Business News of Thursday, 21 February 2013

Source: myjoyonline

An overpriced box in Ghana’s ailing post

As Ghana Post battles to keep itself relevant in an era of electronic mailing, it is also faced with the challenge of phasing out corrupt officials whose actions continue to plunge the company into further distress.

At the Kaneshie Post Office in Accra for instance, can confirm acts of corruption and cover ups. Nevertheless, there is a seemingly willing attempt by the Postmaster to flush out corrupt post officials.

An investigation following a tip-off by an unsuspecting customer fixated with the personal use of a post office box has revealed how some officials are corruptly making super normal profits from the renting of the post office box.

The victim, who wants to remain anonymous, recounted how he paid 100 Ghana cedis for a box which costs 25 cedis to rent, just last year.

On the official Ghana Post receipt issued after payment, the cost of renting a post office was clearly indicated- rental 15.00 cedis; key, 10 cedis all amounting to 25 cedis.

The victim suspected foul play and decided to ask questions but the Ghana Post official, who he could not identify by name, cited administrative charges for the difference in the actual amount paid and what was recorded on the receipt.

She threatened, albeit subtly, that the box will be taken from him because dozens were waiting in a queue to own post office boxes which are already in short supply.

It is a favour I am doing for you, she hinted, even though the victim knew too well he had been shortchanged if not defrauded.

He however sought refuge in to find out how hidden administrative charges could swell, by three folds, the cost of renting a post office box.

On a return to the Kaneshie Post Office, this reporter met two women in one of the offices who were ready to take him through the procedures in renting a post office box.

“Write an application to the post master and add two passport photographs to it,” one said.

“How much does it cost?” The reporter asked, then one of the women said “it is 50 cedis and above.”

“50 cedis and above?” the reporter asked again, in apparent shock but the second lady quickly interjected, saying, “it is 50 cedis and above but it will not be up to 100 cedis.”

The shock at how officials will be ignorant about the cost of renting a box, or maybe pretended to, fuelled more suspicion.

The reporter therefore decided to get his letter to the post master and to find out how deep rooted the corruption at the place was.

On the second visit and with an application letter and two passport pictures, the reporter respectfully asked to see the Postmaster.

Even before the reporter will speak to the Post master, two officials who did not disclose their names, in a subtle attempt tried to stop him from raising the issue about the over pricing of the post office box.

They argued any attempt to raise the issue with the postmaster could put the source of livelihood of the culprit at risk.

They also pointed out that the victim may have negotiated the price with the official at the post office before the box was rented out.

So when the reporter finally had the opportunity to interact with the Postmaster, Emmanuel Osborne- Lartey, he asked him if it was the case that the price of renting a box could be negotiated.

“That is absolutely not the case. It is not allowed. If it is ten cedis, it is ten cedis. Under no circumstances should you pay more than ten cedis,” he stated.

Osborne-Lartey was hesitant in investigating the case because it did not happen under his tenure.

He said it will be difficult for him to start investigating something that happened under the watch of his predecessor but was quick to add though that when the victim comes, he will direct him to the investigations department to look into the matter.

According to him, the new fee which was approved for 2013 is now 50 cedis for private use and 85 cedis for commercial use.

He said under his tenure, it is he who supervises the the sale of boxes to customers in order to prevent acts of corruption.

He said there has been a lot of shake-up in personnel since he took office in August last year but was opened to investigating the matter.

The victim told this reporter, he has since not seen the official who defrauded him even though he has been to the post office to pick up his letters a couple of times.