Police advised to end harassment and extortion on transit corridor

Executive Secretary of JAPTU, Ibrahim Musah speaking with Eye on Port

The Ghana Police Service has been called on to as a matter of urgency eliminate the incidence of unnecessary police checks on transit truck drivers using the transit road corridor in order to facilitate transit and regional trade.

Transit cargo handled through Ghana’s ports in 2019 alone was one million, three hundred and sixty-three thousand, eight hundred and ninety-two (1,363,892) metric tonnes, generating greater revenues for the nation.

Speaking on Eye on Port, some stakeholders in the transit trade suggested that the Ghana Police Service should do all it can to readjust its activities toward transit trucks in order to complement interventions by the port industry players to attract some significant business into the Ghanaian corridor.

“We think the police service can do a greater job in making sure that their efforts complement the bigger investment agencies like GPHA and GSA are making into opening our ports, and educating stakeholders to grow traffic,” said Executive Secretary of the Joint Association of Port Transport Union (JAPTU) Ibrahim Musah.

He disclosed that the many police checkpoints on the corridor and accompanying harassment and extortion have made the corridors expensive for transit business.

“We have had several reports on the issue of checking cargo which has been used as an opportunity to harass, extort and create unnecessary delays,” he bemoaned.

He questioned the intent behind numerous police checks on transit truck drivers on the corridor, and expressed that the police are capitalising on petty to zero situations of infraction to create opportunity to harass hauliers.

He noted that the GPHA load-worthy initiative inside the port is an additional security intervention in addition to road-worthy checks by the Drivers and Vehicle Licencing Authority, hence some of the checks done by police are needless.

Ibrahim Musah said initial efforts made by the then IGP and his high ranking police officials failed because there is a disconnect between the policy initiative at top-level and implementation on the ground.

“You will find it difficult to understand why a police officer cannot understand a directive that is as clear as what was stated by the then-IGP,” he continued.

Also speaking on the same platform, the Burkina Faso Chamber of Commerce Representative in Ghana, Sherif Ouedraogo, called for a drastic reduction of police checkpoints to facilitate movement, as a significant level of security has been initiated through collaborations between the Customs, SIC and his outfit to safeguard goods and drivers as soon as clearance is done through the ports.

“We have a contract already with Customs, and with SIC who give all the documentations to Burkina Faso Chamber of Commerce to clear the goods,” he said.

Mr. Ouedraogo added: “I agree that security is important, but we have to reduce the checking points to facilitate movement across the corridor”.

He proposed that security interventions by the Ghana police across the transit corridor be like those practiced in Burkina Faso; they are not stationary but run patrols in the protection of lives and properties.

“We have security who move and do not stay at one place,” he indicated.

Adding his voice to the calls for an improvement in police activity on the corridor, Frank Oppong, the Project Logistics Manager at Jonmoore International – a haulage company specialised in out of gauge cargoes, said haulage companies should endeavour to ensure drivers engage in appropriate safety practices in order not to become vulnerable targets for police extortion.

“Drivers should be educated. If they are in the right personal protective equipment, for example having seatbelts on, no police can harass them,” he advised.

He also advised stakeholders to rely on monitoring schemes available to track trucks and cargo movements.

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