GCNET Can't Run Parallel With UNI-PASS; Revoke Decision To Shut Down - Freight Forwarders To Osafo-Maafo

The Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders has registered their disapproval over the directive by Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Maafo for GCNET to shut down operations.

According to an Executive Member of Freight Forwarders, Dr. Kweku Okyere Darko, it is not possible for UNI-PASS to take precedence over GCNET until the Ministry in charge of the sector addresses serious defects in the new port clearing system.

GCNET, UNI-PASS & Matters Arising

Confusion has rocked Ghana's ports as management of the Ghana Community Network Services Limited (GCNET) and West Blue Consulting Limited, Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, Chamber of Freight and Trade, Ghana Revenue Authority and other stakeholders in the trade facilitation process at the port, haggle over the introduction of the new Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS) otherwise called UNI-PASS, and its associated challenges.

The UNI-PASS is a new port clearing system that processes documents and payments through one window aimed at easing the previous system where valuation, classification, risk management and payment were handled by different entities before one could clear his or her cargo from the port.

The new system will replace the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAARS) undertaken by West Blue and the Ghana Customs Management System (GCMS), jointly operated by the Customs Division of the GRA and GCNet which has been operational for nearly 17 years.

Senior Minister, Osafo Maafo wrote a letter to GCNET to shut down activities effective 28th April, 2020 for the newly advanced single window system for trade, which is a public-private partnership between government and Ghana Link Network Services in collaboration with Customs Uni-Pass International Agency (CUPIA) of Korea, to function in the stead of GCNET.

Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Carlos Ahenkorah, also disclosed that the government will phase out GCNET by the end of May this year but in an interview with host Kwami Sefa Kayi on Peace FM's Morning Show 'Kokrokoo' on Wednesday, April 29, 2020, however, asked GCNET to currently work side by side with UNI-PASS.

Although UNI-PASS is readily used at the Takoradi port, there are reports of delays in the clearing system and this is said to have taken a negative toll on the process.

Stakeholders' Grievances

First of all, the Freight Forwarders are appealing to the Senior Minister to revoke his directive to GCNET to shut down with immediate effect.

Dr. Kweku Okyere Darko has asked the Senior Minister to allow GCNET to continue operations till all old documentation is cleared from their computing systems before UNIPASS can come into full force.

Speaking to host Kwami Sefa Kayi on Peace FM's 'Kokrokoo' Thursday morning, the Freight Forwarder futher disagreed with the notion that GCNET can run parallel with UNI-PASS till the former becomes defunct.

He stated that the termination of GCNET contract will threaten activities of users of the platform who are importers, exporters, clearing agents, logistics companies.

Dr. Okyere Darko was concerned about importers who may be caught up in the seeming fray between the government and GCNET as they encounter delays in clearing their goods at the ports while rent charges and demurrage go up so far as they exceed their laytime.

He also pointed out to the government to address the underlying fundamentals regarding GCNET before it ceases to operate because players in the trade facilitation process need to undergo training to adapt to the new system.

"We are the students. We are the ones to use the system. We will be using the syllables that you've prepared. We have to be trained and then we also have to be registered onto the system. You have to enrol us before order to even start takes effect. All these things have not been accomplished yet," he said in a worrisome tone.

He added that running UNI-PASS without addressing the real operational issues will interrupt the paperless system at the port.

"If you give an order for GCNET and West Blue should shut down their systems when these fundamentals have not be installed, you are only creating serious problems for the nation . . . We don't know how UNI-PASS is situated".

Listen to Dr. Kweku Okyere Darko in an interaction with Kwami Sefa Kayi on 'kokrokoo'