When will the Seemingly Government-Sanctioned Chronic Corruption at the Ghana Ports Cease?

The rate that I hear of abuses of power at the Ghana ports with intent to rob not only the State but also, importers of the needed generated revenue and their goods respectively, really makes me sick. This glaringly corrupt practice has been ongoing since the era of former President Jerry John Rawlings until today as I speak, under the presidency of His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

 

Therefore, there is no wonder that some custom officers at the ports within months or years working there acquire immense wealth. The following are how both the custom officers and the various governments both present and past, had or have been robbing the State and individual importers of their revenues and goods.

 

In time past, a current work colleague who was once an accountant for a company at both Tema and Takoradi harbours made the following revelation to me which I did subsequently publish an article about. In those days he said, when the custom officers overpriced the import duty payment on your goods, after you have paid and cleared them, they then went secretly behind your back, without your knowledge as the importer, to prepare papers for refund of overpayment of duty. They use your details (name, address etc.) as retrieved from the duty forms you had already filled in, go to a bank to open an account and have the refund paid into it. They were doing that with the connivance of some bank clerks or managers. The syndicate then removes the money and share it among themselves. This explains why they overcharged or probably continue to overcharge duty payments on some imported goods. This trick of duping importers was their secret operational policy about thirty years ago.

 

My own former Kumawu Tweneboa Kodua Secondary School classmate now in London told me about a year ago what his own brother-in-law, a member of the NDC and a businessman, travelling abroad importing goods of all sorts into Ghana, was doing when NDC was in power. His brother-in-law confided in him how NDC card-holding members were paying peanuts on the goods they were importing into the country. If the actual duty was say GHC30,000, they would rather pay just about GHC3,000 and then pay about GHC1,000 or GHC2,000 into NDC’s private bank accounts to support the party. I published an article about this allegation which my classmate confirmed to be the absolute truth and what was really prevailing at the ports with regard to importers who were NDC card-bearing members.

 

What really pisses me off is how they overcharge duties on cars or goods imported into the country. When the importer encounters difficulty paying the asking import duty, the goods goes to rent and within weeks get auctioned. The way they auction the goods which is a deliberate act of thievery and absolute nonsense to me is the reason for putting out this very publication. When you purchase a car for say, US$5,000, they will assess your duty to be say, US$30,000. When you are faced with difficulty paying the duty instantly, the car goes to rent and within two months, the government auctions it for say, US$1,500 to a totally different person. Those the impounded cars are auctioned to are mostly always the card-bearing members or cronies of the ruling political party. What nonsense is that?

 

If the car is to be auctioned, why not start it from the duty price or a price nearer to that but rather at just a minuscule fraction of it? Why not invite the owner of the car to attend the auction sales to bid in an attempt to buy it like any other bidders? However, the government agency responsible  for the auction secretly arranges to dispose of the car to a party member, a family member or a friend in a manner clearly seen as corruption or theft.

 

Instances of these are happening right under the government of His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. What is going on if I should ask? Ghanaians voted for a change for the better but not for the continuation of the same irregularities and corruption for which reasons we all joined force; clamoured and voted for a change of government from NDC  to NPP..

 

Check the following YouTube link for the corruptions going on at the ports that have the hallmark of the government but of which we need to condemn.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJzyZcvx5C4

 

Again, the exorbitant duties tailored to enrich the country overnight or to cause some importers to lose their goods so as to auction them cheaply to some specified favourites are all corruption in disguise. Check the following news published on Ghanaweb under their General News of Thursday, 21 June 2018 titled, “Exorbitant fees at the port killing us – Angry Ghanaian blasts government” and under the web link:

 

https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Exorbitant-fees-at-the-port-killing-us-Angry-Ghanaian-blasts-government-662199

 

To avoid the exorbitant killer duty payments with all the concomitant corrupt practices that end up enriching certain individuals, I shall suggest as follows.

 

  1. Carlos Ahenkora (Hon) is understood to have worked at the Tema harbour all his life prior to becoming an NPP Member of Parliament for Tema West and a Deputy Minister of Trade since Election 2016. Being a harbour boy who knows all the loopholes for people to enrich themselves illegally at the ports, should please be reassigned to the ports to help pluck the loopholes if he is himself an honest man desirous to helping the NPP government to succeed satisfactorily.

 

  1. The revenue generation net must be cast wide and afar to capture many people rather than a few with greater focus on the ports hence crazily overcharging duty payments. Concentrate on the volume rather than a few. Don’t just charge a few unreasonably heavy import duties to running the nation. For example, one late Mr Kwame Dapaah, a store owner from Kumawu was the most successful store owner in the whole of Kumawu. His things were sold at comparatively cheaper prices than that of the other storekeepers or store owners hence many people patronised his goods. His store items were selling like hot cakes. By the cycle of quicker sales and replenishments, he ended up being the richest storekeeper in Kumawu. Similarly, if the duties are priced moderately, many people can import things into the country provided flooding the market with such items will not come to kill the local production. By this, the government will end up collecting more revenues than by the current method of charging exorbitant, but completely dissuasive, duties.

     

  2. Confiscated goods going for auction must publicly be announced and advertised so as to attract the attention of the public with the owners of the goods inclusive. By this, a bigger revenue can be yielded from the auction sales than the current method where the impounded goods are somehow secretly auctioned to some favourites at next to nothing prices.

     

  3. How I wish we could arrange honest White retirees or volunteer corps to come over to Ghana to help us at the ports with the collection of import duties for the government. During my school days at Kumawu Tweneboa Kodua Secondary School, we used to have some White American volunteer corps as teachers. Can’t we have some at our ports to stop the Ghanaian custom officers who continue to practice corruption to enrich themselves and their friends or political party members at the cost of the entire nation?

     

  4. If all Ghanaian importers would listen to this following advice, we could without raising a finger or demonstrating, get the governments to reduce the import duties as well as getting their act together to rid the ports of corrupt officials. As economic sanctions (any actions taken by one nation or group of nations to harm the economy of another nation or group, often to force a political change) are used as a tool to achieve an expected political results, so shall I suggest to all importers to stop importing into the country for three to six months with the intention of getting the government charge reasonable but not the ongoing exorbitant duties. If for six months nothing is coming in for import duties to be levied on, then whichever government is in power will come into reasonable import duty terms with the importers. Some people may think that is not feasible. It will be more workable than being only feasible. This method will be somehow our economic sanctions to place on the government to let it see reason or else, it gets crippled.

     

We need a clean break from the NDC corruption, where Alex Segbefia, then a Deputy Chief of Staff, employed his buddy Charles Wilson, to impound cars for sale to NDC party gurus and members at extremely cheaper prices not worth the shipment fee paid by the actual owner or importer let alone, the cost of the car as purchased abroad.

 

Where are the technocrats in the ruling NPP party and government? The “book long” guys who by way of being principally lawyers and PhD holders in irrelevant fields will not help the cause of the President and his government to succeeding with their implementation of policies to deliver their numerous plausible promises to the people of Ghana.

 

I am yawning, feeling tired and sleep so I say, adios!

 

Rockson Adofo

 

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