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Opinions of Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Columnist: Kwateng, J.F.

GIAL Passengers’ Refunds Is Taking Too Long

As the 2012 general election approaches, Ghanaians living abroad are planning to go back home and vote. As every voter is being targeted by the political parties, the race is getting hotter. Apart from uncompleted roads, good drinking water, environmental cleanliness, in recent weeks, calls for Mills Government to refund Ghana International Airways passengers their monies have grown louder.

Imagine, going to a shop to buy the latest video game for a child, money is collected and a receipt issued to the payee to collect the parcel. If the shop has run out of the video game and no chance of any in future, the only option is to take the receipt back to the cashier and collect money back. It doesn’t need a genius to understand the principle: it takes a buffoon not to. Money should be refunded because no service or goods been exchanged.

It is much the same with airlines business. Ghana International Airways passengers paid money to travel agents and were issued with tickets which were never used. Mills Govt debated, approved refunds and authorised Ministry of Transport to settle all passengers’ claims.

Why then is it taking nearly two years to refund Ghana International passengers their monies? The three-men committee set up to handle the refunds decided to pay all monies to the “main authorised travel agents” who had contracts with the suspended Ghana International Airways Limited when it was formed, thereby ignoring the “sub travel agents” and the poor passengers. At the time of going to the press, the refunds have not reached the pockets of the GIAL victims.

In United Kingdom, passengers who buys tickets from airlines that go out of businesses, get refunds from either administrators or ATOL (section of UK Civil Aviation Authority ) within three months at most. It’s not an intellectually demanding procedure: insolvency staff or civil servants don’t need multiple PhDs to understand it: they need only not to be idiots. Passengers complete forms and send to ATOL or the refunding organisations and individual cheques are issued to the victims.

What should Mills and his Ministry of Transport do now? From hindside, the transport ministry officials might have wish they have done the refunds differently but it is not too late. They should meet the travel agents who received passengers’ refunds and iron things out. The passengers have suffered for too long and Mills Administration has moral and legal responsibility to refund their money as quickly as they can.