Passport Office Wahala

There comes certain times in a country when certain corrupt acts and practices must be stopped with all the seriousness that they deserve. Sometimes I wonder why we still cannot get it right when it comes to the acquisition of passports in Ghana. Just visit any of the Passport Offices in the designated locations such as Accra, Ho, Sekondi-Takoradi, Kumasi and Tamale and tell me your observation. I have been to the Passport Offices in Accra, Takoradi and Ho and my observations so far will come from the Accra office and Ho office.

Is it not a basic right for every Ghanaian to acquire a Ghanaian passport? I happen to be in need of a passport, so I bought a passport form at a bank in Takoradi and filled it with the necessary information attached with the necessary documents. Since I went back to Accra, I deemed it necessary to submit it at the Passport Office. But my hopes were dashed when I got there at exactly 8am only to be told by the security man that I should have been there before 5am to be given a number for the submission of my forms. I asked myself, who reports for work at 5am in Ghana? He told me that they attended to only those who were given the numbers by 5am on a daily basis. Surprisingly, he asked me to give him GhC1000 he could help fast track the process. I declined that offer and walked away with my hopes dashed. I also observed some people standing at the entrance and calling applicants just to illegally help them acquire their passports. I heard these were the Goro Boys and they had their connections inside the Passport Office. With this experience, I resolved never to go back to the Passport Office in Accra. A friend advised me to submit my forms at the Passport Office in Ho. Guess what happened when I got to Ho?

The situation in Ho was nothing different as when I got there, I had to ask the officials at the Passport Office what I was supposed to do concerning the processes I was to go through. I submitted my forms and was told to sit down and wait. That seemed like eternity for me. Little did I know that some applicants were condoning corrupt acts there by putting money in their forms when submitting their forms. Those applicants were called within the shortest time though they came to meet some of us at the place. I waited for more than 3 hours before I was called and finally went through the process with some of the Immigration officers openly asking for money from me and some of the applicants. This was also going on at the biometric registration section of the Passport Office. I was left dumbstruck by the stinking corruption going on there. There was a notice pasted there that warned applicants from dealing with any of the immigration officers but I observed some of the applicants were going contrary to this directive.

Questions for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

How can we develop as a nation if Ghanaians have to go through a whole lot of frustrations before acquiring a passport? What happened to the much touted online passport application process? Is it really working? Are the staff not paid their monthly salaries? Is the Director of Passports aware of the corrupt acts going on there? Is the Minister of Foreign Affairs aware of these blatant acts of corruption going on at the various Passport Offices throughout the country? Is it also true that there is only one printer for the printing of passports and it is in Accra? Why are there no biometric machines or devices in all the regional capitals but only in Accra, Ho, Tamale, Takoradi and Kumasi? Why are there still Goro Boys at the Passport Offices? Why should we grease peoples palms before we acquire passports after buying the passport forms? This nonsense must stop as soon as possible because some of us are fed up to the neck about the stinking corruption going on at the Passport Offices. #GhanaMustWorkAgain #StopCorruptionAtThePassportOffice #MinistryOfForeignAffairs #GhanaiansDeservesBetter


