Smuggling of used mattresses persists at Tema port

BY: Kester Aburam Korankye
Smuggling of used mattresses persists at jubilee terminal
Smuggling of used mattresses persists at jubilee terminal

Graphic Online can report that shipping containers loaded with used mattresses have arrived at the Jubilee terminal of the Tema port and are currently being carted away in trucks.

The Graphic Business on January 9th this year reported that a scheme comprising officers at the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and rogue importers are taking advantage of a lousy import ban on used mattresses to ship the product through the noses of law enforcers into the country.

Buoyed by the hot demand for the product and the high returns, the smugglers, mostly importers of cars and spare parts, have managed to develop strong ties with some customs officers, National Security officials and Ghana Port and Harbours Authority (GPHA) security officers to help make their activity conducive.

A Graphic Business investigation uncovered that the Jubilee Terminal at the Tema Port had become porous and a safe haven for this illegality although the customs division says smuggling has mainly been made through undesignated entry points on the country’s borders, mainly inland.

As a result of the indulgence of the security officials in the smuggling syndicate, our reporter observed during the undercover investigation that, piles of mattresses arrive in shipping containers daily at the terminal and are subsequently cart away in mini trucks without any resistance from the security officials.

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Beyond flouting the ban, the influx of the used mattresses through the Tema Port denies the country billions of Ghana Cedis in revenue, as importers are not charged duties on the import of the banned product.

The government, through a Legislative Instrument (LI 1586) of 1994, placed a total ban on the importation of used mattresses and other used products from entering the country, citing health concerns.

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The ban on used mattresses was also meant to allow local manufacturers to gain access to a larger market and expand their operations to create jobs for the unemployed.

However, importers of used mattresses are rather benefiting from the ban and are making huge profits from sales because they don’t officially declare the items and thereby skip payment of import duties on them.