It has been established with evidence that the newly introduced Ghana Link/UNIPASS ICUMS platform at the Takoradi Ports has reversed the gains of the electronic paperless ports clearance system and resorted to manual clearance.
The return to manual clearance makes a ridicule of suggestions that the new system is a superior one better than the systems on the existing vendors, West Blue and GCNet.
Agents and freight forwarders have complained about their frustrations in working with the newly introduced Ghana Link/UNIPASS ICUMS platform and accordingly called for its suspension until the operators are set and ready to go live.
In the midst of the unsolved challenges, there is a letter from the office of Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo-Marfo, directing that the Ghana Link/UNIPASS ICUMS platform should be extended beyond the Takoradi ports to the Kotoka International Airport and other ports on entry.
Meanwhile the Ghana Link/UNIPASS ICUMS platform has not been able to completely see to the clearing of containers from just a single vessel that arrived at the Takoradi Ports since the company started operations there.
Under the Ghana Link/UNIPASS ICUMS operation, frustrated agents have been ordered to print out previously scanned documents from the GCNet and West Blue systems to be used as a guide for valuation and manually attach current documents for submission before clearance may be possible.
The delay of the Ghana Link/UNIPASS ICUMS system means that all perishable cargo would go bad before they get cleared, there would be additional port rent charges for importers and shipping line demurrage charges
Not only has the delay brought some frustrations and additional cost to agents and freight forwarders but it has also disrupted the hitherto smooth trade facilitation processes at Ghana’s ports which made the country an envy of the sub region.
Government has not known peace since alarm blew that Alan Kyeremanten’s Ministry of Trade had signed a 10-year sole sourced contact with Ghana Link for the company to take over the Ghana National Single Window operations.
Apart from the curious termination clauses contained in the contract, questions have been asked as to why any government would replace the existing systems, which is less costly but highly productive in delivering its mandate with a more expensive and has not been tried and tested
It has come to light that the combined fees paid to GCNET and West Blue for their services is 0.54% of FOB. With this Ghana Link/UNIPASS deal, government of Ghana has decided, for whatever reason, to pay 0.75% of FOB.
This was after granting Ghana Link duty- and tax-free importation of their inputs (which GCNET and West Blue do not enjoy).
Another strange and worrying issue with the Ghana Link contract is why the government of Ghana, under Nana Akufo-Addo, has committed that if it had to unilaterally abrogate or it materially breaches the contract with Ghana Link/UNIPASS, Ghana will pay graduated fees of US$93 million to US$12 million in the first to the tenth year, to the company.