Despite the new culture of ‘forced-silence’ at the ports, the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF) has gathered the courage to write to the office of Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo-Maafo, pleading with him to intervene in the challenges of avoidable delays in imports clearance with the additional killer fees it attracts for importers, although Ghana Link/UNIPASS-ICUMS is the reason for the avoidable delays.
The letter, dated August Monday August 24, 2020 and signed by GIFF President, Edward Tetteh-Owusu Akrong, said although GIFF members, importers and the trading community have been suffering in silence since the deployment of Ghana Link/ICUMS-UNIPASS, their silence has been because they do not want to further raise the temperature.
He said they had already voiced out all their expert opinions and suggestions which had been thrown into the dustbin but they still went the extra mile to tolerate the incompetence of the new system hoping better days are near.
“We await a quick response respectfully, as we hold down the angst of those adversely affected with hope”, the letter said.
It argued that it is unacceptable that importers who are rather doing the right things to avoid delays in ports clearance should be the ones suffering and being asked to pay all manner of killer fees on the delayed clearance that is caused by the controversial Ghana Link/UNIPASS-ICUMS disaster.
The letter pleaded with Mr. Osafo-Marfo to use his office to either extend the allowable grace period in clearing on imports, or to reduce all other fees that are slapped on the importers because of the delays caused by Ghana Link/UNIPASS-ICUMS.
“The above fees are chargeable only after one has breached an alloeable grace period. Our appeal is therefore based on the fact that the new normal of ICUMS and the drag it has introduced that makes it the rule now for clearance to go way beyond allowable grace periods”, the letter stated.
It said the GIFF, after extensive engagement with the importing and trading community have resolved to appeal to government through the office of the Senior Minister to cause to be suspended State Warehouse Rent charges and Interest Charges.
GIFF also suggested to the Senior Minister to as a matter of urgency, form a committee under the remits of the Ghana Shippers Authority to review downward all other fees or review upwards the allowable grace period, taking into account all other stakeholder interests.
The controversial ICUMS deal, initially referred to as the UNIPASS deal, generated a lot of unsettled dust when the Ministry of Trade signed a single sourced 10 year contract with Nick Danso’s Ghana Link to take over Ghana’s paperless ports and single window trade facilitation operations.
The ports have not known peace since this controversial contract came into force but government has consistently turned deaf ears to all stakeholder concerns that the company was simply not ready to take off.