The success or otherwise of the paperless port programme due for implementation in the country’s ports from the 1st of September will solely depend on reliable internet connectivity.
This is the view of some stakeholders including clearing agents and freight forwarders.
According to them, there must be deliberate efforts by government through the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and their technical partner WestBlue Consulting to ensure that there is stable internet connectivity to power the system.
They cite the incessant system downtimes with the current GcNet system as an example of how frustrating it can be without strong, powerful, stable and reliable internet connectivity. Recently, some stakeholders including the immediate past Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Shippers’ Authority, Dr. Kofi Mbiah, have had course to complain about the incessant internet downtimes with the GcNet system especially in the port of Tema. This usually culminates in wasted man hours to the detriment of shippers and freight forwarders who mostly are at the receiving end in terms of delays in the clearance process.
“One of the most challenging issues that shippers face in the clearance chain is the system downtimes in the port. This translates into wasted man hours at the detriment of shippers. We must find ways of addressing this issue once and for all.
“It is disheartening most of the time when you get to the long room and find shippers and customs officers sitting idle and when you ask, they tell you the system is down. This is unacceptable,” Dr. Mbiah pointed out.
Mrs. Esther Gyebi Donkor, the General Manager in charge of Marketing and Corporate Affairs at the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), has also recently been confronted with the issue of complaints by shippers on delays as a result of system downtimes.
This is her response: “It is true, we have our own system and then we have the GcNet system so sometimes our internal system is slow or the GcNet system goes slow but naturally I don’t think it should be a problem because it is not every day.
“From time to time, you have those challenges. Sometimes, it is the fibre optic that they have laid that has been affected somewhere or the other and sometimes we have thieves around the place also stealing them along the line.
“So when we have those challenges we have our IT people who are always around; they follow up on the system and they trace where the problem is and then we are able to fix it. So it should not affect the paperless,’’ she said.