Ghana Immigration proposes special ID cards for border communities
Ms Elizabeth Adjei, the Director of the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS), is suggesting that residents around the country’s borders should be given special identification cards to reduce the time they spend in going through immigration processes.
Making the suggestion in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Wednesday, she said this would help ease tension between officials of the GIS and host communities.
Ms Adjei said the special identification cards for residents of the border areas should be done within the context of the national identification system.
“We have had discussions with them (National Identification Authority) on this. In fact, this is standard practice elsewhere…This is to give them a special card that they will use to cross the border.”
Making particular reference to the Ghana–Togo border, she said the Ghana government, in collaboration with the Togolese government, had constructed a pedestrian border crossing point to ease traffic on the main border to reduce challenges confronting the border community.
Ms Adjei said the pedestrian crossing, which is about half a kilometre from the main border crossing point, was agreed at a bilateral meeting with Togo to ease passage for border residents.
The passage, which was constructed by the 48 Engineer Regiment of the Ghana Armed Forces, would likely be inaugurated next month.
“We strongly believe this is going to be very, very important to border residents who will not have to be competing with trucks, importers, foreigners and other people using the main border crossing,” the GIS boss said.
Ms Adjei said these measures would greatly reduce tension on the border between the community and security agencies.
She urged communities along the border to live in harmony with personnel of security services since they were at post to protect life and property and facilitate socio-economic development.
“We acknowledge that the management of a border is about the management of people, but we also need to protect the integrity of our borders,” she said.
“As for the Aflao border we are really applying the laws with a human face,” she said in reaction to last Friday’s shooting incident at the border.
On October 22, a taxi driver was allegedly shot by a security officer at the Aflao border, which enraged the youth of the town to go on a rampage attacking personnel of the GIS.
The case is with the police who are investigating the incident, although GIS is conducting its own investigations. The taxi driver, who was pursued, is said tom have used illegal, unapproved routes.
Ms Adjei described the Aflao border as unique, saying it was difficult to control because of the physical environment and the fact that it was situated next the capital of another country.
She noted with concern that “the community people see security personnel as intruders”.
“Aflao is a unique border, different from the text book definition. It is one community, which shares the same culture and which has been subjected to a political demarcation.
Ms Adjei said: “The people hardly acknowledge this demarcation. It has a no ‘no man’s land’, and it is next to a capital. This presents a lot of sensitive challenges to the maintenance of order by a frontline agency like GIS.
“But there is no acceptance of security services from the community and it is difficult to negotiate the fine line of security and the expectation of unfettered access by the public.”
However, the GIS chief explained, the security services had to do their job without any hindrance from the public, “even though we acknowledge that their economy is linked to activities at the border”.
Ms Adjei noted that the security agencies at Aflao had serious challenges since they were working in an environment where the people on both sides of the border were integrated and drawing a line between them was difficult.
She said their job was to deal with cross-border problems, such as checking infiltration and intercepting items that were injurious to the country. However, the security agencies were not against the people.
Ms Adjei advised the public to support and collaborate with the security services in their bid to protect them while admonishing the personnel to be sensitive to the dynamic nature and characteristics of the Aflao border.
She called on the chiefs and opinion leaders in the area to support the work of the security services.
Ms Adjei said they would engage with the chiefs and opinion leaders to explain to them that they were at post to protect their personal security and safety, as well as their social and economic well-being so that they were not exploited by other people.
“Managing borders is about managing people and, therefore, in spite of the authority and discretion given officers by law, we are very sensitive to the dynamics and characteristics of the situation,” she said.
Ms Adjei expressed her gratitude to allied services such as the Ghana Police Service and the Ghana Armed Forces for the solidarity they exhibited during the incident.