The Corporate Marketing and Public Affairs Manager at the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, Paul Asare Ansah has disputed some claims in a section of the media that the port authority is responsible for the influx of banned underwear into the country.
According to him, the port authority cannot be blamed for the practice because customs together with some state agencies like the Ghana Standard Authority have been mandated to check the influx of banned products into the country.
“It’s not the responsibility of GPHA to determine which item is banned and therefore stop its importation. It is customs that plays the role of the gatekeeper. They are tasked with the responsibility of stopping the importation of items that are banned. We are only advised that this container contains banned items and we help them to segregate and help them to impound it,” he said.
Mr. Ansah revealed that the port authority only provides handling services to all goods that pass through the port.
“As to which one is banned, which one is prohibited, which one must not land, we have the security services, we have customs preventive, we have the BNI, we have the national security. They, Ghana Standards Authority and others, they are to advise which product should not enter the market,” he said.
Contrary to reports that the scanners are managed by the port authority, he said that cannot be true because the scanners are managed by the Ministry of Trade and other agencies.
Eye on Port also spoke to the Ghana Standards Authority to ascertain why they are unable to enforce the ban on used underwear and braziers that come through the port.
The Public Affairs Manager of the Ghana Standards Authority, Kofi Amponsah Bediako said the used underwear and brazier were banned for health reasons “because if these items are used by people elsewhere and you also use them, they can be a medium of transmission of diseases so basically it is for health and safety reasons and that was why that law was passed years ago to ban it,” he said.
He, however, said the authority is putting in place measures to curb the entry of prohibited items but the country’s borders are porous.
He called for collaboration between regulatory agencies so as the nib the practice in the bud.
“We need the collaboration of all these organizations. Once we are all serving the country, we need to rigidly collaborate with each other and make sure that we enforce the law to the letter so that the health and safety needs of the people of this country can be met,” he noted.
He regretted that the scanners at the ports are unable to detect the banned used underwear when they come through the port.
“You can pick a few items, wrap them or tighten them and then put them in bigger things like the coat or jacket and still be pushed through. When they are detected by the scanner, they may be seen as some other items not underwear and that is how some of them still continue to come in,” he said.
Eye on port also visited Kantamanto market where some of the banned used underwear are believed to be sold.
Some traders and patrons of the used underwear said they prefer that to the new ones because they are durable.
“The used brassies and panties are not infected with any disease. They are also quality. I have been selling them for the past 31years. I have never found any problem with them,” a trader said.
“I don’t remember the last time I wore a brand new bra. It has this metal in it, with time it just bends in a way and starts piercing you so, I don’t know, I just don’t like it. For the used ones, some of them have this cotton feel, they are unique, they have some pretty nice colours and mostly they last longer than the brand new ones,” a patron of used underwear told the news team.