Barely months after Ivorian rebel incursions into Ghana across the border in the Bole District, another set of incidents, this time, purely from an economic angle, have revealed just how lax security at our international borders are.
Information reaching The Independent portrays mass smuggling of motorbikes across the borders wit Burkina Faso into the Upper East Region. That criminal act, The Independent learnt, gets great boost from the high demand motorbikes enjoy in the three northern region as a cheaper and more egile means of mobility.
According to our sources, the smuggling of motorbikes is so rampant that it is constantly tasking the preventive skill of the Upper East Region staff of the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS), who pursue these deviants even when they have been successful. Two weeks ago, on May 5 therefore, the CEPS command in the region organized a sweep in the Bolgatanga municipality to find and confiscate motorbikes that have no duty papers on them, to compel the owners to pay up the duties on them into state coffers.
"We confiscated 56 motorbikes in that operation, which is the second we have organized this year," said the CEPS Sector Commander, Upper East Region, Anthony Sewor. The first was in last February, he disclosed in a telephone interview, adding, "we do these operations in conjunction with the military from time to time." The smugglers, according to Mr Sewor, use all kinds of dubious means to achieve their goals. While some bring in the motorbikes, some of which bear funny names like Mapouka, branded with fake Ghanaian number plates, others, out of sheer bravado, simply ride the bikes across the border when they feel the CEPS officials are not looking.
A source told The Independent that the monotonous terrain of the Sahel Savanna where our border lies makes the activieis of these motorbike smugglers so easy. Mr Sewor confirmed that, adding, "all the smugglers need to do is approach the border at any point far away from the CEPS/military post, usually at night and they have an easy ride into Ghana." "Sometimes these smugglers bring in the motorbikes and on few occasions cars and trucks that bear foreign number plates," he told The Independent. By ECOWAS protocol such number plates could be used here for 30 days before the permit could be renewed but these smugglers quickly take off the foreign number plates, put on fake ones, sell the vehicle quickly and abscond.
According to sources, the CEPS/military officials conducting the operation simply go to town stop all motorbikes and demand the registration papers on them. The inability of the rider to produce the papers results in confiscation of the bike.