Some importers and clearing agents, last Thursday, wore red head bands and picketed at the offices of the Customs Division of Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) in Takoradi, to demand the withdrawal of the UNIPASS trade facilitation system which they say has been problematic since its introduction, on April 1.
According to the agitated picketers, the UNIPASS system should be withdrawn from the Takoradi ports just as it was withdrawn from the Team Ports after it was introduced there on April 29 but could not function.
“We the importers and the clearing agents are not happy. It is taking us longer to clear, it is taking us more time and more cost
“If I have a machine that I am working with and it takes my ten minutes to do a job. And you bring me a new and a better machine in the C21st and this machine is going to take me three hours to work with, what are we talking about? Are you taking me back for 25 years or you are taking me forward into the future? We should be prepared for the future. And the government has to look at this”, Mr. Henderson McCarthy, one of the aggrieved freight forwarders in Takoradi told the media.
Several of his colleagues expressed same sentiments in different words.
Government has however insisted the UNIPAS system is the best thing that has happened to the Ghana National Single Window (GNSW) and trade facilitation at the country’s ports.
According to government, the UNIPASS system is a superior one as compared to the systems of the current trade facilitation vendors, GCNet and West Blue and therefore there the system has come to stay for good and there is no way it would be withdrawn.
Prior to the UNIPASS roll out at the Takoradi Ports on April 1 and then at the Tema Ports on April 28, there have been several stakeholder agitations against the system and warnings that it would lead to a disruption on trade facilitation.
When it was eventually rolled out in Tema, it had to be withdrawn after two days because imports could simply not be cleared using the system.
West Blue and GCNet were eventually recalled to resume operations while the UNIPASS system is being fixed.
It is unclear when both GCNet and West Blue would be asked to step aside once again for UNIPASS to take over at the Tema Ports.