Lizzy Sasu (LS) of GH-Aviation had a one on one chat with the public relations officer (PRO) of the Ghana Immigration Service regional command at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA), Assistant Superintendent (ASI) Barbara Sam (BS) on challenges some travellers face at the airport.
L.S: Is there an immigration law on how to treat first-time travellers?
B.S: There is no law differentiating first-time travellers from seasoned travellers. First-time travellers must be treated like any other traveller. Every traveller is treated the same as long as they possess the right documentation to travel with.
According to the Immigration Act 573 section 4 and 12, the below are the conditions for entry and departure.
Conditions of Entry into Ghana
Subject to this Act where an immigration officer is satisfied that a person other than a citizen is entering Ghana:
- Is in possession of a valid passport or other travel document and a valid visa to enter Ghana where applicable;
- Is exempted from obtaining a visa to enter Ghana;
- Has his name endorsed upon a visa and is in the company of the holder of the visa;
- Has applied and been granted an emergency entry permit; or
- Is a person admitted to diplomatic status by the Government of Ghana, the immigration officer may permit that person to enter Ghana for a period that may be specified.
Conditions of Departure
Subject to this Act where an immigration officer is satisfied that a person leaving Ghana:
- Is not a wanted person;
- Is in possession of a valid travel document;
- Has a valid visa to enter the country of destination; and
- Is not in arrears of payments of fees or penalty to the Director, the officer may permit that person to leave Ghana on completing the prescribed form and endorse his passport or travel document.
All travellers who are able to satisfy these conditions can travel without any issues from immigration officers.
L.S: What's the plan for the Ghana card as an ECOWAS document of travel?
B.S: Per ICAO regulations, all travel documents must be endorsed, i.e., they can stamp and write on them but the ECOWAS CARD is non-endorsable, which is why it is not accepted for travel. Secondly, implementation is yet to be initiated though most member states have signed unto it. Also, logistical and other technological systems have to be put in place as well.
L.S: How can travellers report an officer if they need to?
B.S: Travelers can contact the immigration public relations office at the airport or the Ghana Airport Company Limited client/customer service desk at the arrival or departure halls to report any concerns or grievances. Travellers must always take note of the name tags of officers that attend to them. Travel agents/ stakeholders are also encouraged to report on immigration-related issues at the airport. You can also call the PRO on 0299330886 for the same.
L.S: What steps are taken against officers who extort money from travellers when reported?
B.S: The immigration service has measures in place to penalize officers who indulge in negative acts if found culpable. Such officers go through the immigration disciplinary processes. And if found culpable, punishments may include, withdrawal from station, transfer and at worse summary dismissal.
L.S: What’s required from travel agents when sending groups out of the country?
B.S: Travelers must have the right documentation, i.e. passport, visa and any other documentation required for travel. The agent should ensure that first time travellers do not pay money to any official at the airport because there is no law backing the collection of money from passengers who are travelling for the first time.
In conclusion, “I want to tell the travelling public that, immigration officers stationed at the Kotoka International Airport are very professional. It’s unfortunate that people have had bad encounters with some of our officers but I can say for a fact that officers stationed here are very professional and know what to look out for and whatever we do, we do it under the armpit of the law”. To people travelling, “the Ghana Immigration Service is here for you, you are the reason why we are stationed here. So, should you meet any challenges please don’t hesitate to report it to the appropriate quarters and I’m very sure your problems will be addressed to your satisfaction” – said Barbara Sam.
The PRO, Barbara Sam, has clearly stated that all immigration officers at the airport are professionals and she is confident that they will discharge their duties accordingly.
For complaints or redress, kindly call the PRO on 0299330886
Know the rules and travel safe