GRA Justifies High Penalty For Overstayed Transit Vehicles

| Updated Nov 11, 2017 at 4:34am


Library file/Port cars


Photos by/GBC's Isaac Asare
The Ghana Revenue Authority, GRA says current charges slapped on overstayed transit vehicles is punitive enough to discourage undue delays by truck drivers on the country’s exit points.

Last month, the Customs Division of the GRA imposed a new penalty from five Ghana cedis to 1,000 Ghana cedis on transit vehicles that exceed the 7-day traveling time to reach their exit stations.

Since the directive, various unionize groups under the authority have questioned the justification of the astronomical increase but the GRA insist the move is justifiable as it forms part of measures to sanitize the transport sector and to reduce cost and time.

Speaking on the sidelines of a Roadshow for Haulage Truck Drivers in Paga, a Revenue Officer of the Rapid Deployment Team of Customs, George Enchil encouraged truck drivers to always seeks assistance from custom officials when in need.

Over the years, the country has recorded relatively low figures of checkpoints and bribe along its major transit corridors but delays still poses a major challenge thus resulting in high cost of transport charges.

Apart from vehicles breaking down on the way, some cargo drivers flout the 7-day traveling period and cause undue delays so much that perishable goods gets rotten inside containers.

In real situations, delivery deadlines are not met and this sometimes incur needless expenses.

In an effort to halt the trend, the Customs Division of the GRA has imposed heavy fines on truck drivers that spent more than the required days after moving from the Tema transit yard to any exit point.

A directive to that effect was issued on October 1, 2017 by the Commissioner of the authority, Isaac Crentsil.

However, the directive have since been met with agitations from haulage truck drivers who insist the penalty be reversed to the initial five Ghana cedis which they noted is quite astronomical and could affect their transport business.

The agitation was clearly amplified during a road governance roadshow held at Paga in the Upper East Region.

In an interview with Ghana today, a Revenue Officer of the Rapid Deployment Team of Customs, George Enchill justified the imposition of the new penalty stressing that the move is to discourage diversion whiles ensuring timely and safe arrival of goods.

Mr. Enchill noted that it was not for nothing that government ordered the removal of custom barriers on highways across the country.

The rationale, he indicated was to create a common market for free flow of goods and people within the sub-region, therefore truck drivers have no excuse to delay consignment.

According to him, haulage drivers in their own wisdom always try to outsmart custom officials forgetting that every activity on the road is being monitored electronically.

Whilst cautioning drivers to adhere to rules and regulations governing transit trade, Mr. Enchill charged the leadership of the transport unions to educate their members on the do’s and don’ts in the transport business.

There is never a day without seeing a faulty haulage truck being parked along highways.

Drivers of such faulty vehicles end up paying penalties for spending more days on the road.

According to Mr Enchil, drivers in charge of broken down vehicles and those involved in accidents are required by law to report appropriately to the nearest customs offices in order to be exempted from any penalty.

Meanwhile, the Ghana Shippers Authority says it is working in tandem with the customs division among other relevant stakeholders to address barriers that impede trade facilitation.

It says the process of transit cargo clearance at the ports will be made easier and safer so as to ensure timely and safe arrival of goods.

This was made known at a day’s governance roadshow for haulage truck drivers at Paga.

The CEO of the Ghana Shippers Council, Madam Benonita Bismark who disclosed this in a speech read for her assured transit shipping service providers of their commitment to providing quality services to facilitate trade in Ghana. The event was on the theme: ‘Promoting Ghana as a gateway to Regional Trade: Keep Goods and People Moving’.

It was jointly organized by the Ghana Shippers Council and Borderless Alliance with support from the USAID and the West Africa Food Markets which is a business support project geared at increasing food production, processing, and storage as well as marketing of staple crops through cross border trade.

In attendance were various stakeholders in the transit business including personnel of the Motor Transport and Traffic Directorate of the Ghana Police service.

Story by Isaac Asare/GBCONLINE