General News of Saturday, 5 January 2013
The Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has impounded about 40 articulated and smaller cargo trucks loaded with imported used refrigerators, freezers and air conditioners at the Takoradi Port pending further instructions from its head office.
The development follows the coming into effect of the ban on the importation of second hand refrigerators into the country.
This has brought about some misunderstanding between the port authorities, the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA Customs Division), destination inspectors, agents and importers of the ceased items.
Meanwhile, hundreds of containers full of the banned items have already been discharged at the port while some vessels carrying the banned cargo are waiting to be discharged of the cargo.
Owners and destination inspection companies are frustrated because they had worked on several documents covering the banned cargo. What remains to be done is the payment of duty and subsequently, clearing.
The importers and their agents are of the view that the goods arrived in Ghana before the ban came into effect on January 1, 2013 and should therefore, not have been impounded.
Presently, the trucks, full of the imported used refrigerators; freezers and air conditioners have occupied the platform used for clearing purposes at the port adding to the congestion at the port.
The Takoradi Port authorities feel that their job was to receive the vessels and keep them and their contents safe, and therefore, as far as they were concerned, there was little they could do for the importers and their agents.
The ban follows the coming into force of Legislative Instrument (LI) 1932 (2008), which bans the importation of second hand refrigerators etc because of their high-energy consumption and the dangers they pose to the environment.
Ghana is also said to be losing some revenue through energy wastage, hence the need to phase out those gadgets, which consume excessive electric power.
Old and used fridges for instance, are noted to contain Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC), a group of organic compounds containing elements including carbon, fluorine and, in many cases, other halogens and hydrogen.
Officials of the Customs Division of the GRA confirmed to graphic.com.gh that some importers had moved swiftly to pay duty on the banned cargo before the January 1, 2013 deadline.
Others are yet to pay their duty and the law prohibits any of the banned cargo from passing through the country’s port into the market.
Asked why they did not clear the goods before the deadline for the enforcement of the ban they said: “We were aware of the ban, and we were not able to clear the cargo because of the festivities and therefore, decided to clear them after January 1, 2013”.
When contacted, the Takoradi Port Operations Director, Mr Matson Ankobea, said his unit had little to do with the current situation as they were not responsible for the enforcement of the law.