18 August 2017

Ghana: Wholesale Removal of Customs Barriers and Our Security

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In less than a fortnight, the country will witness the total removal of all internal barriers mounted by the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), so as to facilitate trade, according to Vice President Dr Mahmudu Bawumia.

Being in a haste to implement such a decision by a group of nations, have we sat and pondered over the security implications at hand?

A few days ago, there was a report purported to have come from some western diplomatic circles, indicating the position of our country as a possible target for a terrorist attack, but what did we do with such useful information?

As expected, we allowed the politicians to paint the issue in political party colours, which 'killed' the very red alert posture the subject deserved.

Just about the same time, Operation Vanguard, the anti-galamsey taskforce, was being given oxygen to gather momentum to flush out persons whose activities in the mining sector are inimical to our very existence as a people since our water bodies have been inundated with poisonous chemicals.

Barely two weeks after deployment, reports claimed that the anti-galamsey taskforce had a hand in the killing of four persons at Akyem Ekukuso, near Kwabeng in the Eastern Region.

However, the Commander of Operation Vanguard, Col William Agyepong, denied the allegation.

The bodies, which were retrieved from a galamsey pit filled with water, bore marks of assault and crime.

Even though the Homicide Unit of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service is conducting an inquisition into the case, it has an uphill task to unravel the mystery and those behind the heinous crime.

The taskforce spelt out its mode of operation, and from the explanation; it did not undertake any nocturnal duties in the general area on the day in question.

Fact however remains that four persons suffered homicide, and the question begging for an answer is who committed the murders?

From all indications, the act was committed by a group of persons, and who are these unseen criminals?

This, and a few skirmishes recorded recently in the country, are strong signals to us that our security institutions need to sleep less.

We chose to abandon the said threat of a terrorist attack, and on Sunday 13 August, this year, the neighbouring Burkinabe capital, Ouagadougou, shook to its very s, following another terrorist attack, which claimed several lives.

One comes to terms with the realities that we are playing the ostrich and treading dangerously.

Already, the nation's borders are so porous that unmanifested items enter undetected.

It is only at these Customs internal checkpoints, when security is intensified, that some of these contraband items could be intercepted.

From the proposed, we are likely to pursue the facilitation of trade more than the revenue, when the latter is already suffering, using the barometer for the half-year, which was negative 0.47%.

Reports indicate that the major Customs barriers across the country, such as Dabala Junction, Asikuma, Nsutem, and Kubease, among others, have been justifying their existence, intercepting uncustomed goods, which penalties rake in revenue for the state.

This reporter's independent investigations revealed that persons who smuggle automobiles into the country by road, through the southeastern corridor, have switched their activities to through the northern borders.

The clear manifestation of the assertion is displayed in the huge numbers of uncustomed vehicles intercepted at the northern barriers, from which revenue would eventually come into the national kitty.

The security implications in the movement of illicit arms should also not be underestimated.

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