Participants at a Data Collection Survey on Enhancing Border Facilitation and strengthening Public Health Capacity in West Africa have called for the establishment of a unified Standard Operations Procedures (SOPs) at all entry points of the country.
That they explained was the only way to get a qualitative data on the number of persons leaving and entering the country in this crucial time of COVID-19 and other related diseases.
According to them, apart from the airport where the set rules and guidelines are rigorously pursued from the point of disembarking to entering the country, the land boundaries on the other hand are operating on a different level hence making efforts of tracking the number of people entering and leaving the country unaccounted for and a cumbersome procedure.
The Survey which is in two phases and being undertaken by the International Organisation for Migration, (IOM) to strengthen the overall border management capacities in key Points of Entry (POE), in the West African region through an enhanced understanding on the current situation in terms of border operations, trade facilitation and enforcement of COVID-19 response measures at the POEs.
The programme funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) also seeks to provide solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic which continues to threaten most West African countries that remain vulnerable to the unpredicted impacts of the disease due to structural and health emergency deficiencies at the land borders.
The participants drawn from the National Ambulance Service, the Ghana Immigration Service, the Customs Divisions of the Internal Revenue Service and other agencies at the border also called for more Ambulances at the border points to help address short comings to combat the COVID-19 scourge.
They urged for a unified ICT system to replace the manual method currently used to keep data of travelers at the point of entry and also called for an automated card registration system to store data to easily differentiate between residences living along the border.
The participants also stressed the need for mobile laboratories at all entry points of the country to screen all manner of persons crossing the country’s frontiers for easy identification and tracking when the need arises.
The participants urged for closer collaboration between Ghanaian Border Agencies and their foreign counterparts for effective intelligence gathering, trade facilitation as well as measures to address emergencies.
BY LAWRENCE VOMAFA-AKPALU