The Marine Port and Railways Command of the Ghana Police is currently investigating circumstances surrounding the disappearance of some ten 20-footer containers of canned tomatoes from the port of Tema during a transfer process to gazette the consignment.
The Marine, Port and Railways Police took over the assignment, when the Tema Command of the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) notified them of the disappearance of the containers which were being escorted from the premises of the Tema Container Terminal (TCT) to the Atlas Terminal, near the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), by officials of Customs and National Security operatives at the port on Thursday, May 30, 2019 when they were allegedly diverted.
“In the process of transferring the containers from TCT terminal to Atlas, the officer in charge did not do his work well, and under his supervision, the cargo disappeared,” the Tema Sector Commander of Customs, Dr. Godfred Okoh-Appiah said.
The containers which was being handled by CMA CGM shipping line arrived at the port in September 2018 and were said to have overstayed, leading to the confiscation of its contents by the state for onward processing and auctioning.
The consignment was labelled “Nhyira Tin Tomatoes” and placed on Uncleared Cargo List (UCL) after it had overstayed its clearance period by 261 days, for which reason a decision was taken to transfer the containers to the Atlas Terminal for authentication and gazetting. This process was to prepare the consignment for auctioning to defray an import revenue of about GH¢714,000.
“So far all containers have been identified by Customs and the Police. While the security team were able to retrieve some of the containers, the others had their content already sold. We traced 5 of them in Kumasi where 4 had already been impounded by customs, and 5 in Accra,” a Crime Officer at the Marine Police & Railways Unit, Superintendent Charles Asare updated.
Some officers of the Customs Division of the GRA, including the escort officer, one Alex Frimpong, and national security as well as those who bought some of the stolen goods have been arrested pending investigations by the Marine Police Unit at the Tema Port.
Customs has since instituted tough measures including suspending all transfers of over-stayed goods at the Port and reviewing of allocation and auctioning processes of over-stayed goods.