Some freight forwarders at the Tema Port have expressed their displeasure with the implementation of the Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS) which they blame for increased rent charges and demurrage.
According to them, their protest against the ICUMS (which is also known as Uni-Pass) is against the implementation of an 'absurd system' and not political.
Mr John Kweku Mensah, a council member of the Ghana Freight Forwarders Association said it was not fair that importers were being made to pay for the cost of an inefficient system which was 'fraught with delays'.
He was addressing an Open Forum at the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority on Friday.
Mr John Kweku Mensah, a council member of the Ghana Freight Forwarders Association
"We are facing a lot of problems, this is not political. This is because we need help," Mr Mensah said.
"We don't care about who is operating a system, we just want a system that works normally like the one GCNet was operating. The system must flow for us because all of us are paying huge rent and demurrage even though it is not our fault".
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Another freight forwarder, Mr Michael Johnson suggested that the former service provider, the Ghana Community Network Services (GCNet), should be allowed to operate the clearing system concurrently with ICUMS. He said this would allow them to clear their goods swiftly.
Chaos at GHAPOHA Revenue Office
The forum was preceded by a fact-finding mission by some members of the National Democratic Congress at the GHAPOHA Revenue Office.
When the NDC team which included the National Communications Officer, Sammy Gyamfi, former Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah and the Member of Parliament for Bolgatanga Central, Mr Isaac Adongo entered the premises, some freight forwarders were seated in accordance with the social distancing protocols waiting to process a document called Delivery Order (D.O.).
However, they were soon mobbed by the previously seated freight forwarders who began telling them their concerns about the ICUMS.
When Mr Gyamfi began briefing the media about the purpose of the visit, some security personnel soon arrived to escort the NDC team out of the Revenue Office.
Mr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah
'ICUMS problems are technological'
Taking his turn at the forum, Mr Spio-Garbrah, a member of the NDC Manifesto Committee attributed some of the challenges to a technological deficit in Ghana's port operations.
He said: "We cannot explain to our brothers on the African continent, that simple technologies are not working in Ghana... When you see a problem like this and you know that 50 per cent is technological, not financial or legal and then technology is not working, otherwise you can clear your goods.
"If we are the headquarters of African continental free trade but our import and export regime is being badly managed then what kind of example are we setting for the rest of African?" he quizzed.
"The evidence we saw when we went into the room with all the pushing and shoving is that things are not working well".
He also advocated for a multi-stakeholder solution for the challenges being faced by the freight forwarders.
Mr Sammy Gyamfi
NDC to address ICUMS challenges
Meanwhile, the NDC will address challenges with the ICUMS next week.
Speaking at the forum, the National Communications Officer of the NDC, Mr Sammy Gyamfi, said the party wants to well-informed on the matter hence the decision to embark on a fact-finding mission at the port.
He said: "We didn't come here to talk. We came to listen. By Monday we will address the issues you have been speaking about at a press conference and we will not stop until the right changes are done for your business to progress".