Freight forwarders think paperless port system ‘too aggressive’

File photo[/caption] Freight forwarders have raised concerns over the “aggressive” timeline in the implementation of the paperless system at the ports as directed by Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia. They claim though they have been involved in meetings since the announcement by Vice President Bawumia in May, a lot more should have been done before the takeoff on Friday, September 1. Speaking on TV3’s Hot Issues on Saturday, the President of the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, Kwabena Ofosu Appiah, said “I think that if we had anticipated a very aggressive timeline and had probably put ourselves in better shape, we would have delivered a much more seamless process.” According to him, some of their demands were not met before September 1, to the extent that even as of August 31, they were unsure of the smooth transition from the old system to the new one. Mr Ofosu Appiah insinuated that his members were not ready but “to the extent that the ICT solution providers said were ready to go [we were]”. “And they gave us reassurances that they were ready to go,” he added. Since its implementation, the vice president said revenue has increased at the ports. According to him, revenue at the ports increased from GH¢130 million in the first week of September for 2016 to GH¢213 million in the same period for 2017. “The results are amazing. We just looked at data this morning – first week of collections under the paperless system in September this year compared to last year first week of collections in September 2016, and collections have gone up by 56 percent.”

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But Mr Ofosu Appiah said not all is well with the new system. He said even the call center is not “top-notch”. “It has not got the capacity to escalate our issues,” he told host Winston Amoah. ‘Unorthodox places’ He claimed a short code made available to them for compliance was ineffective, recalling how they had resorted to some “unorthodox places” in having their concerns heard. He cited how sometimes the Institute had to go directly to the Office of the Vice President for concerns to be made known. “[But] we are still in talks with the Commissioner of CEPS.” He expressed confidence that the system, going forward, will work despite the initial hiccoughs, pledging their support to that effect. “At a point, it was the system which was rather frustrating us and not the other way round,” the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders’ boss said, adding that they support the vice presidents call that “within six months, we have to get things cleared within four hours”. By Emmanuel Kwame Amoh||Ghana ]]>