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Ghana Calls On Burkina To Release Detained Truck Drivers   
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Ghana has called for the immediate release of more than 70 Ghanaian haulage truck drivers who have been detained in Burkina Faso for the past five weeks for failing to provide a loading document, popularly called “bon de chargement”, covering their cargoes.

According to the Ghana government, the release of the drivers and their trucks will ensure an amicable resolution of the impasse between the two countries.

A delegation led by the Deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Joyce Bawa Mogtari, that visited Burkina Faso last week and met with officials of that country expressed disappointment at the decision of the Burkinabe government to enforce a legislation that enjoined foreign drivers and business people to produce ‘bon de chargement’ before they could be allowed to do business in that country.

Members of the delegation, made up of officials of the Ghana Shippers Authourity (GSA) and the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), as well as officials from Ghana’s Embassy in Burkina Faso, held discussions to ascertain the state of affairs at the joint border between Ghana and Burkina Faso.

The meeting, however, ended inconclusively, as the Ghanaian and the Burkina authorities failed to reach an agreement on the modalities on documentation of transit goods from Ghana’s port into that country.

More than 70 haulage truck drivers have been left stranded in Burkina Faso since March 2016, after they were asked to pay a fine of CFA200,000, an equivalent of about GH¢1,300, for not possessing the ‘bon de chargement’.
The drivers have for weeks not been able to unload their goods in Ouagadougou for them to return to Ghana.

The document, which was introduced by the Burkina Faso government in 2015, was said to have been suspended when Ghana raised initial objections. It was, however, reintroduced in January 2016 and persons without the document are being made to pay CFA200,000 as a fine.

Ms Mogtari told the Daily Graphic in Accra that officials of Burkina Faso failed to consult the Ghanaian government on the drafting and implementation of the legislation.

Describing the legislation as an extortion, she said the visit was to express displeasure about the manner in which the Ghanaian drivers were being treated.
“We also went there to negotiate the suspension of the implementation of the decree until proper consultations are held between the two countries,” she said.

She also indicated that the Minister of Transport, Urban Mobility and Road Safety of Burkina Faso, Mr Souleymene Soulama, admitted that although his country did not consult Ghana before arriving at the decision to enforce the legislation, it was only meant to deal with recalcitrant business people.

The Corporate Affairs Manager of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, (GPHA), Mr Paul Asare Ansah, addressed the haulage truck drivers at the border and assured them that the government was doing everything possible to ensure their release.

“The GPHA and the government are doing everything possible to address the bottlenecks which have come about as a result of the reintroduction of the legislation,” Mr Ansah said.
The drivers who shared their frustrations with the delegation also highlighted how they had been left at the vagaries of the weather since arriving there in March this year.

“Apart from the constant harassment we face from the Burkinabe authorities, we have no decent place to lay our heads at night,” the drivers told members of the delegation.
Ms Mogtari presented an amount of $4,000 to the drivers who were already in Burkina Faso, as well as those stranded at the Paga and Dakola borders, towards their upkeep.
Source: Daily Graphic

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