The government has been asked to probe the abuse of the Customs Act 2015, Act 891, by some Customs officials at the country’s two main ports, following the seizure of goods over delays in clearance.
A Takoradi-based general equipment Importer, Abdul Fatau Razak, who made the call, told Citi News that the abuse of the Customs Act has resulted in the near collapse of his business after some customs officials connived with a client to clear three cranes, which Customs earlier claimed it had confiscated.
Mr. Razak said the client, GKL Construction Company, has since made attempts to pay the arrears for the goods but has defaulted and currently cannot be located.
Abdul Fatau Razak, Director of Business Port, told Citi News, some Customs officials aided GKL Construction, which approached Business Port to import three cranes from its partners in China, to clear the goods without paying them in full, although Customs had allegedly confiscated the cranes which is worth $156,0oo.
“I am the Ghana agent for a Chinese firm. An order was made by GKL Construction Company in September 2013 to import three set of cranes. The total cost was $156 ooo, and they paid 70 thousand dollars with the intention that when the goods arrive in Ghana, they will pay the balance. When the goods arrived at the Tema Port, GKL Construction told my partners to change the Bill of Laden so that they can have an exemption on duty to be paid.
“My partners refused and informed me, because of this; GKL delayed the goods at the Port. When the balance was not coming, my partners told me to take the Bill of Laden, so we clear the goods together so that they take part of the goods to cover their initial payment and give us the rest, they refused that too. So my partners changed the Bill of Laden into my company’s name, which is Business Port Limited, to clear the goods from the Port. As I was trying to clear the goods, GKL connived with some customs officers and managed to clear the goods which were at the time bearing my company’s name. ”
The Customs Act 2015, Act 891, first expects the clearance of imported goods within seven days after it has been offloaded. Failure to clear attracts detention by the Customs, but an importer can still clear within 21 days after paying rent and other penalties.
In default of the 21 days, the goods are seized and gazetted for auction, but within 21 days of the Gazette, the importer can petition the Commissioner, pay appropriate penalties to get the goods cleared.
It is in line with this Act that Abdul Razak, says some customs officials are abusing it and hurting Ghanaian businesses.
“I petitioned the Customs, and they told me that the goods were auctioned. I did not believe them, so I asked the agent who took the goods out of the Port and who was the auctioneer. They were unable to reveal to me, so after some investigations later, the customs officer in charge of auctioning told me that the goods were not auctioned, but that it was one Colonel Asem who said they should say that the goods were seized and auctioned. I put all in the hands of the government to do something about it. The government should look into these Customs confiscation. ”
Mr. Razak said he is still pursuing GKL to pay the arrears of the 51 thousand Dollars.
“They told me the goods were with GKL and their new Managing Director. One Ali assured me he would pay the money and agreed to pay 9 thousand dollars to me because they had already paid 70 thousand dollars to me. So he paid some of the money remaining 51 thousand dollars, but now I cannot hear from Ali again, and even if you call him, he doesn’t pick the phone.”
Citi News has tried to reach GKL construction for their response to no avail.