Some officials of the Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), have been accused of scheming to steal twelve containers, loaded with items belonging to a Ghanaian, who deals in cranes at the Tema Port.
According to Abdul Fatai Razak, a 61-year-old resident of Takoradi, the containers he imported from China in 2014, has been emptied and the cranes transferred into other containers with schemes being role out to sell the cranes to persons believed to be cronies of some CEPS officials, including ex-CEPS Commissioner, Wallace Akondor.
In an interview with Citi News, a visibly worried Razak, who was virtually in tears over the matter, lamented that he was asked to pay GHc450,000 as clearance fee for the goods, but when he was ready to settle the bills his cranes were gone. But he surprisingly discovered that the various parts had been hidden in other containers and about to be sold.
“The old CEPS commissioner told me they have auctioned the twelve 40-footer containers. The twelve containers have the parts that make up three sets of cranes. Four containers will give you one set of crane. When the new commissioner came, I went to him to inquire why they have to auction my goods without me or the shipping line or my agent present and he told me the goods are in their system, they have not auctioned it, yet they say my goods cannot be found at the port,” he said.
He appealed to President John Mahama to help him, as well as stop the corruption at the ports, saying “those people want to spoil his work”.
He continued that “my checks at the port showed that the cranes have been removed from the original container to different ones and sold to different people without my consent.”
Narrating his ordeal to Citi News, Mr. Razak, lamented that the containers were supposed to be cleared by a company in Accra called, GKL, but they were unable to make payments of $156,000 to his Chinese partners for the importation, hence the delay in clearing the goods.
He said due to this, the containers were left at the port for some time and “I visited my partners [in China] they told me that those people don’t want to pay so they are changing the documents in my name.”
“So when I came to Ghana, I visited the port, inquired about the containers, the amount they asked me to pay, I could not pay. They were asking me to pay GHc450, 000. I consulted the bank and they agreed to assist me. During that time, [when the bank was processing my loan], Customs wrote a letter to PIO shipping line [couriers] that they are going to auction the goods. This prompted me to write a letter to the Commissioner of CEPS, Mr. Wallace Akondor. The letter was written in November 2014. When the letter went to him, I followed up and he said he’s not going to release the goods because he has seized them and asked me to leave his office.”
“Later I was told by my agents that the containers have been emptied. I went in again last year and wrote to the new commissioner because the former commissioner had been removed. He promised to look into the case. I later was told that the goods had been cleared by some agents where PIO, the couriers were not informed.”
Disgruntled Abdul Fatai Razak continued that his checks showed that the containers were given to twelve different people saying “it’s a fishy deal. They sold the twelve containers to twelve people which cannot be correct because four containers make one tower crane. When you buy one as an individual, what will you do with it because you need four containers in order to have one set of crane.”
“When I inquired again, I realized that the goods were not auctioned, but they were set aside. Upon that I went in further and they told me that the goods were still at the port and that some people have come to pay duty on 12 containers of cranes. I said those containers were mine. My investigations showed that my goods had been put in different containers. My investigations further showed that the people were making arrangements to take the containers out but have been unsuccessful.”
Mr. Razak, is calling on the government to investigate the matter and help him retrieve his goods, adding that “I think it’s something they’ve been doing for a long time, if not, how could they take 12 containers, stealing them at once,” he queried.
Many Ghanaians, who have in one way or the other, engaged the services of the two main ports in the country, have complained about corruption, which in some cases have led to the disappearance, diversion or the auctioning of goods unjustifiably.