The Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) has urged the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to strictly enforce its regulations banning the importation of some used products into the country.
It said the enforcement should be done at the various entry points of the country to help eradicate the importation of used products such as mattresses, underwear and fridges that have been classified as banned goods.
A statement from the GSA reminded all importers and the general public that the Legislative Instruments (L.I. 1586) of 1994 and (L.I. 1693) of 2001 which placed a ban on the importation of some used merchandise were still in force.
It said the reminder had become necessary following a Daily Graphic investigation which uncovered that the Jubilee Terminal at the Tema Port had become porous and a safe haven for the smuggling of used mattresses.
“By this announcement, the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) is put on notice to strictly enforce the law at all the entry points,” it said.
According to the GSA, LI 1586 covers the Imports and Exports (Prohibited Goods) (No. 2) Regulations, 1994, and states that: “No person shall import for commercial purpose or in commercial quantities any of the following goods which are second-hand or which have been used – handkerchiefs; men, women and children’s underpants; mattresses and sanitary ware.”
The LI 1586 also states that, “A person who imports any goods contrary to the regulation above commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding GH¢500,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or to both, and the goods in respect of which the offence was committed shall be liable to be seized and forfeited to the state.”
Additionally, L.I. 1693, which covers the Export and Import (Prohibition of Importation of used LPG cylinders) Instrument, 2001, indicates that, “In exercise of the powers conferred on the minister responsible for trade under sections 12 and 13 (a) of the Export and Import Act, 1995 (ACT 503), this instrument is made on this day of July 2001.
“Prohibition of importation of used LPG cylinders. The importation of used Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinders is hereby prohibited.”
The Daily Graphic found out that senior customs officials normally secured import licences for importers who smuggled used mattresses under the guise of importing vehicles, spare parts and brand new mattresses.
After getting the licences for the importation of cars and spare parts from countries such as South Korea, United States of America and Canada, the importers, through the aid of the GRA officers, divert the original use of the licence to be able to indulge in the dark trade of importing these banned mattresses.
The mattresses are concealed in either cars or spare parts in shipping containers.
When these consignments arrive at the Tema Port, officials from the Customs Division of the GRA who are part of this scheme but in charge of preventive services at the Jubilee Terminal of the Port grant permission for the banned goods to be transported onto the market without any interference.