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Hundreds of local traders in Aflao and its surrounding communities have accused Customs officials of frustrating them out of business.
The traders poured their frustrations out when the sector commander in the region deployed the local task force to the local market in Ketu South and beyond Akatsi to arrest un-custom goods which they suspected duty has not been paid on.
Some traders who narrated their ordeal to this paper enumerated that members of the local task force stormed the market and randomly picked goods from shops claiming importers have not paid duties.
Goods such as frozen fish, Milo and oil have been rounded by the task force and taken away with the instruction that the traders should pay both duties and penalty before the arrested goods can be released.
“Look these are no big goods. So for you to tell me a poor woman to pay penalty of thousands of Ghana Cedis and at the same time pay for duty, is too harsh.” A trader said amid sobs.
They however accused Custom officials of corruption saying that it is these same officials who allowed these goods to cross the borders because of monies they do take from importers.
Meanwhile, a security expert and an importer in Aflao, Emmanuel Akpaloo indicated that the development is making government unpopular and that there is the need for government to look into the activities of these custom officers along our borders.
He said: “Where did those goods passed to the market. Who are at the points of entry of the country borders? The same Custom officers, so what are we talking about?”
He mentioned that although government needs revenue to develop, some officers of the Ghana Revenue Authority and Customs division are pulling the feet of government by making the NPP government unpopular to the business men and women and petty traders in Ketu South and beyond.
“I understand we need revenue to put out project and government policies implemented but this is not the case we are experiencing. There are multiple instances where these officials held secret meetings just to make NPP government unpopular by sending the local tasks force to our market here in Ketu South, Aflao, Denu, Agbozume and Afife to pick up all uncustomed goods in the market,” he added.
According to Emmanuel Akpaloo, this has never happened before in the previous administration even though they also needed revenues to develop the country, but that the previous government took steps to ensure that petty traders are not too much affected by their policies.
Some party activists who spoke to this paper were bitterly disappointed by the results and accused the NDC hirelings who are still in some top positions in Customs of running a smear campaign against government.
They also accused the Aflao sector commander of refusing to work on any transit goods coming from Team to Togo, with the excuse that government have given directives that no transit goods from Tema through Aflao to Togo should be worked on.
This development, they said is creating tension between the businessmen from Togo and their agents and that the idea by government to stop transit from Tema through Aflao to Togo would not help the two countries’ bilateral relationship.
“We advise that government should reconsider that decision so as not to lose public confidence, but rather put strong mechanism in place to monitor the movement of goods,” Emmanuel Akpaloo said.
They also called on government to deploy national security operatives into the system to monitor some of these occurrences and also called for policy engagement with stakeholders to see the best ways of handling transit goods.
Source: PROSPER AGBENYEGA