Freight forwarders Call for Confidence in UNIPASS System

Freight forwarders in the country have asked the government to ensure that confidence is instilled in the implementation of the new UNIPASS system.

The Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, (GIFF) and the Association of Customs House Agents of Ghana, (ACHAG) have pointed out the need for government to adequately prepare before new vendors take over at various ports from GCNet (the old vendors).

It can be recalled last month that the government introduced the new port management system known as UNIPASS. This system is an electronic clearance system that computerizes Customs procedures and provides for the automation of the clearance process as a solution to overcome increased volumes in trade and travelers.
It encompasses five subordinate systems namely: single window system, a clearance management system, a cargo management system, an information management system, and an administrative system.

Are Ports Ready for UNIPASS?

According to the President of ACHAG, Yaw Kyei, the government must do a lot to prove the efficiency of the new system.

“I think the government needs to go back and reintroduce it in a better format than what they are doing now. There are a lot of things they need to do to let us have confidence that this new system coming up is far better than what is existing now. There is a lack of confidence in the system and that is why people are not too comfortable with it,” he said.

Speaking in an interview on Metro TV’s Eye on Port, President of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, Edward Akrong, said the new system is dysfunctional as low results are being recorded.

“As we speak, go to the stations where the senior minister ordered the rollover, what is happening there? They are still using the GCNet and PAARS by the West Blue system. So far, I have seen one declaration from Aflao,” he lamented.

He added that the government needs to be fully prepared to ensure the efficiency of the new system.

“This is all not plug and play as it looks. Just get set, ready to go! Once we plug, we don’t want to have any issues. When the frustration starts, and you cannot clear on time, and the clients are coming at you, and shipping lines are taking their demurrages because of delays…that is where the frustration starts."

Speaking on the training of users for the new system, Mr. Akrong mentioned that UNIPASS has not prepared users enough for the system.

“One thing we also stress is that the customs regimes are not just one. You don’t just do imports. You’re doing transit, exports, temporary importation, etc. If you do not go through all these processes to identify the issues therein, then we are going to have problems when we really start,” he expressed.