Milking the State …airport immigration officers ‘pocket’ visa on arrival cash

Ghana Airport immigration officers at the arrivals section of Terminal 3 at Kotoka International Airport have devised a way of extorting money from foreign nationals who arrive at Terminal 3 to receive their visas on arrival, as they take money from them without issuing a receipt.

An instance is when a South African, who arrived in Ghana at 11:31 on Thursday, October 24th with Ethiopian Airline’s ET 921 from Addis Ababa, was asked to pay cash when she opted to swipe her visa card to make payment.

With a state-of-the-art project like the newly inaugurated Terminal 3, one has to ask why immigration officers would reject a visa payment by a visitor and opt for cash when such devices are available to them at the payment counter.

“I told them I don’t have cash so I want to swipe my visa card to make payment; they said ‘no’, I should go and withdraw money from the ATM.

“I asked myself why they would refuse visa payment and ask me to go all the way to withdraw money to make payment when I can do that with my card, because I checked the payment options and I realised visa payment was accepted.

“They became very unfriendly toward me when I insisted I pay with my visa card since I do not have any money on me at the moment. They insisted I go to the ATM and withdraw money. The first ATM I tried to use wasn’t working, so I came back to tell them and they called another guy to take me outside the security checkpoint to use the one there,” she told the B&FT

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She said after coming back to make the cash payment she stood there to collect her receipt, and they refuse to issue her with one.

“They told me I can’t have a receipt. I didn’t want to insist on that because I was scared they could revoke my visa, because they were all together in that: from the one who stamped my passport and the one who takes the cash. They were communicating in their local language and I didn’t understand what they were saying.

“So now instead of the GH¢800 (US$150) they returned GH¢300 to me so I would stop complaining, then I took the GH¢300 and left because they were emphatic that I wasn’t getting a receipt,” she added.

She said they directed her to pass an unapproved route so she would not encounter any official who might demand an explanation or whatever.

Terminal 3 at the Kotoka International Airport was constructed at a cost US$250million, which is to be repaid by government at an interest 5 percent

Some of these illegal activities by airport officials to prevent the state from mobilising resources and make it difficult for government to repay its debt to creditors.

It is very prudent that management of the airport put structures in place to check some of these revenue leakages, as they go a long way to slow development of the company.

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