By Gifty Arthur
The Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS), will soon launch a very rigorous campaign to seize all smuggled vehicles in the country and auction them, a Senior Officer of the Service, Y. Seidu, has warned.
According to Commissioner Seidu, vehicles from countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), have been smuggled into the country by criminals who often outwit the security agencies at the various borders.
He said for now, the operation is yet to be enforce and so these individuals, have a window of opportunity to go to the offices of CEPS and verify, to be in the good books of the Service before they hit the street for these smuggled vehicles.
In his words, once this great opportunity is ignored, CEPS, will give no chance as it will seize all these vehicles and auction them at cheaper prices. He described these smugglers as an individual who are “Not good for the nation”.
“If you know you are driving a car you know you are not sure of it, please come and verify. Once we identify that one, we will not penalize you. Very soon we are aware the vehicles are many in the country we will be on your heels. Once you are caught, you are not a good man for the nation; your vehicle will be auctioned.
So if you know any friend who is driving that vehicle please come and verify. You might have known it was smuggled in but you come and tell us lies we will accept it. Oh, I suspect my car we will still take your words and do it for you for now”.
My Chief Executive and commissioner, are in to ensure that we do what is right”, he added.
The senior officer who made this known at a two-day advocacy and sensitization campaign program in Accra organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, the International Organization of Migration (IOM) and the ECOWAS said due to lack of data sharing and networking, these criminals over the period have been operating in these ECOWAS countries without being apprehended.
Explaining further, the CEPS officials said ECOWAS countries are having a tough time tracing most of these smugglers because at the moment, they have no system that allows them to share data and also network to deal with them when these vehicles get to these member countries.
He said cited the implementation of the ECOWAS protocol which allows for free movement of people and goods, as one of the reasons why it has become very difficult to sometimes deal with such criminals the moment they enter into the country. He said the moment they find their way into the country, they quickly change the number plates of these vehicles and use them for all kinds of activities.
But he was sure that with time, challenges being faced will be resolved as now, the various security agencies are integrating to confront this phenomenon.
“Because of this protocol again, smuggling of vehicles to some extent has increased. they smuggle the car very Nigeria and before you realize they are in Ghana and they change the number plate because we have a change of identifying the authenticity of the registration numbers but in the long term I believe DVLA of the various countries will network to see how we will share data about the vehicles that in the countries is a challenge now”, he said.
He said had this advice for those who want to purchase vehicles “When you are going to buy a vehicle, my advice is, don’t take the hard copies please get to customs and verify the soft copies before you buy the vehicle”.
The two-day event was organized by the Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Ministry, the Economic Community of West African States and the International Organization for Migration.