Freight forwarders back suit against Ghana Link, UNIPASS



Business News of Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Source: Graphic.com.gh

IFF Kwabena Ofosu AppiahKwabena Ofosu-Appiah, President, GIFF

One of the stakeholders in the country's port sector has backed the decision of West Blue Ghana Limited, an IT solutions firm, to seek redress at the court for the alleged plagiarisation of the national single window software by Ghana Link and three other organisations.

According to them, the decision of West Blue to allow the court to determine the software system controversy was the right path to take to settle the issue once and for all.

Responding to the announcement that West Blue had dragged Ghana Link Network Service Limited and its partners to court for an alleged cloning of its single window software, the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF) said allowing the court to settle the case would go a long way to put the matter to rest so that businesses could continue their work without having to worry about an issue that had the potential to affect their operations.

Software

"When we heard that West Blue has taken the matter of the software system’s possible piracy to court, we felt it was the right thing to do than just using any other means to address the current challenges," the President of GIFF, Mr Kwabena Ofosu-Appiah, said in a statement.

It said although the GIFF had made known its stand regarding the issue, the institute was glad that the matter would finally be settled in the court.

"We had earlier kicked against the takeover of the single window operations at the port because we felt the system was no different from the current one being implemented by West Blue.

We still stand on that point of view. However, we are a bit calmed that the issue is in the court now," it added.

The statement said the institute would closely follow the court case and would respect the judgement of the court once it is given.

Other stakeholders in the port sector also urged president Nana Akufo-Addo to launch an investigation into the matter to save the government from embarrassment.

Background

The controversy surrounding the UNIPASS National Single Window took a different turn last week when West Blue Ghana Limited, the operators of the system, dragged Ghana Link Network Service Limited and its partners to court for allegedly pirating its software for the project.

The suit was filed at the Commercial Division of the Accra High Court against Ghana Link Network Services Limited, Customs UNI-PASS International Agency of Korea (CUPIA, Korea) and Work Smart Limited.

West Blue is seeking an order from the court restraining the three companies, its directors, agents or anyone acting in their names from using its software as part of the UNIPASS system.

It also wants the court to award damages against the defendants for infringing its copyright by cloning its software without authorisation.

UNIPASS Suspended

The suit comes barely two months after the Economic Management Team (EMT) headed by the Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, directed the suspension of the UNI-PASS port clearing system which was scheduled to commence on January 1, 2019.

EMT

In the statement, the EMT tasked CUPIA of Korea and Ghana Link Network Service to provide a demonstration that they had developed a "full end-to-end Customs Technology Solutions Systems, successfully tested, with an independent stress report, and provide a comprehensive implementation plan to the EMT by the end of January 2019".

On August 4, 2015, West Blue entered into an agreement with the government to provide a single window project as part of efforts to integrate the systems of service providers at the country’s ports and facilitate the clearing of goods without voluminous paperwork and reduce transactional time.

The contract was to expire in 2020 after which West Blue would hand over the system to the government of Ghana.

However, in March 2018, the Ministry of Trade signed a 10-year sole-sourced contract with Ghana Link Network Service Limited and its overseas partner, CUPIA Korea Customs Service, to oversee the implementation of the National Single Window Project, including the paperless system, at the ports.

Ghana Link and its overseas partners, CUPIA Korea Customs Service, will provide trade facilitation and Customs Management System at a 0.75 per cent fee (FOB) per their contract with the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

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