The Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has denied media reports that confiscated vehicles are being removed from the Tema port by people associated with the governing National Democratic Congress.
At a press briefing yesterday, the Sector Commander for Tema Collection, Mr. Confidence Nyadzi, said: “Official data in the Ghana Customs Management System indicated that the allegation was without basis” and, therefore, urged the general public to disregard the rumours.
Stating that “GCMS enables customs to electronically process the clearance of goods and carry out other functions”, he therefore, advised media practitioners to contact the office of the Sector Commander on any issues relating to customs operations at the Tema Port before putting it out in the public domain.
The media reports also said unidentified armed men over the weekend, visited the Golden Jubilee Terminal of the port ostensibly to take inventory of confiscated vehicles and possibly protect the facility, but officials of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority invited the police to drive them out and beef up security in the area.
But at the press briefing the customs officials could not tell how many confiscated vehicles had been so far allocated by the Allocation Committee to institutions and individuals, and how many had been taken out of the ports.
It also became clear that no directive had been issued to stop the clearance of auction vehicles.
The Chief Revenue Officer Outdoor, Mr. Peter A. Alu, explained that normally, the Allocation Committee, made up of officials from the Flagstaff House, Ministry of Finance and Customs, vetted and took decisions regarding confiscated vehicles which had not been cleared after 60 days of landing at the port.
According to Mr Alu, the vehicles after being identified, were gazetted for auction but the owner who could not clear the car would be given first offer privilege to pay appropriate duties and penalty and take possession.
On the other hand, he said the vehicles would be allocated to some institutions or individuals upon application.
“In either case, the client would bring along a letter which would, among others, indicate the recipient, duties and the validity period,” he said.
Customs officials later conducted the media to the Atlas Terminal where vehicles that had overstayed and retrieved from containers, were kept, but only a few vehicles were on display.
A visit to the Safe Bond Car Terminal show some confiscated vehicles with gazetted dates written on their windscreens, among others, being processed for clearance by importers.
From Godfred Blay Gibbah, Tema