Police, Customs, Truckers Et Al Sensitized Against Harassment, Extortion On Transit Corridors

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Spining

As part of efforts to enhance trade on the transit corridors of Ghana, a week- long sensitization programmes including workshops and roadshows have been held by stake holder agencies including the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, Ghana Police, Customs, the Borderless Alliance, Ghana Shippers Authority and the West Africa Trade Hub.

gfThe sensitization programs which took place in Kumasi, Techiman, Kintampo, Tamale, and Paga aims to reduce harassment and extortion by security agencies on the Transit Corridor as well as inform transit truck drivers on requirements and regulations on using the Ghanaian corridor in order to enhance Ghana?s competitiveness in the Transit Trade within the Sub-Region and boost the trade in general.
Ghana Ports? Interventions

Addressing participants in Techiman, a Marketing and Public Relations Officer of GPHA, Lydia Tham said a number of programmes are being put in place at the Port of Tema to make it easy to do business there including the pending port expansion which will allow bigger vessels with deeper draft.
She said various electronic systems currently being deployed by the Port Authority at the various offices and some processes in port operations lay credence to the desire and commitment of the Authority to ensure that the ports in Ghana gain full electronic status within the shortest time possible.
Mrs. Tham added that it will go a long way to minimize illegal activities in the port.
The Marketing and Public Relations Officer of GPHA also revealed that charges on transit cargoes are lower as compared to domestic cargo to facilitate trade in the sub region.

She also hinted that GPHA is engaging stakeholders so that drivers who load cargo from the port to land locked countries go along the corridor hustle free.
She implored truck owners and drivers to always ensure that their trucks are road and cargo worthy before they enter into the port to load cargo.
?Very soon all trucks entering and exiting the port will be certified,? she stated.

Viability of Ghana?s Corridors
The Ashanti Regional Branch Manager of the Ghana Shippers Authority, Hughes Barnes said Ghana?s transport corridor still remains viable in terms of distance to landlocked countries. He said sadly, the corridor has been bedeviled with challenges such as harassment, bribery and delays.
He revealed that since the beginning of the year over 45 checkpoints from the police and customs were countered during a road verification trip conducted by GPHA and other stakeholder institutions.
?These numerous checkpoint are hindrance to trade facilitation and a worry to shippers,? he said.
He bemoaned the fact that the checkpoints serve as sources of delay

to transporters which has led to a decline in the volume of transit trade through the sea ports.
Mr. Barnes commended the police and customs for providing safety for transit cargoes but urged them to be professional in their dealings by eschewing undue harassment and extortions.
He also revealed that taskforce of the various district, municipal, metropolitan assemblies along the transit corridor stop transit trucks and demand monies from them as levies.
He cited Techiman, Kintampo, Tamale and Walewale as being areas where such practices are carried out and appealed to the MCEs in those areas to help address the challenge.

Noel Kusonu, Train and Transport Specialist from Borderless Alliance, said countries like Togo have 8 checkpoints from Togo to Baukina Faso as compared to the 41 checkpoints from Tema to Paga.
He said there was the need to reduce the checkpoints in the country in order to facilitate trade along the transit corridor.

Truck drivers raised concerns about the complex border procedure, which according to them increases the cost of doing business in the country.
They argued that they incur cost and experience delay as a result of multiple checkpoints on the Tema-Paga corridor and appealed that something should be done about it.
Mr. Ebenezer Glover, the chairman of the ECOWAS Brown Card urged the truck drivers to patronize the brown cards since it the best insurance cover.
Truck drivers in Paga repeated their concerns with regards to the frequent stoppage on the transit corridor by the police.
They accused the police administration of harassment and extortion which they said inhibit the transit trade.

At a similar stakeholder meeting in Paga, the Upper East Regional Police Commander, DCOP Simon Afeko mounted a spirited defense for the police security checkpoints stressing that they were meant to prevent the smuggling of good in and out of the country and curb the spate of arm robberyUpper East Regional Police Commander,

Police Response

DCOP Simon Afeko entreated the truck drivers to report police officers who extort monies from them for the necessary action to be taken against them.
The workshop was also aimed at strengthening political will to eliminate inefficiencies, fight road accidents as well as analyze existing transit procedures, costs delays experienced in Tema Port and along the Tema-Paga transport corridor when importing and exporting goods to and from land-locked countries.

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