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Clearing Agents Frustrate Importers At Tema Port   
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If there is any group of persons performing dishonorable acts against importers and the government, then they are Freight Forwarders, popularly called ‘Clearing Agents,’ at the Tema Port.

As the security agencies, especially the Custom Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the Ministry of Trade and Industry among other stakeholders, continue to pursue policies that would be friendly to importers, the clearing agents are constantly devising means to fleece same.

The latest modus operandi of the clearing agents that has been uncovered by The Inquisitor is that they intentionally delay the clearing of goods, especially vehicles, and later turn round to claim ownership after demurrage has affected the items.

The Inquisitor investigations revealed that, the clearing agents are quick to claim ownership of vehicles and other items after they have been confiscated by the state.

Hitherto, importers had 60 days to clear their goods from the port or had them impounded after the mandated number of days, but now it has been extended to 120 days.

As part of reliefs for importers, they are always offered the first option to buy their items confiscated by the state when they are unable to settle the necessary bills to clear their goods.

Feeling uncomfortable with this fairness of the state, the clearing agents deliberately delay the clearing of items till the period that they are confiscated by the state.

It is instructive to know that clearing agents for importers always handle the Bill of Lading, which is the most important document for the clearing of goods from the ports.

It was uncovered that some unscrupulous clearing agents after getting hold of the vital documents would then start playing games with the importers.

Months of investigations by The Inquisitor also revealed that most victims of the clearing agents are importers domiciled outside Ghana.

With the original Bill of Lading, ownership of the items that are confiscated would not be in contention and that is where the clearing agents fleece unsuspected importers.

A highly placed source at the Tema Regional Police told The Inquisitor of numerous cases involving clearing agents that have ripped off importers.

Interestingly, the police and other security agencies are not able, in most of the cases, to prosecute because ownership of the imported items is settled with the person who has the original Bill of Lading.

The source said that clearing agents are having a field day; especially when the importer is domiciled outside Ghana and does not have enough time to stay in Ghana.

Clearing agents have always been at the forefront to ruin efforts by the government and other stakeholders to come out with policies that would offer relief to importers.

They have over the years succeeded in pitching importers against various governments because of the fear of being pushed out of business.

The clearing agents are well noted for the secret activities at various ports and points of entry in connection with the payment of appropriate taxes to the state.
Source: The Inquisitor

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