The Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) has stated that the auctioning of uncleared cargo is a worldwide phenomenon to discourage importers from making the ports and its area a dumping ground or storage facility.
Mr Mohammed Nasurudeen, the Tema Sector Commander of CEPS, who announced this, said the practice was carried out to decongest the port and that expired or unwholesome goods would be destroyed.
He was speaking at a press conference at Tema to explain the circumstances that led to the auctioning of personal effects that were in a 40-footer container imported by an unknown person, which has attracted criticisms from some members of the public.
Regarding the drugs and other unwholesome food items that were in the container, Mr. Nasurudeen said they were yet to be destroyed, explaining that the items got to that bad state because of delay in clearance.
He said CEPS did not take delight in selling goods because it had a core function to assess, collect and account for taxes on imports and exports.
Mr. Nasurudeen said "CEPS's task becomes very difficult when consignees abandon their goods in the port because much effort is required to secure the goods" and urged importers to clear their goods soon on arrival at the port to prevent inconveniences to both CEPS and consignees.
He, however, said CEPS has been dealing very leniently with importers by allowing more time for them to clear their goods.
Mr Nasurudeen said ideally when goods were imported into the country the law requires that they are cleared out of customs area within four days on its arrival excluding Sundays and public holidays or deposited at the State Warehouse.
He said CEPS was compelled to auction goods if after 14 days notice of publication in the Gazette or in the national dailies the importer does not turn up.
According to Mr Nasurudeen in this particular case, the 40 footer container number TRIU 9483469 was listed as uncleared cargo and deposited at the State Warehouse on August 19, 2006.
He said it was said to contain 473 pieces of total relief goods and consigned to the "W. A. AIDS Foundation" but since then no consignee approached CEPS to claim ownership of the goods.
Mr Nasurudeen explained that as a result of the delay in clearance, the other items were auctioned in public on March 22, 2007 after CEPS had exhausted all avenues to get the consignee while the expired drugs were yet to be destroyed.