After two months of implementing the UNIPASS shipping clearance system at the Takoradi Harbour, members of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF), say the outstanding problems with clearance of goods are still not fully resolved.
An Executive Member of the Takoradi District of GIFF, Ato Bentsil, told Citi News that the irregular automatic allocation of customs officers to a clearing agent for processing and difficulties in registering vehicles after clearance at the DVLA causes a lot of delays due to lack of synchronization of the system.
Ato Bentsil added that these challenges should have been solved even before Tema was brought on board to implement the UNIPASS system.
“They still have challenges. Whatever reasons they told you earlier is not true. There are delays in trying to complete one document. So, it’s a problem. When you enter your TIN through your ICUMS and you have your necessary documentation, you will have to be waiting for the necessary methods for payments,” he said.
“…This is totally wrong. Everything was electronic. Now the system is so robust in such a way that you will not be able to be relieved automatically as it used to be. Also, sometimes you have to be relieved manually. For the manual system, if it’s a vehicle you must wait till whatever time for it to be perfected before you will be able to license your vehicle,” he lamented.
He noted that, in previous times, immediately you finish at the car pack you can go to the licensing department and license your car straight away because the system was linked to the particular system at the DVLA.
“So, you don’t have a problem there but now you have to wait. You can just imagine going to the place day in and day out finding out what they can do to get it done. All they could have done is to just wait for three months and I am sure they could have had a solution to all these things,” he added.
The UNIPASS/ICUMS system
The UNIPASS/ICUMS platform is a new port clearing system that processes documents and payments through one window: a departure from the previous system where valuation and classification and risk management and payment were handled by different entities.
It is replacing the systems operated by West Blue Consulting and the Ghana Community Service Network Limited (GCNet).
The system which will see all new transactions in respect of import and export processed only through the Ghana Revenue Authority’s new Integrated Customs Management Systems, takes full effect from today, Monday, June 1, 2020.
CUPIA Korea, which is assisting the Customs Division to implement the UNIPASS system, has described it as an enhanced single window system for trade facilitation.
Prior to the piloting of the new system and full implementation, many stakeholders within the logistics chain were dissatisfied with the service.
Policy think-tank, IMANI Africa, last month, petitioned government to temporarily suspend the operations of UNI-PASS and allow GCNET and West Blue to operate for the remainder of the year to rake in revenue in excess of GHS10 billion for the country, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on trade activities.
Also, the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders questioned the efficacy of system hours to the official outdooring of the system at the country’s ports.
The Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders has also predicted revenue losses if the concerns raised by stakeholders on the inefficiencies of the UNIPASS system are not addressed.