IMANI, a policy think-tank in Africa, has revealed that all the progress made at the ports are under serious threat because of effort by government to replace all the systems with a new untested alternative called UNIPASS.
“Ghana seems to be rushing into something serious and complex with not enough contemplation and preparation.
“We should be careful throwing out the hard work of many governments starting in earnest from the establishment of the GCNET and West Blue systems, which had issues but have also seen a lot of improvement over time,” it said.
IMANI made these observations in a paper reviewing the Trade Facilitation Agreement Between the Government of Ghana and Ghana Link Network Services Limited for the Provision of a Fully Integrated Trade Facilitation and Customs Management System.
IMANI observed that the contract covering the takeover of single window operations at the port by Ghana Link and its overseas partner CUPIA Korea is quite simplistic and shallow.
“The present arrangement looks like government is handing over the contract ‘on a silver platter’ at no evident cost to the contractor herein; and then also grants them generous terms and wide latitude to operate without proving either their capability or producing proof upfront of what they bring in terms of investment and other resources. This will no doubt attract suspicions of undue influence,” it said.
The Ministry of Trade has awarded a 10-year third single window contract to Ghana Link Network Services Limited with its overseas partner, CUPIA Korea Customs Service.
The sole-sourced contract, which was signed March 29, 2018 and published on the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) to provide a trade facilitation and Customs Management System (UNIPASS) was signed without following due process and competitive tendering.
IMANI believes the UNIPASS contract in its brevity still gives much space to the rights of the Ghana Link Limited (also referred to as The Contractor) and responsibilities of the Ghana government and penalties attendant to default on the part of Ghana government.
“There is not sufficient space allotted to responsibilities of the Contractor (Ghana Link) and the penalties for their failure,” it said.
IMANI pointed out that there is no liability assumed by the contractor (Ghana Link) for all the assets and operations it has been given, adding: “At a minimum, one would expect a certain minimum investment by the contractor and a Performance Bond or something similar to assure the government of Ghana that it is covered and will not be the loser if things go wrong”.
“If the Ghana government sought independent objective legal advice on this, it is likely they would be advised to allow UNIPASS to make a competitive Bid against the existing system and prove why they must take over the system – plus the rewards of such a move,” it said.
Ghana Link made government to believe that they have a superior system than the current vendors, GCNET and West blue.
But after almost 2 years of getting the sole-sourced contract, it has not been able to deliver on its promise to build a superior system to deploy.
However, they are bent on taking over the ports. The question many stakeholders are asking is: what system are the Koreans piloting at Takoradi and will finally operate at the port when they have not built any new superior system?