The Search For A Greener Pasture Turned Sour

Kafui Saga was a 26 year old gentleman from Adaklu in the Volta Region of Ghana, who had just completed his first degree at the University of Ghana, and was very anxious to secure a job just after his National Service at that same institution where he served as a Teaching Assistant at the Economics Department. He used to have long chats with his friends who had relations abroad and the picture they always painted made it look as if America and Europe was overflowing with milk and honey. He also got the impression that once you got to Europe or America, life will be very easy and one will make a lot of money and send some back to his or her relations back home in Ghana. From the moment he completed his National Service, Kafui made up his mind to travel abroad through fair or foul means. He already had a passport so he started making enquiries on how to get the other traveling documents.
One of his friends introduced him to one of the so called “Connection Men” who told him to pay an amount of money before he gets the other documents for him. Kafui was told by the “Connection Man” to bring an amount of 10,000 Ghana Cedis to cater for all his travelling documents. He was now left in a state of uncertainty as to how he was going to get such an amount of money. Kafui decided to steal his mother`s gold jewelry. He quickly rushed home knowing very well that his mom was not around as she had travelled out of town. He opened the closet and took out the jewelry set. When he opened the box, he could not believe his eyes. Now realizing that the treasure he had just picked could solve his problem of traveling abroad, he had to think fast. He had to create a scene to make the room look like thieves entered and scattered everything before taking the valuables. Kafui did exactly that and promptly called his mom on the phone to inform her of what had happened in the house. His mom just could not utter a word, she was shocked and surprised as thieves have never made her house a target. She calmed down and decided to take it cool. She even went further to ask Kafui if he was okay and he responded in the affirmative.
Kafui quickly called the “Connection Man” and told him of the new development. They agreed to meet at a restaurant in town and finish the deal. He wrapped the jewelry box in a black polythene bag and headed towards the venue for the meeting knowing very well that his dreams of traveling abroad was about to be fulfilled. Since he was not an expert in the precious minerals trade, he could not determine the value of the jewelry in his possession and he was prepared to do anything just to lay his hands on his traveling documents. He met the man, and he requested for Kafui’s passport so that he could process it together with the other documents. Kafui then gave him some of the jewelry and promised to make the rest available only if the man was able to process his documents. He then returned home after they agreed to meet again in a week’s time. That night Kafui could not sleep as he kept thinking about the jewelry he had given to the man. He was not sure if the man was fake or real but prayed to God that this could be the real deal. His mom called the next morning to inform him that she have to extend her stay in their hometown by two weeks due to some family issues that had come up, and since she was the eldest in the family, she has to see to the resolution of those issues before she comes back home. He made up his mind to inform his mom when the time was up for him to leave abroad.
As agreed, Kafui met the man after one week and he was given his passport back together with all the other documents intact. He also gave the man the rest of the jewelry. His ticket was also included in the envelope containing the documents. Little did he know that his visa was just for six months and not the two years he had asked the man to help him acquire. He also did not have a place to lodge when he arrives in the USA. Kafui only realized those anomalies when he got home. He then tried to contact the man on his phone but he had switched off the phone. He was to travel in a week’s time. He became a bit scared and several thoughts were running through his mind. What if the man had duped him and was only pretending to help him secure a visa to travel abroad? Or maybe his mobile phone had low battery and it has gone off? But, despite all his fears, Kafui still had the belief that the man will surely bring him his documents for him to travel abroad. He was just about to call the man on his phone for the tenth time when the man called to inform him to give him the good news. He was about to scream and shout with joy but realized what his neighbors might think was happening to him. Kafui heaved a sigh of relief and both agreed the next day early in the morning for Kafui to pick up his visa and other traveling documents. The next morning Kafui was up early and was in a happy mood as he went to meet the man. The man kept his promise and met Kafui and gave him the documents. He thanked the man and they parted ways.
Kafui decided not to inform any of his friends about his traveling abroad. He wanted to surprise them by calling them when he eventually settled. He started packing his luggage and other relevant items he might need when he got to the USA. He was to travel in a week’s time and he had to make sure that everything was intact. The next day Kafui went to meet his friends and he behaved as if everything was normal and he did not tell them anything about his impending traveling abroad. He also decided to inform his girlfriend, Afi on the day of his departure and he started imagining her reaction, which he knew would be that of shock and surprise. Though she would be happy when Kafui informs her, she would still be thinking about how lonely she would be. Afi might also think that once Kafui got settled and started work, he will forget about her.
