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TRANSPORTERS LAMENT TRADE FACILITATION SETBACKS ON TRANSIT CORRIDOR  Executive Secretary of JAPTU Ghana, Ibrahim Musah

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The incidence of extortion and other illegal, unpleasant activities of some security officers towards cargo truckers on the transit corridor seem to persist, despite many efforts by stakeholders within the port and shipping industry to put an end to them.

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The latest report of such activities was made by the Executive Secretary of the Joint Association of Port Transport Unions (JAPTU), Ghana, Ibrahim Musah, on the Eye on Port program, while discussing the state of the haulage sector in Ghana.

He lamented that, while significant enthusiasm to promote trade facilitation has been shown by top officials of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, and allied stakeholders, some few recalcitrant officers continue to engage in practices that derail such efforts.

Mr. Musah disclosed that some of these customs officers on the transit corridor are charging fees for services that are expected to be free.

“When a transit truck breaks down, you are to report to the nearest customs station where they deploy an officer to inspect the problem and write a report. This is supposed to be done without a fee, but in practice some customs officers are beginning to make it a key part of their regulations, to charge GHC 500- GHC 1000 just before the documents are released,” he bemoaned.

He explained that some of these fees are requested for, to cover the logistical expenditure made by the officers. Yet, while Ibrahim Musah deems it fair for transporters to sometimes dole out some tokens of appreciation, he remained peeved by the demands of some officers to charge truckers, in the guise of “workmanship”.

He nonetheless heaped praised for the customs hierarchy, particularly the Assistant Commissioner in charge of Transit, Peter Antobre Ofori, for always providing a speedy resolution to such matters, whenever JAPTU calls upon him.

“If not for his open-door policy for us, we would have been in a difficult situation because there is a penalty to be paid once a transit vehicle is not able to exit the country over some stipulated period of days,” he expressed.

Ibrahim Musah continued to lament the number of police barriers on the corridor, which he said are not less than 70, between Tema and Paga.

He said, “much as the police hierarchy will tell you that the roads need to be safe, which we appreciate, sometimes we think some officers take undue advantage of providing security, to rather extort monies. You have uniformed policemen who would disrespect their uniforms by demanding 5 cedis from drivers.”

The Executive Secretary of JAPTU stated that aside the financial implications these activities have on transporters, it is trade facilitation and the overall competitiveness of Ghana’s corridors that suffer.

He said, “officers should understand that as a state, we are in competition with other countries that have ports, and we need to conduct ourselves in a manner that promotes trade.”

Mr. Musah cautioned that developmental and marketing efforts made towards upgrading the country’s ports may be rendered futile if these actions, are not, as a matter of urgency, nipped in the bud.

(The Daily Searchlight appears every day on the newsstands and is for sale 24 hours every day and all week on www.ghananewsstand.com. Visit www.ghananewsstand.com for a wide variety of newspapers published in Ghana and from across the world.)

 

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