10 January 2019

Ghana: Port Players Raise Concern About New Nat'l Single Window Software

Some players in Ghana's port industry have called for investigations into what is suspected to be the plagiarising of the National Single Window software used by the Government of Ghana (GoG) at the country's ports and selling it back to GoG at an estimated US$180 million through a 10-year sole sourced contract.

The players which included a section of freight forwarders and customs officers who were privy to demonstrations of the new superior system said the supposed Uni-Pass system is the same as the existing Ghana Single Window system.

They said its features, designs, and its operations resemble the current system, with one of its modules labelled UNI-PAARS (PAARS being the existing system used by Customs).

The players who spoke to the Times on condition of anonymity said the probe was necessary after it emerged that the supposed newly built and superior software with which Ghana Link Network Service Limited with its overseas partners, CUPIA Koria Customs Service (UNIPASS) was to operate, is no different from the existing systems already being operated by government.

Checks on the website of the supposedly newly-built and superior system being brought by UNIPASS, displays "Ghana's Trade Hub", which is the existing facility of the government of Ghana.

The website also has posters and artworks of the "achievement of paperless ports so far... " which was designed by the Office of the Vice President in early 2018 based on the works of the existing operators.

Additionally, a click on social media links such as Facebook and Twitter of Uni-Pass, rather opens the social media pages of the existing vendors with all the contact details and information on the existing vendors.

Speaking in an interview with the Times yesterday the President of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIIF), Mr Kwabena Ofosu-Appiah said he was present at the meeting where the new software was demonstrated adding that " what was shown to us as the new software is the same as the old one."

He said it was up to the original developers of the single window software to decide whether to take up the matter or not.

Uni-Pass Deal Suspended

Meanwhile the Economic Management Team (EMT) on December 18, 2018, directed the Ministry of Trade and Industry to suspend the single window system takeover by CUPIA of Korea Customs Service (UNIPASS) and Ghana Link Network Service Limited.

The directive, contained in a Decision Note of the Economic Management Team headed by Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, and dated December 20, 2018, said the decision to suspend the implementation of the Uni-Pass system and allow for the use of the existing National Single Window is to allow time for Cabinet to scrutinise the 10-year sole-sourced Uni-Pass deal.

"... The planned introduction of Uni-Pass on January 1, 2019 be suspended, with a transition period to at least August 2019 to avoid potential disruptions to the port clearing system," the Decision Note signed by Prof. Joe Amoako-Tuffour, Secretary/Member of the EMT said.

The EMT tasked CUPIA of Korea and Ghana Link Network Service to provide a demonstration that they had developed a "Full end to end Customs Technology Solutions Systems, successfully tested, with independent Stress Report and provide a comprehensive implementation plan to the EMT by the end of January 2019'.

Contract Signed

On March 29, 2018, the Ministry of Trade and Industry signed a 10-year sole sourced contract with Ghana Link Network Service Limited and its overseas partners, CUPIA Koria Customs Service, to take over the Ghana National Single Window with what was said to be a newly-built customised superior system.


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