we know that pilot programs have gone on elsewhere. So we were expecting a very smooth transition and we know that we have allowed sometime,” he remarked.
He added, “But if this thing persists and it carries on into the weekend, it means that cost is going to build up which is through no fault of the importer. And that is why we are saying that the government should find a way to pay us the additional cost we are incurring in demurrages.”
The new UNIPASS system has been in operation since Monday [June 1, 2020].
The Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF) has expressed its misgivings about the system for the past one week.
Their agitations have compelled officials of the Ghana Link to introduce a technical team to address the concerns of freight Forwarders.
On the first day of implementation, the Commissioner of Customs, Col. Kwadwo Damoah (rtd) also assured the freight forwarders that they are working to resolve all concerns as soon as possible.
Opposition to UNIPASS
Prior to its take-off, the Minority in Parliament kicked against the roll-out of new system.
According to them, there is no need to do away with GCNet and Westblue at the ports, when they have demonstrated superior ability over the years.
Policy think-tank, IMANI Africa, earlier this year also petitioned government to temporarily suspend the operations of UNI-PASS and allow GCNET and West Blue to operate for the remainder of the year
According to them, this is to rake in revenue in excess of GHS10 billion for the country, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on trade activities.
Also, the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders questioned the effectiveness of system hours to the official outdooring of the system at the country’s ports.