The Vice President on May 17th, 2017 announced three major policy directives as part of efforts to make Ghana’s Ports efficient. The Directives included having a joint and mandatory inspection at Ghana’s ports, implementing 100% paperless systems at the Ports and finally removing all customs barriers on the Transit corridor to allow for free movement of Transit goods along the corridor.
Eye on Port however decided to gauge the level of compliance of the directives across board. This time, our focus was mainly on the removal of custom barriers on the Transit corridor as the paperless and joint inspection successfully took off with much publicity.
Indeed our journey from Tema Port revealed that almost all customs checkpoints had been eliminated with the exception of 3 which are said to be ECOWAS approved barriers as confirmed by the Commissioner of Customs, Isaac Crentsil when addressing Burkina Faso Drivers.
However, the same could not be said for other transit routes like the Takyiman to Hamile route. On this corridor, the Eye on Port team discovered about four Customs Check Point which appeared to be very active from Paga to Hamile and Hamile to Techiman alone.
The first Customs checkpoint was the between Navrongo and Paga before the main Customs barrier at Paga. Here Officers were seen very active and the team interacted with them.
The next Custom barrier was the Kondioko Customs check point in Banu right after the Banu Bridge on the Navrongo-Tumu road. Here again officers were seen very active there. One of the officers, popularly referred to as champion Kofi by the people of Banu who spoke to Eye on Port said the directive needs to be reconsidered because the customs presence there at such Border towns prevented smuggling of all kinds and other illegal activities.
The next Customs Check Point the EOP team found was at Kulmasa after Nyole close to Wa, the Upper West Regional capital. Here again, officers in Uniform were found engaging in the usual Customs duties.
The team finally discovered the last Customs checkpoint at Bole in the Bole Bamboi District of the Upper West Region. Here, several trucks stopped as they approached the checkpoints and sent their documents to Custom Officers who were at post to collect, inspect and stamp them.
When contacted, the Commissioner of Customs, Isaac Crentsil said the officers are not supposed to be at post in those checkpoints and instructions have been issued through the sector commander to close all such checkpoints.
Indeed until, the officers here are reassigned and the buildings converted to different uses, the Directive to remove all Customs Barriers on the corridor will be a mirage
Indeed, the 100% paperless transactions at the despite the directive by the Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia that all customs barriers be removed from Ghana’s transit corridor on the 1st September, 2017, your authoritative Eye on Port can confirm that the directive hasn’t been fully implemented.
Eye on Port Team embarked on a painstaking investigation to ascertain whether the barriers have been removed and also to assess other challenges on the Transit Corridor specifically Bolgatanga to Hamile Border and the Hamile Border to Techiman
The team begun the journey from Bolgatanga through Navrongo and contrary to our perception that all Customs barriers on the transit corridors had been removed with the exception of 3 ECOWAS approved checkpoints more checkpoint were seen. Aside the three (3) that had already been mounted on the Kumasi to the Bolgatanga stretch, the team counted 4 additional checks from Paga to Hamile and Hamile to Techiman alone.
The first Customs checkpoint the team went through was the between Navrongo and Paga before the main Customs barrier at Paga. Here Officers were seen very active and the team interacted with them. They even part of the entourage that saw the Commissioner and the rest of the team off to Tamale.
The next Custom barrier was the Kondioko Customs check point in Banu right after the Banu Bridge on the Navrongo-Tumu road. Here again officers were seen very active and still engaging in usual customs business. One of the officers who is popularly called Champion Kofi by the people of Banu spoke to the EOP team on camera and argued against the order to have Customs barriers removed by the Vice President. In his view their presence there deters potential smuggling of all manner of items.
The third Customs Check Point the EOP team found was at Kulmasa after Nyole in the Upper West Region and the regional capital Wa. Here again, officers in Uniform were found engaging in the usual Customs duties.
The team finally discovered the last Customs checkpoint at Bole in the Bole Bamboi District of the Upper West Region. Here, several trucks stopped as they approached the checkpoints and sent their documents to Custom Officers who were at post to collect, inspect and stamp documents.
Beside the 4 Customs Check Point, the EOP team counted 14 Police Barriers and stops at the following towns and villages: Nakong, Banu, Hamile, Nadowli, Loho, Tanina (Wa), Nyoli, Kulmasa, Gindabour, Sawla, Bole, Ayorya, Subinso No2, Abotare, Wenchi and Techiman.
In addition to the Police and Customs check points, the EOP team also discovered the Wa Municipal Revenue Collection check point and the Bole Bamboi District Revenue collection check points.
The EOP team, however, observed that the Navrongo to Wa corridor was reported to be quite dangerous with a lot of armed robbery activities and also with very poor road network.
The investigations also revealed that most of the Police Posts were also in poor conditions and most of the Police officers complained of poor conditions which can be a motivation for extortion and harassment of Transit Truck Drivers and Traders.
The Eye on Port Team even had to assist transport a very sick Police Officer to the Tumu hospital when we found him in a very sick condition.
Eye on Port will keep an Eye on the corridor and viewers updated.