The Customs, Excise and Preventive Service has expressed concern that Ghana is increasingly becoming a destination for stolen vehicles from across the world.
A statement issued by the CEPS in Accra over the weekend, and signed by Annie Anipa, Assistant Commissioner for Public relations said, "The practice was unfortunate and must stop”.
The statement noted that there were several instances where vehicles discharged at the ports had been found to be un-manifested, with most of them usually concealed in containers together with other goods and personal effects.
In line with these occurrences, the CEPS have put in place measures for the clearance of vehicles with effect from April 1, 2007.
As part of the measures, all vehicles that arrive at the ports or entry points un-manifested would be seized as mandated by law. This would also apply to vehicles in transit or trans-shipment as long as they are un-manifested.
Also, upon seizure, CEPS would carry out thorough investigations in liaison with other security agencies, especially INTERPOL, Ghana and its international partners.
The investigations would among other things, establish the make/model of the vehicles, the chassis number, country of origin/manufacture, certificate of title, other documentary proof of ownership or possession of the consignor or exporter.
The statement said during the period any vehicle is being investigated, the importer or consignee would not be permitted to apply to the master of a carrier or its agents to amend the manifest unless the CEPS Commissioner specifically allowed it.
It said where it was established at the end of investigations that the importer or consignee was titled to clear the vehicle; he or she would be permitted upon written application to amend the manifest subject to payment of pecuniary penalty before clearance of the vehicle.
The statement further said, if investigations established that the vehicles was stolen or its importation tainted with fraud, such vehicle would be treated for re-exportation under the supervision of CEPS and INTERPOL Ghana, and upon application by an interested party or complainant who may be liable for any incidental expenses.
It said such re-exportation might only be done where the Ghanaian authorities receive a written application to that effect within a period of not more that three months after conclusion of investigations, or any extension thereafter not exceeding one month.
An applicant requesting for the re-exportation, whether an individual, authority or institution, would be required to bear all expenses or charges that would be incurred.
It said where no application for re-exportation was received at the expiration of the prescribed period, the vehicle would be deemed abandoned, and accordingly, would be forfeited to the State and disposed off in accordance with Law and the laid down procedure.
The statement emphasised that these measures would be additional to all normal customs clearance procedures already in place for clearing vehicles from entry points.