The Commissioner of Police (COP), Mr Timothy Yoosa Bonga, Northern Regional Police Commander has urged Police Officers on the country’s roads to desist from acts of extortion that tend to inflate prices of foodstuffs and other agro-inputs on the markets.
He said, “If you unnecessarily delay the movement of cargo transporting food items and or collect some money from traders transporting food items, the traders will factor that into the prices of the foodstuffs and you or your wives will go to the market and buy them. So, the traders have a way of retrieving the money from you. Therefore, stop demanding monies from them on the roads.”
COP Mr Bonga made the call at a workshop dubbed: “Awareness creation and strategy building seminar with the Security Services in improving the Ghana food systems”.
The day’s seminar, organised in Tamale by the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) with funding support from Oxfam in Ghana and International Budget Partnership, was on the role of stakeholders in ensuring efficient distribution of agro-inputs and outputs to and fro urban centres to farming communities.
The workshop, attended by senior Police Officers, and players in the agricultural and transportation sector, was also to sensitise stakeholders on the highways on their roles in improving trade transactions and measures to reduce smuggling of subsidised fertilizers to improve the country’s food system.
A research by PFAG found the activities of the Ghana Police Service, other security agencies, and drivers on the highways contributed considerably to delays in food distribution, leading to post-harvest losses and smuggling of subsidised fertilizers.
Stakeholders at the workshop including drivers, farmers, and traders in farm produce amongst others cited too many barriers stopping vehicles on the highways, illegal fees exacted irrespective of documentation, delays amongst other challenges as resulting in loss of perishable produce as well as contributing to post-harvest losses and demanded a lasting solution to improve transportation of food items and agro-inputs in the country.
The Police on the highways provided security for goods and drivers, checked waybills, roadworthiness of vehicles, smuggling amongst others.
COP Mr Bonga said in spite of the laudable roles played by the Police on the roads, “The Police administration has received series of complaints with regard to delays at Police checkpoints on the transportation of farm produce from one end to the other. Among some of the issues include unprofessional conducts by some of our men, extortion etc.”
He spoke about the crucial roles played by the Police on the road to promote trade facilitation and emphasised that, “Our men must, therefore, ensure that they perform their functions efficiently without compromising the security of the nation.”
He also called on transport operators and owners of goods to ensure that they abide by the contents of the rules and regulations governing their trade on the roads, and said, “They must ensure that their trucks are roadworthy, and have all the required documentation as far as the vehicle and the driver are concerned.”
He reiterated that “The Police Service will not renege on its duties in ensuring the free flow of agricultural goods and services but without compromising the security and safety of the nation.”
Dr Charles Nyaaba, Head of Programmes and Advocacy at PFAG suggested operational strategies for consideration by the Ghana Police Service for efficient food distribution in the country and called for the institution of one designated barrier per region on only major corridors with the powers and mandate to check cargo vehicles with minimum criteria and stoppage time.
Dr Nyaaba called for special dispensation to be given to trucks loaded with perishable food items to move unimpeded, as well as violations by drivers be dealt with only after the food had been offloaded.