Ghana: Freight Forwarders Decry Delays in Clearing Goods At Takoradi Port

Some freight forwarders at the Takoradi Port have expressed dissatisfaction about the failure of the UNIPASS system to clear goods electronically and seamlessly at the port.

They alleged that since April 1, when Ghana Link Services started to implement the UNIPASS/Integrated Customs Management Systems (ICUMS), valuation was being done manually resulting in delays in clearing of goods.

Sources among the freight forwarders at the Takoradi Port said unlike the GCNet / West Blue systems where documents were electronically available for direct access anytime and any day in the end to end chain that was not the case with the new UNIPASS/ICUMS systems.

They said while importers were not able to access the Tax Identification Numbers of their companies and other registration details in the new system, the system handlers themselves were having challenges with manifest declarations, handling and processing.

Some importers who spoke with the paper in strict anonymity said they have been asked to print out previously scanned documents from the GCNet / West Blue system (to serve as a guide for valuation which ICUMS was unable to do) and manually attached to current documents for submission.

They said the situation was further compounded by the fact that UCR and IDF details were captured from GCNet / West Blue system to use in the ICUMS, adding that unlike in the GCNet / West Blue Systems where there is access to Container Movement Report (CMR) and Delivery Order (DO) was electronic format, the new UNIPASS/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 this totally defeats the Vice President's efforts to achieve a complete paperless port. This also 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," they said.

According to them, only two vessels have so far docked at the Takoradi ports since the closure of the country's borders and the UNIPASS/ICUM system had not been able to release even 20 per cent of about 300 containers on the first vessel which docked at the port last two weeks.

However, a source within the management of the Takoradi Port said the clearing process was going on smoothly and that management would provide an update during the week.

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