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General News Fri, 14 Feb 2020

Massive anger at Ghana Immigration Service

Impeccable information picked up by The Herald, indicates that all is not well with the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS), as officers in Accra, are outraged over a decision by their bosses to set up a private clinic on the premises of the GIS national headquarters, compromising security arrangements, as well as risking their health.

The establishment of the private health facility, has also affected some senior officers and their subordinates. They have been dislodged from their offices, and important documents on the movements of foreigners, as well as Ghanaian nationals in and out of the country, have been thrown out into the open.

The impairment of work in some of these departments as a result of the setting up of the private clinic, has led to questions about the security competence of the Comptroller-General of GIS, Kwame Asuah Takyi and others heading GIS.

The Herald’s information is that the GIS boss, Asuah Takyi, has even decided to relocate some sensitive departments at Block B to C for the expansion of the facility called; St John’s Clinic, to give the managers of the facility, who are not GIS officers, more space to do their business in the state-owned security building.

This has left some GIS officers, questioning why the state security apparatus, will allow its premises to be used by a private firm, to run its profit-making business, while inconveniencing the work of the officers in the manner that they are witnessing.

They also questioned, why the clinic is named “Ghana Immigration Clinic” since it is a private clinic built in 2017, with its main facility at Achimota in Accra.

They will also like to know, if the Ministry of Interior led by Ambros Dery, which has supervisory responsibility over GIS, is in the known of the presence of the health facility inside the headquarters.

It was revealed that, the clinic has since consumed sensitive departments such as the Quota Department, Free Zone Department and the Permanent Residents Department.

The departments, have been crammed together into some cubicles in Block C, and their documents dumped in a corner somewhere.

The Herald, further gathered that 90 percent of the officers, who were made to move from the three departments, work in an “open veranda” and the “staircase”.

Aside the lack of space, the presence of the health facility, has also compromised the security of personal files belonging to expatriates and all foreign nationals that apply for work permit.

There is fear that the way the classified and sensitive documents had been thrown out in the open exposed and unprotected, may lead to identity theft.

“All the displaced departments have to relocate and at present, 90% of staff of the three departments that have been displaced and are now working in the open veranda and the stair case leading to the various floors of Block C, because the cubicles given to them, can only contain 10% of the staff, their filing cabinets, tables and chairs”, this paper learnt.

“All their files, cabinets and records have been dumped haphazardly all over the floor and the corridor of the veranda making their work difficult because they are unable to classify and arrange their files in an orderly manner”, this paper gathered.

“Officers see this as a very serious impediment and disregard for the sensitive nature of the work of Ghana Immigration Service especially because, these records are personal data of expatriates and all persons that apply for permits. Classified and sensitive documents of all foreigners and expatriates are now left unprotected, exposed and prone to identity theft in this era of cybercrime.

Files, which have been arranged in certain serial order for easy identification, have now been mixed up in “Ghana Must Go” bags, scattered and dumped all over the place”, the officer lamented.

The general feeling among GIS officers is that of disappointment and discomfort, but they are unable to oppose or come out openly, because of the rules governing the Service.

The Herald’s visit to the GIS Headquarters a fortnight ago, confirmed the presence of the health facility. It was also noted that there was some work underway. It is, however, unclear who is paying for the work.

But attempt by the reporter to visit the clinic which stares one in the face the moment one enters the premises, to gather additional information, was unsuccessful as she was told, “It is not opened to the general public”.

There are, however, several questions on the lips of the GIS officers concerning how the services of the clinic was procured, whether or not it met the procurement laws and also who fixed the fees being charged by the clinic, since fees by GIS are approved only by Parliament.

Some officers, were also surprised why the clinic has been located inside the GIS headquarters. They had expected the facility to be completely detached from the headquarters like the 37 Military Hospital and Police Hospital in Accra.

Their argument is that with that arrangement, there should not come into contact with any disease conditions which might be contagious.

But information from the GIS is that per the new arrangement brokered by the Comptroller-General of GIS, recruits into GIS Training school pay Ghc600.00 for medicals, while foreigners, pay a flat fee of Ghc900 for medicals; a requirement for their resident permit applications.

The arrangement, appear to be more for the money from GIS recruits and foreigners in search of work permits.

From the details given, it is as though, Comptroller-General alone or with the help of a few others, used their discretion as there is no check, accountability, revenue control mechanism and others in place.

“This is private arrangement between the Comptroller-General and the owner of the Clinic and not accountable to anybody but themselves”, some of the insiders said, and disclosed that hitherto, revenues paid to the Service, were received by Prudential Bank, but under the current directive, revenue generated, is received by the provider, the Clinic.

“What are the internal control measures to prevent revenue leakage at the Clinic?” the officers questioned.

This paper was also told that “Officers are angry about this decision because the mandate of the service is being sacrificed to please a private clinic” and to private financial interest of the some individuals.

“Foreign nationals, scattered across the country from Wa, Bawku, Takoradi, Elubo, Afloa and many other places, are now required to seek their medical report; a requirement for application for permit, in Accra. They can no longer seek this report at their base unless they move southwards before this service can be rendered, not minding the cost and the inconvenience it may bring”, one officers told The Herald.

“The inconvenience and the cost of this directive to the clients of the Service, is anybody’s guess”.

Again, medical examinations which hitherto were conducted at premier hospitals like Korle-Bu, 37 Military, Police Hospital and all other competent institutions are invalid except the ones from St John’s Clinic at the GIS headquarters.

There are reports that the GIS leadership, has signed a long-term agreement with St John’s Clinic, meaning the Service’s interest has been mortgaged for several years.

Source: theheraldghana.com