From Issah Alhassan, Kumasi
A MASSIVE programme is underway throughout the country to clamp down on illegal car registration syndicates and vehicles imported into the country without passing through the proper channels.
The Anti-Leakages Revenue Monitoring Team from the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), in collaboration with personnel from the Customs Division of the GRA and the Ghana Police Service, has begun moves to identify and confiscate all vehicles plying the road without proper registration documents.
The move, according to the authority, was to eliminate car registration cartels in the country, and to recover all revenues which have gone down the drain over the years, as a result of evasion of import duties.
The team embarked on a two-day operation in the Kumasi metropolis, where a number of vehicles were impounded, after being identified to have either been illegally registered, or brought into the country without paying the required imported duties.
Chassis numbers and other identifications on some of the vehicles impounded during the two-day operation were found to have either been tampered with, or the numbers inside the front door did not correspond with that on the engine.
Some of them were also found to be over-aged vehicles which had been sneaked into the country without paying the appropriate penalty.
Among the fleets of vehicles impounded included taxis, private cars and commercial vehicles.
Ironically, some of the vehicles confiscated were found to belong to military men and police officers, who did not have proper documents.
The Head of the team, Mr. Thomas Mills, told The Chronicle in an interview, that the exercise was a comprehensive one adopted to discover the rootcause of car smuggling, and to break the empire of car registration syndicates which have over years deprived the government of huge revenue.
He said the practice adopted by these registration cartels were that most of them managed to import the cars into the country, and with the connivance of some licence officers, register these cars and use them without paying anything to the government.
Others, according to him, manage to alter the chassis numbers of new cars to suit old existing vehicles, and use their licenses to drive, thus avoiding the payment of duties.
“What we have decided to do this time around is to tackle the rootcause of car smuggling, and break the operations of syndicates in the country. By this, we hope to raise enough revenue for the government, and also remove all unworthy vehicles on our road,” he stressed.
Mr. Mills said the exercise would not only help raise enough revenue for the country, but would also ensure maximum security on our roads.
“What happens, is that because these cars do not have proper documents covering them, or because they have multiple identities, it is very difficult to identify them when they are used for criminal activities or when they are stolen,” he noted, and expressed the optimism that the exercise, which was ongoing across the country, would eliminate all forms of thievery and illegalities in the car business.
The head of the team indicated further that all personnel and individuals who would be found to have aided in the illegal registration and importation of the vehicle, would be severely dealt with.
According to him, the exercise had received the wide approval from the government and the Ministry of Transport.
He explained that the GRA decided to involve the security apparatus, especially, the police, so that they can all appreciate the need to help in the fight against car syndicates in the country.
Mr. Mills further stated that he held a meeting with members of garage and car dealers association in the metropolis, and explained the nature of the operation to them.
“We have made the car dealers to understand that they must be vigilant in their business, and not to allow themselves to fall prey to the dubious activities of these illegal cartels,” he emphasised.