Clearing Agent sues Gov’t over West Blue deal

A clearing agent, Michael Kweku Djan, has taken on the government in what he considers a clear breach of the 1992 Constitution by sole sourcing the National Single Window and Risk Management System Project to West Blue Ghana Limited.

He has therefore, sued the Minister of Trade and Industry (1st Respondent), Minister of Finance (2nd Respondent), the Commissioner General, Ghana Revenue Authority (3rd Respondent) and the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice (4th Respondent) praying to the High Court of Justice, Human Rights Division, to declare the deal unconstitutional and further direct the project to go through competitive tendering.

He is also praying to the Court for an Order of Interlocutory Injunction restraining the Respondents or their assigns, agents or privies or any other authority from solely engaging West Blue Ghana Limited in the establishment of the National Single Window Project until the final determination of the application for the enforcement of his fundamental human rights.

The government intends to integrate all shipment activities and transit related businesses to achieve efficiency to enable it generate more revenue with the establishment of the National Single Window Project.

The contracts of five companies that are currently providing various Single Window solutions to the government expire on August 31, 2015.

The companies are BIVAC International Ghana Limited, Gateway Services Limited, Ghana Link Network Services Limited, Inspection and Control Service Limited and Webb Frontaine Limited. Together they form the Joint Consultative Committee of Destination Inspection Scheme.

The government through the Minister for Trade and Industry, Ekow Spio-Gabrah, had on June 15, 2015, written to the Destination Inspection Committees, expressed the intention of not renewing their contract upon expiration.

Prior to that, the Minister had on June 3, 2015, in a letter made a request to the Destination Inspection Companies to raise US$35million to the government to defray some debts after which they would be awarded a contract of 0.35% of Free on Board (FOB) values on all Ghana’s imports for at least a period of five years to enable them recover their investments.

The said letter further stated interested Destination Inspection Companies should respond with an expression of interest by June 8, 2015 at 12.00.

Mr. Djan, a staff with Brema Shipping Company Limited, contends that because the announcement, he had intended engaging and partnering with a firm which has the expertise in the implementation of the National Single Window and Risk Management System Project to participate in any bidding and to possibly undertake the contract of providing Single Window Services and Risk Management System Project to enable government ensure efficiency at the ports and generate more revenue for national development.

However, he was surprised when it came to his notice that per a letter dated July 12, 2015, the President through his Chief of Staff has instructed the Minister of Finance (2nd Respondent), to formally engage West Blue Ghana Limited to undertake the National Single Window and Risk Management System Project.

The letter, he noted, further directed the Minister of Finance to take the necessary steps to secure the Public Procurement’s approval in order to engage West Blue Ghana Limited on Single Source basis.

He argued in his statement of claim filed at the High Court on Friday, July 10, 2015, by his Counsel, Paa Kwesi Abaidoo from Dehyena Chambers that directive given by the President through his Chief of Staff to the Minister of Finance to engage West Blue Ghana Limited “is inconsistent a flagrant breach of section 40 of the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663)” which lays down the conditions required to warrant a procurement entity to be engaged in a single-source procurement.

He believes that the announcement by the President, he as well as other persons and entities who are interested in bidding to secure the contract to provide Single Window Services have been denied all the opportunities to bid in accordance with Act 663.

“That I carry the advice of Counsel and I verily believe same to be true that the directive by the President through his Chief of Staff to the Finance Minister breaches Article 17 of the 1992 Constitution as it is discriminatory against me and all other persons who have an interest in bidding to provide Single Window Services. The exclusive opportunity given to West Blue Ghana Limited is sufficient preference being given to another entity at my detriment and that of others who have expertise and capability to provide the same services,” he noted in his statement of claim.

He also believes that the conduct of the Minister of Finance and the Commissioner General of the Ghana Revenue Authority to engage West Blue Ghana Limited on Single-sourcing basis for the implementation of the Single Window Services constitutes an infringement on his Fundamental Human Rights.

He said the award of the contract to West Blue Ghana Limited smacks of favouritism, arbitrariness and a flagrant disrespect of the laws of Ghana and believes that if not checked by the Court, “same could be an avenue for other such open flouting of the laws of Ghana by the Respondents to the detriment of all citizens.

To that effect, he is praying to the Court to grant him the following reliefs;

A declaration that the decision of the Presidency as contained in the letter by the Chief of Staff to the 2nd Respondent to engage West Blue Ghana Limited to undertake National Single Window and Risk Management System Project is discriminatory and a breach of the fundamental human rights of the Applicant as enshrined under Article 17 of the 1992 Constitution.

A declaration that the Single sourcing of the National Single Window and Risk Management System Project in favour of West Blue Ghana Limited is a breach of section 40 of the Public Procurement Act 2003 (Act 663).

A declaration that the implementation of the National Single Window and Risk Management System Project is a type of service available and capable by other service providers in Ghana.

A declaration that the engagement of West Blue Ghana Limited by the 2nd and 3rd Respondents for the implementation of the Single Window and Risk Management System Project is an infringement on the rights of the Applicant to work and to have equal business opportunities to realize his economic rights as a citizen of Ghana.

An order directing the 2nd and 3rd Respondents to conduct themselves in accordance with Article 296 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana with respect to the award of the contract for the implementation of the national Single Window and Risk System Project.

An Order of Certiorari to quash the directive by the Chief of Staff to the 2nd and 3rd Respondent to engage only West Blue for the implementation of the National Single Window and Risk Management System Project; which directive the 2nd Respondent intends to enforce.

An Order of Mandamus compelling the 1st and 2nd Respondents to subject the implementation of the National Single Window and Risk Management System Project to a competitive tendering to enable the Applicant and his respective partners and all other interested entities to participate in the tender. – Kasapafmonline.com

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