West Blue Consulting, IT service providers for the Customs Division of GRA, has called for an overarching independent institution that would be responsible for setting standards and auditing performance of technical providers in the clearance chain to meet approved targets and also address challenges with the assistance of existing data.
“The easiest way to address this system downtime is to have an independent body who will be responsible for monitoring us, and I think data should drive this report of system downtime,” Aminu Uthman, General Manager, Technical, West Blue said.
The General Managers of West Blue Consulting, Aminu Uthman, and Kingsley Abeyei, who were speaking on Eye on Port’s interactive platform live on national television, suggested that the independent auditing should be done to address the issue of who should be accountable for customer concerns of system downtimes during clearance.
“People will tell you the system is not working but I personally have been at terminals, and I know the systems are running. I think we have to look at data, statistics to show truly that the systems are working or not.” Aminu Uthman expressed.
The Top officials from West Blue said, West-blue is very efficient in its systems and customer feedback is top notch with rare cases of downtime, and even that is when they are running maintenance.
“So far as we are concerned, when it comes to system downtimes I think we are very proud of the fact that we don’t we don’t experience that because so far as I know you hardly hear our stakeholders telling you the PAARS is down,” Kingsley Abeyei, General Manager, Operations, West Blue added.
They said, other factors could be blamed for situations when port customers say systems are down, and often that is as a result of internet connectivity on the part of the customer.
However, according to West Blue, they have provided E-Zones at vantage points where Port customers can have free access to good internet service to augment their online transactions.
“If you are submitting your document and for some reason your internet is not working you can go to any of our E-Zones offices and we have internet facilities there, and you can use it free of charge,” Kingsley Abeyei revealed.
On the issue of revenue leakages, the General Manager technical, West Blue Consulting, Aminu Uthman says he does not believe IT solutions may be the final remedy to plug in loopholes but instead a proper research should be conducted into what other factors may contribute to government not reaching its revenue targets.
“We need to find the root causes of the revenue leakages. For all you know the solution may not be IT systems.”
West Blue says it interfaces effectively with all the agencies in the port clearance chain, to bring a seamless transaction process to clients of the port, and this is demonstrated in the introduction of interventions like the Pre Arrival Assessment system and the Joint Inspection Management Information System.
Kingsley Abeyei, General Manager, Operations of West Blue, advised importers to be in close monitoring of the task they assign to the clearing agents in order to have a transparent account of all processes.
“If you are hiring a person, you should instruct the person to put your number so that you can be notified when report is issued. Once that is done you will get your report. We want to educate our importers to always be interested in whatever they give to their agents to clear for them,” he prescribed.
According to West Blue, all transactional stages are made accessible to the importers via the Ghana Trade Hub application or website, where with the Tax Identification Number of Importer, consignments can be tracked.
West Blue Consulting has been providing technical support for Customs since 2015.