On the day Kafui was supposed to travel, he called his mom to inform her about his traveling plans. His mom was surprised to know of her son traveling abroad. She enquired from him his source of funding for the journey, Kafui lied to his mom that he had to save most of his National Service allowance and also borrowed some from friends with the promise of paying back when he started working abroad. His mother wished him well and advised him to be very careful when he finally got to his destination abroad. He went to Afi’s house on the day of his departure and broke the news to her, she was shocked and surprised and made Kafui promise her that he would not forget about her. Kafui also promised to eventually come back in a few years time to perform the necessary marriage rites and make Afi his wife and life time partner. Afi could not hold back her tears as she hugged Kafui for the last time. He was to be at the Airport in two hours time to go through the departure formalities. Afi wished Kafui well, told him to take good care of himself and as he left, she had a feeling deep in her heart that she was seeing her sweetheart for the last time. She looked up to the sky and prayed to God to make Kafui’s journey and sojourn abroad a success.
Kafui was all smiles as he headed towards the airport to board his flight to the USA. He got there two hours to his departure time and went through all the check in formalities an hour later. Nothing illegal was found in his luggage and he went through smoothly. As he boarded the plane, he started having some feelings of guilt about the lies he had told his mom. But deep down in his heart, Kafui knew that he will have to tell his mom the whole truth one day. He wanted to do that when he was finally settled in his new home, the United States of America.
Fortunately for Kafui and all the other passengers on board the Delta Airlines flight that left Accra’s Kotoka International Airport that night, it was a smooth journey with no hitches. They landed safely seven hours later at the John F. Kennedy Airport, in New York and went through the arrival formalities which also went on with no problem. Now he had to look for accommodation at any of the nearest hotels. He had heard that most of the hotels closer to the Airport were very expensive, so Kafui decided to go out and find a cheaper place. He got one and it looked like a run down motel but had the inscription “Sundew Hotel” boldly written on a big metal plate in front of the building.
Kafui checked in and paid a few dollars to stay there for one week. He planned to leave there after locating any of his numerous Ghanaian friends resident in the city, and then try to find a job. He first unpacked his luggage in his room and lied on the bed to take a short nap, since it was a long flight from Ghana to the USA. The next morning Kafui decided to take a walk around and explore his new environment. He was amazed as to the manner in which the area was well planned with well paved streets and no rubbish heaped around but rather dustbins placed in front of each house and no indiscriminate parking of cars. He also observed a police car with two cops patrolling the area. They moved in his direction and stopped right in front of him. He told them he just arrived and also where he was staying. They told him to be careful since some criminals in the area would try to coerce him to be a drug peddler for them. They gave him a phone number he should call any time he was in danger and needed help. Kafui thanked them and continued his walk.
As he continued down the street, two men were watching him, but Kafui did not notice them. These men were the drug kingpins in that area and no one dared to cross their path. The police were always at their wits end any time a crime occurred in the area as they knew the names of these two criminals but found it very difficult to arrest them any time they embarked on an operation in the area. The two men had an informant within the Police Department who always gave them a head start any time a swoop was about to take place. This always hampered the efforts of the police in arresting criminals in the area. The men noticed that Kafui was new in the neighbourhood and wanted to use him for drug peddling. The men rushed unto Kafui and introduced themselves as the “Owners” of the streets in the neighbourhood. They asked Kafui to pay some amount of money to them or instead sell their drugs for them. He told them that he had to think about their proposal. They then left him and Kafui continued his walk down the street.
Kafui was just about to cross the street when he heard someone mention his name, he turned around and saw one of his former class mates, Kwesi Baafoe. This came as a surprise to him. They shook hands and both told their stories. Kwesi Baafoe was a waiter at one of the popular pubs in that part of the city. Kafui asked if he could get a job there and Kwesi told him to expect a phone call from him the next day. Apparently, Kwesi’s boss agreed to hire Kafui and he was to be on the night shift. Kafui was overjoyed when his phone rang and Kwesi told him the good news. He was to start work in two days time. The name of the pub was “The Eagle’s Nest” and they had clients coming from all walks of life frequenting the place and patronizing their services. A live band played every Friday night and this attracted more people to the pub. Security at the “Eagle’s Nest” was very tight on Friday nights and it was seen as one of the safest and most secure entertainment venues in the city.
Kafui was to take orders from clients and serve them. This meant that he was to serve as a waiter at the pub. On the day he was to start work, Kafui put on his best suit and polished black shoes. He was at the pub at exactly 6pm as his friend, Kwesi was ending his shift. They all walked into the manager’s office and Kwesi introduced Kafui to the manager who was very much pleased to have him on his staff. Kwesi was a very hardworking person and the manager had the belief that Kafui would also follow Kwesi’s example. When they left the manager’s office, Kwesi adviced Kafui to work hard and not to do anything untoward that would mar his reputation at the “Eagle’s Nest”. Kwesi also warned him to beware of unruly clients who come there just to cause confusion. If such a thing should happen, Kafui was adviced to report it directly to the manager who will either call the police or ask the security men around to escort the unruly clients out of the pub. Kafui thanked his friend and went straight to the counter to take orders for some clients. Kafui was also adviced not to force clients for tips. If they dont give him, he should just go on with his work. He was to be paid $5 per hour and the night shift ended at exactly 11:30pm. The distance from Kafui’s hotel to the pub was just some fifteen minutes walk and he could also take a cab if he had money.
