Single Window At Ports: Kofi Buah Uninformed On UNIPASS Deal

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Emmanuel Amarh Kofi Buah

As the discourses on single window operations at the country’s ports go on, the attempt by the Minority in Parliament to shred the UNIPASS deal and fault the unique system that will rake in revenue for the government has fallen flat.

The minority person, Mr. Emmanuel Amarh Kofi Buah, who spoke against the new arrangement that offers UNIPASS the opportunity to be the handler of the single window system in Ghana, was simply uniformed and did not know what he spoke about.

As a matter of fact, the former Minister of Energy who spoke on the matter was not on top of his brief and his submissions were far from the truth.

The UNIPASS deal started in 2015 under the erstwhile National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration and had series of studies to confirm the viability or otherwise of the project.

In fact, the decision of the current administration to grant the 10-year deal to the promoters of UNIPASS was based on documentations that the government gleaned from its predecessors.

UNIPASS is promoted by Ghana Link Network Services and Korea Customs Services Division (CUPIA).

One thing that was clear in Mr. Kofi Buah’s submissions was that he was using what have been thrown into the media by persons who were not comfortable with the UNIPASS deal as his references.

Government in its own wisdom formed a Cabinet Sub-Committee chaired by the Senior Minister, Mr. Yaw Osafo-Maafo, to look into single window operations in the country and how best to sanitize the system.

Based on the findings of the committee, government decided to opt for UNIPASS because of the superiority of its systems as compared to what were in existence.

Mr. Buah, who also serves as the Member of Parliament for Ellembelle in the Western Region, could have saved himself from murmurings that came with his submissions, if he had checked to know that the UNIPASS deal had gone through proper scrutiny before government decided to go for it to rake in revenue for the nation through the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).

For instance, Mr. Kofi Buah’s claim that Ghana Link Network Services had done some single window operation in Sierra Leone was totally false.

Rather, Africa Link Network Services, which is a Destination Inspection Company (DIC) belonging to Mr. Nick Danso Adjei, was offered a single window contract in Sierra Leone, but never implemented the project, which was later cancelled for political reasons.

About UNIPASS In Ghana 

The feasibility studies on the capabilities of UNIPASS started in 2015, when Ghana and its Korean partners sold their unique idea to the government at the time.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry, under the watch of Mr. Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen, signed a 10-year contract with the company.

The Economic Management Team (EMT), headed by Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, in the past, has had cause to put the UNIPASS takeover of single window operations on hold.

The whole move was to enable the establishment to have a proper understanding of the UNIPASS system and how it was going to help Ghana.

The promoters also used that decision by the EMT to tidy all weak ends and prepare very well for the takeover.

So far, thousands of Customs officials of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) have been trained on the new system.

Other stakeholders including banks and freight forwarders have also been trained on the operations of the UNIPASS system and how it will fast-track activities at the port.

Call On Freight Forwarders To Embrace UNIPASS System

The president of the Chamber of Freight Forwarders and Traders, Dennis Amfo Sefa, says he expects freight forwarders to warm up to the idea of the UNIPASS single window system at the country’s ports.

Just like how the Ghana Community Network System (GcNet) took over the country’s ports in 2002, Mr. Sefa said the UNIPASS system should be allowed time to develop.

It took about two years for GcNet and West Blue Consulting, the two companies that were initially operating the single window system, to integrate and work cohesively.

“We were all over the place. We did not understand why the government wanted to change the system that we had [at the time to GcNet] because it was perfect and it was working. We were also complaining that we had not been trained,” he recalled on Citi TV’s The Point of View.

“So it takes time. There is no way freight forwarders will embrace change without friction.”

GcNet eventually trained over 100 companies at the time it rolled out its system.

.Mr. Safo noted that the old systems also faced similar challenges.

“We resisted GcNet. We resisted West Blue, but today we are saying GcNet and West Blue are okay. So with time, we will get there. You will see that in two, three or four years time, we will come back here and say that UNIPASS is the best.”

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