4 Drivers Arrested For Attempted Smuggling

George-BlanksonThe Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) at Elubo has arrested four drivers for attempting to smuggle goods for discharge in Ghana, across the Elubo border.

The drivers, according to the Customs Division, hid the items especially rice, under hardware and illegally, imported them into the country.

The Division said the  unhealthy practice was perpetuated  by some drivers  of vehicles carrying transit goods covered with tarpaulin  as they  knew that the personnel   did not insist on checking such consignment, warning that  punitive action would  be taken against such offenders.

The Sector Commander of the Customs Division, of the GRA Mr. Andrew Aneniba, disclosed these at a cross-border sensitisation programme held here on Monday, as part of the   Borderless Alliance and ALCO caravan project.

The project advocates strong regional trade which brings together state agencies and the private sector to discuss problems on road governance including bribes and driver harassment at four crossing borders in West Africa.

He told the participants that, heavy penalties were imposed on   offenders adding that, apart from the penalties exacted on the consignments, the vehicles were delayed closed to two weeks.

“Smuggling these   items especially rice, into the country, defeats the purpose. We took duty plus penalty. The drivers  carrying the smuggled goods were  penalised while  each  of four   owners of the vehicles,  paid 50 per cent tax liabilities and we have  directed the GcNet to be scrupulous with those trucks,” he said.

“I wish to warn that more punitive measures would be taken against drivers caught in the act,” Mr. Aneniba said.
He indicated that as a result  of the  recent incident, the Division  would  now  insist that all such consignments must  be covered with tarpaulin  for easy sealing electronically, explaining that, the  only  exception would  be for those vehicles carrying heavy  machinery which were  not loaded  on enclosed trucks and  fresh kola nuts which could go  bad when exposed to heat.

“In the next two weeks these   measures   would be put into effect and those  who fail to comply would  not be  permitted to transit their consignment,” Mr. Aneniba said.

The Sector Commander said  the officers now had a system to capture time  of receipt of documents and the time  of final release from Custom charge as  it  had  helped to put  officers  on their  toes  because they were   liable to sanctions in the case of  unnecessary delays.

With the introduction of these measures, Mr Aneniba said, the amount of  time spent on any transactions was one hour and fifteen minutes, stressing that, if there were some delays, then it was time for stakeholders to  find  out what happened between the  originating station after release and arrival to Elubo.

He said that the Division was  faced with the challenges  of lack   of  a scanner and this had compelled the  staff to engage in intrusive examination of consignments, which should  have been scanned, but assured that the Division was doing its  best to check wrongdoings at the Elubo border.

‘’Earlier this year, there were reports of delays in the clearance process at Elubo. But we at Customs Division of the GRA at Elubo have made giant strides in respect of  both in -bound and  out bound traffic.” Aneniba reported, as he expressed his joy at the stakeholders sensitisation programme.

‘’I hope this  borderless Alliance and ALCO programme will find  out the  progress made in the area  of trade facilitation and  if  no progress has  beenmade, we find  out the  bottlenecks and how to resolve them” Mr Aneniba said.

The Head of Research and Development at the Ghana Shippers Authority[GSA],Mr. Abraham Ocloo, stated that, the programme was would enable stakeholders   including  importers and exporters , the Custom Divison, destination inspectors and the authority, to share   ideas and  information on trade  facilitation.

He said, a recent baseline study indicated that importers and their representatives were desirous of getting more education.
Mr Ocloo said the Borderless Alliance-ALCO programmes, was some of such platforms to share and discuss issues confronting the industry and seeks ways of addressing them.

He said facilitating trade across the borders and checking delays are    major issue especially, on the number of check points”.
‘’One  other issue  which came  out of the  baseline study was how  much importers and exporters  were expected to pay at every stage  and will  put such  information in  print and electronic media  and also at the various   points”.   From Clement Adzei Boye, Elubo

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