Tension is brewing at the Takoradi ports as frustrated Frieghtforwarders are mulling over the failure of the UNIPASS system to clear goods electronically.
The supposed superior electronic customs system as vehemently defended by senior Government officials is unable to deliver the end to end package as envisaged as Frieghtforwarders have been asked to go back to manual means of clearing goods.
Sources among the Frieghtforwarders at the Takoradi say, unlike the GCNet / WB systems where documents are electronically available for direct access anytime any day in the end to end chain, that is not so with the new Integrated Customs Management Systems (ICUMS).
Agents are asked to print out previously scanned documents from the GCNet / WB system (to serve as a guide for valuation which ICUMS is unable to do) and manually attached to current documents for submission.
The situation is further compounded by the fact that UCR and IDF details are captured from GCNet / West Blue system to use in the ICUMS. Besides, unlike in the GCNet / West Blue Systems where there is access to Container Movement Report (CMR) and Delivery Order (DO) in electronic format, the news ICUMS does not demonstrate such functionality raising questions about the preparedness and supposed superiority and robustness of the ICUMS. This means that other agencies that rely on electronic data for reporting purposes are deficient and it also defeats greatly the vice president’s efforts to achieve a complete paperless port.
The development, which is largely the same at the border posts including Aflao, Elubo and Gonokrom, for instance, is worrying as users are deprived of the promised end to end access and experience as touted with dire consequences for revenue mobilisation since there will be revenue delays in this Codi 19 era where needs every pesewa is needed to salvage the dangerous public health crisis. It also means that since the port is back to manual, there is a high risk of undervaluation, document fiddling, theft of goods and potential revenue leakages.
Reports indicate that manifest Submission in the ICUMS is also a huge challenge as the process is heavily hampered with agents forced to process entries without manifest to be matched later when shipping lines are able to create it.
So effectively, Ghana is back to the manual way of clearing goods at the ports. This means that in this lockdown where agents are to work from home, they must necessarily move to site in-person to ensure that their consignments are cleared.
In the words of some agents who pleaded anonymity, ‘it is not looking good at all as the Customs AC for Takoradi and Nick Danso owner of Ghana Link have been pleading with us to be patient and give them at least a week to try and resolve the bottlenecks.’