Kafui’s first day at the “Eagle’s Nest” was a very pleasant and uneventful one. He went about his work in a dignified manner, smiling at the clients and quickly bringing them their orders. He was getting tips with from every client he served and Kafui could not hide his joy and excitement as he made a total of $100 in tips alone on his first day at work in the “Eagle’s Nest”. That night his boss offered to give him a lift since he was going the same way. In the car on their way home, both did not talk much as they were very tired. He thanked his boss and in return promised to pay him at the end of the week his full wages for the number of hours he would be working. They exchanged pleasantries “goodnight” and “bye bye” and both departed. Kafui entered the hotel and picked his key from the reception as the receptionist for the night shift was fast asleep but the two security men stationed at the entrance were wide awake and on alert. He entered his room and said a prayer thanking God for the day, took a shower and went to sleep.
The next morning he decided to call his mom. They had a long phone conversation. It was then that Kafui told his mom the truth about the missing jewelry. His mom was silent on the phone for thirty seconds as she felt very bad about what her son had done. But she was quick to reprimand him and also forgave him. Kafui then promised to make it up to his mom as he believed and felt that he would make more money and replace the jewelry for her. His mom wished him well and prayed to God for his life. He called Afi, his girlfriend and had a romantic chat with her, telling her of all the wonderful plans he had for her. They talked about the good times they used to spend together and tears started streaming down Afi’s eyes. Kafui could feel it deep within his heart that Afi was feeling lonely. Afi was just like a sister, lover and mother to Kafui and he wanted to spend his life with her. Both of them started imagining how married life would be like. Staying under the same roof with the same person, and taking decisions together. Afi did not know that he was hearing Kafui’s voice for the last time. They said goodbye to each other and ended the chat.
Kafui decided to go to work early the next day. He wanted to go to the pub an hour earlier. He left the hotel by 3pm and started his walk to the pub. He had money on him and if he knew that he was going to be attacked on his way to work that evening, he would have boarded a cab to work. As he walked down the street the dogs started barking at him, so Kafui decided to quicken his steps. Just as he got to another turn, a car with tinted glasses passed by and he could not see the occupants. This made Kafui break into a run down the street. As he looked back he realized that the car had turned around and was coming after him. He started wondering what he might have done to the occupants in the car for them to be chasing him. Little did he know that, those people in the car were in the business of stealing the organs of immigrants. This was a very lucrative business as those involved in it were doing it illegally and they had so many people involved in the business. There were doctors, policemen, nurses and even hospital administrators who were involved in forcibly removing the kidneys and other organs of the unfortunate immigrants. Kafui was just going to be another victim and it was just a matter of time before they caught up with him.
These victims were left to die on the streets after their organs have been removed. Most of them were illegal immigrants who were homeless and had no papers to ensure their stay in the country. As Kafui increased his pace down the street, the car was still coming in his direction. Little did he know that he was heading towards a dead end down the street. By the time he realized his terrible mistake, it was too late. He was now in a very tight situation and the car was parked just across the street and it blocked the view of any person coming from the opposite side of the street. He decided to scream, but that part of the city was known for its high crime rate and no one dared come out at that time of the day to help people being mugged or robbed off their valuables.
Three men came out of the car with one carrying a syringe and a knife like object. The other two rushed on Kafui and knocked him down, he started to scream but it was quickly muffled by the hands of the men. The one carrying the knife and syringe, apparently a doctor got down on his knees and started to work on Kafui. Within a short time, they finished removing Kafui’s kidneys and placed it in a container with ice in it. He was then stitched up and left dazed on the street. The men quickly got into the car and drove off without anyone coming to the aid of the unfortunate victim whose organ has just been stolen. Kafui lay down on the street bleeding to death.
The next morning, Kafui’s body was discovered on the street by a man who was jogging. He quickly informed the police who came to the crime scene and picked the body away. What made it worse was that Kafui’s boss was reluctant to report his absence from the pub for two days but he informed his friend Kwesi Baafoe. Kwesi then decided to look for Kafui by himself. He was able to find out that his friend had been killed by some people who were involved in the illegal trade in human organs. They were supposed to go to the morgue and identify the body after making a formal complaint to the police, but his boss was afraid that his business will be closed down as Kafui was not having a work permit before he employed him.
As sad as it was, the death of this undocumented immigrant will go uninvestigated and he will either be buried in an unmarked grave or his body will be cremated and he will be lost forever. Kafui will just be one of the many undocumented immigrants who have died as a result of their quest for greener pastures abroad. These organs are harvested and sold at a very high price with the recipients not knowing where they came from. They are always willing to pay any amount for the organs as they will do anything to survive.

