Border Town Drivers Smuggling People Into Ghana Amidst Covid-19

The Ghana Immigration Service is reporting the emergence of trade in the cross-border smuggling of persons into the country after Ghana closed her borders Sunday night, as part of its response to the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

Deputy Comptroller General of the Ghana Immigration Service, Mr. Laud Kwesi Afari, this morning told journalists at a briefing on the coronavirus response that local drivers at the Aflao border town are the main perpetrators.

“We have also noted that transporters in the local communities in the Aflao area are aiding people to enter. 12 Okada riders were arrested yesterday for attempting to smuggle persons across the border. They have been arrested and we are discussing with the Police how to prosecute them possibly. The motorbikes have been impounded.”

“From the Sogakofe inland border post, 5 persons have been intercepted. A Ghanaian, a doctor who also flew in through Lome and entered illegally was intercepted there checks on his passport revealed that he had flown in from The USA,” the Deputy Comptroller said.

He warned that the smugglings are not treachery against the rest of the country alone but also against the local communities and the drivers who perpetrate them because if the deadly coronavirus spreads out of control, everybody will be at risk.

According to him, the Aflao border continues to be a hotbed for the cross-border smuggling into the country because Ethiopian Airways is continuing to fly to Lome after Ghana closed all her entry points, including land, sea and airports.

“Ethiopia Airlines continues to fly to Lome, so we are watching that border post very closely. Because that is where we are seeing the tendency of persons breaking through, and significantly this Ghanaian is a medical doctor, we expected him to know better. The other two are Ivorians. They all hired vehicles at the Aflao border and were moving to Accra. The drivers in the vehicles have also been arrested and they are all being sent into mandatory quarantine and thereafter the issue of prosecution will be considered.”

But Aflao is not the only border town which has been engaging in the smuggling of people into the country in circumvention of the closure of the borders. The country’s border at Elubo, he said, is witnessing the same kind of treachery.

This morning alone, he said 21 persons had been arrested attempting to enter Ghana illegally from Cote d’Ivoire. “5 Ghanaians, 9 Beninois, 3 Nigerians, a Malian and 3 Ivorian. They have been sent back but the Ghanaians have been retained and are being sent into mandatory quarantine.”

Mr. Afrifa, however, reported that the country’s Northern borders are firmly shut with Immigration patrol officers having a comparatively firmer control over the closure, with attempts by some Nigerians and Burkinabes to enter the country stopped.

President Akufo-Addo last Saturday, announced the closure of Ghana’s borders to all human traffic as part of the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Subsequently, the country’s borders closed on the midnight of Sunday

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