On a tour to engage frustrated freight forwarders at the Tema ports, the former Trade Minister, Dr. Ekow Spio-Garbrah, along with some leaders of the opposition party, the National Democratic Congress and Sammy Gyamfi were involved in a scuffle with the port’s security officers.
Security officers at the port exerted their power when the NDC officers attempted to address the media at the revenue office of the port.
The national communications director of the NDC, Sammy Gyamfi and his entourage were at the Customs office to ascertain challenges freight forwarders go through at the port following the implementation of the UNIPASS platform.
Mr. Sammy Gyamfi in an interaction with the media after the incident, said they were at the Tema Port to assess the impact of the newly introduced Integrated Customs Management System, ICUMS.
He said, “As a political party, we have heard and taken notice of agitations of various stakeholder groups here about the implementation challenges associated with the newly introduced UNIPASS ICUMS system. So we came here to engage with the stakeholders to better understand what the challenges are"
“We came here to see for ourselves whether the UNIPASS is working smoothly or whether it is not working at all as we’ve been made to understand by the various stakeholder groups here and I am sure you can see the chaotic situation here for yourselves”.
Freight forwarders and importers have bemoaned the blighted process in clearing their goods. Hitherto, they had swift transactions at the port but are currently faced with a rather cumbersome ordeal as goods clearance takes some weeks due to the new UNIPASS system.
They have lamented the ineffectiveness of the system and also over the strenuous situation they currently face.
Dr. Spio-Garbrah who addressed freight forwarders said that Ghana has been selected to host the African Continental Free Trade Area, adding, it meant Ghana’s port and import system should be one of the most efficient on the continent.
He said “so, anything that deprives us of revenue, anything that makes clearing of goods inefficient and hazardous, anything that will not make Ghana number one import/export destination in Africa is something that we should all be concerned about”.
The Integrated Customs Management Systems (ICUMS) was set up by UNIPASS at the Tema Port following a successful simulation in May this year when the new system management was taken over from GCNET and West Blue.
The UNIPASS/ICUMS platform is a new port clearing system that processes documents and payments through one window: a withdrawal from the previous system where valuation and classification and risk management and payment were handled by different entities.
Meanwhile, there is currently an ongoing meeting between the NDC entourage and the various freight forwarders associations at the Mariners club at the Tema Port.