It Is An “Animal Farm” World In Ghana.

Image I did not want to wade into the current situation in our dear country, but for sometime now sadness has engulfed my heart and it seems i can’t be mute and look on while our leaders and politicians rob our nation in the name of democracy, hence my decision to write this piece. As i write this article, i feel we have totally lost it as a nation since those we elected to our legislature and the government seems to be very insensitive to the plight of the masses.Do we understand democracy at all? Why should democracy be used as a tool by our politicians to empty the nation’s coffers? Since the beginning of this year, several groups of government workers and unions have threatened to lay down their tools, and some have actually carried out their threats. Mention could be made of the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), Tertiary Education Workers Union (TEWU), University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG), in fact the list is endless. It seems whenever a group threatens to embark on a strike action, that’s the moment you hear of the Labour Commission and the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission. So what are they being paid for? Why wait for the situation to get out of hand before you try to find a solution to it? In my opinion, these two institutions mandated to look into the emoluments of workers are not working, but rather sleeping on the job. Now back to the substantive issue of Ghana now being turned into an “Animal Farm”. I am still baffled as to why workers go on strike over unpaid allowances and salaries, then the government comes out to tell them that there is no money in the state coffers, but the government is able to pay the exgratia of parliamentarians. It seems we have two classes of human beings in Ghana currently, and the “Animal Farm” method is being applied here. Four legs good, two legs bad. So ti means that some groups of people are more important than others. With this mentality, do you think workers would have sympathy for the government? My answer is a big NO. Why the special dispensation for the so called “Article 71” office holders which includes parliamentarians, the Speaker of Parliament, the Chief Justice, President, Vice President etc etc? Now every educated young man or woman is being tagged as a thief by our folks from the rural areas, because the rural folks toil for the economic sustenance of the country, but end up not benefiting. Why do you build a “Cocoa Clinic” in Accra which is not a cocoa producing area, whilst the cocoa growing areas lack even a basic health center? In my opinion, we have lost it as a nation and until we get a leader who would be sensitive to the plight of the masses who don’t have access to health, water, electricity, education, good roads etc, we would continue to live in this “Animal Farm” world.