Kotoka International Airport, Ghana’s only international airport, is getting a facelift and it’s beginning to show. From the new “visa on arrival” desk to the expanded arrivals immigration hall and luggage pickup carousels, the much-needed renovation project, which apparently started in 2014, is helping ease some of the congestion travelers experience through the port of entry. As they say however, beauty is only skin-deep. What about the other, more arduous surgery? The one that expunges memories of power plays and solicitation by airport officials and staff, saves the country millions of dollars, and securely establishes Ghana as the gateway to West Africa it claims to be? When does that work begin?

Stepping off the plane around 8:30pm on June 16, 2016, I was tired, but happy to be home. After days of dreary, cold weather in Germany, I didn’t mind that I had walked right into a travel guide or blog post: the balmy, hot Ghanaian air rushing to envelope itself around me while the unmistakable hint of salt danced about. As myself and the other passengers were transported by bus from the aircraft to the arrivals door, I caught a glimpse of bright lights in the distance: the very lights guiding workers through the night as they worked on constructing the new airport terminal. Terminal 3.

Only moments earlier, a KLM crew member had announced over loudspeaker, “Photos and videos on the airport premises are prohibited”. This is a first, I thought to myself, before shrugging it off. Maybe they want to keep things under wraps until the official unveiling, I reckoned – to offer a pleasant surprise to those who have yet to see the renovations.

Having already filled my arrival form, it took me five minutes to get through passport control and make my way over to the carousel. It would take another 30 minutes before my suitcase came into view. While waiting, I checked the Uber app periodically to see whether there were any cars in the vicinity. I finally found one as I placed my luggage on the airport stroller and headed towards the exit: it was five minutes away. After putting in my request, I continued towards customs control, bracing myself for the usual questions: “What did you bring me?” “Where and why did you travel?” “What’s in your bag?” Nothing. Not a single question. Well, that’s different, I thought to myself. Different, but welcome. After 14 hours of total travel time on subway, train and airplane, I was tired and looking forward to taking a shower and going straight to bed. The clock said 9pm, but my body knew better: it was 11pm. Jet lag had me running two hours ahead of time.

“Madam, taxi?” “Let me help you. Where are you going?”

I declined the offers from the blue-clad airport taxi drivers and called Eric, the Uber driver who told me he was nearby and would arrive soon. Since I was already outside, I asked him to meet me at the taxi stop opposite the arrivals hall. A few minutes later, he called to inquire about my exact location; I told him to look out for a woman in a black top and jeans with a purple suitcase. Soon enough, a car with the number plate details listed on the Uber app came into view. I waved at Eric and he slowed down. He barely came to a stop before a man in uniform appeared – out of nowhere – with a yellow clamp, which he quickly fastened to the rear tyre of Eric’s car.

Clamp-Kotoka-International-Airport
The Clamp on Eric’s car

“Excuse me, what’s going on?” I asked the officer.

He ignored me, turning his attention to Eric who had gotten out and was walking over. I watched as Eric explained how he had literally just arrived at the airport and that he had come over because I called and asked him to.

“You’re not supposed to park here,” the officer cut in.

“Since when?” I interjected. “I’ve traveled many times this year – the most recent being in late May – and nobody ever told me not to get picked up here. I usually get a taxi here. When did that change? Was it announced? And if that’s the case, what about all these other cars dropping off and picking up passengers along the curb?”

I gestured to a taxi and parked private cars in the distance. He ignored me again. Eric motioned to me to wait and walked off to talk to the officer. By this time, I was frustrated because I knew what was about to happen: the driver would offer to pay a small amount to the officer in exchange for removing the clamp. I wanted no part of it, and although I wasn’t within earshot, knowing what was about to happen was enough to make me feel complicit. Corruption, the very thing wrecking our society to shreds had reared his ugly head at the airport, welcoming travelers to its bastion of power: Accra city, the capital of our so-called democracy par excellence.

While I have been propositioned numerous times to pay a bribe, I have only ever paid it once, albeit somewhat unknowingly. It was my first and last time, and coincidentally, at this same Kotoka International Airport. The main difference between the 2005 incident and what happened that June 2016 night was the fact that the first was inside the departure terminal while the other was outside with the so-called parking attendants and traffic control officers.

 

 

I still remember the shame I felt after I paid that bribe in 2005. It was my first time traveling outside Ghana alone. I was on my way to college, both excited and scared. While waiting in line to check-in, an airport staff member informed me that one of my bags was over the 23kg weight limit.

“But that’s not possible,” I responded. “I weighed both my bags at home before leaving and it was under the limit.”

The officer simply replied that it was the airport’s weighing scale that counted. My mother suggested I remove some of my things for her to take home, which I did, somewhat reluctantly. We weighed the bag again. Lo and behold, the weight was still the same.

“Sister, your bag is overweight,” the officer said again with a straight face.

I just looked at him, confused. I needed to check-in soon or else I would miss my flight. “What’s the problem here?” a voice behind me said. Turning I saw another person in uniform. “He’s saying my bag is overweight even though it was under the weight limit when I checked it at home,” I responded.

“But this one is easy oh. We use the airport’s weighing scale so that’s what is official. If you go to the counter you will pay like $100 because it is overweight. When is your flight? Don’t you have to check-in soon? Let me help you. Do you have X cedis?”

Looking at my watch, I nodded absentmindedly, then reached into my bag for my purse. Give it to me, he said. I hand it over. He walked over to the weight checker and whispered something to him. A few minutes later, I was waved through to the line. “Have a safe flight madam,” the weight checker said, a cheeky smile on his face. It was then that I realized I had just paid a bribe.

At the check-in counter the agent asked me to put my suitcase on the carousel. Immediately a red light lit up with the numbers 19kg. I would find out later that the airport weighing machines are sometimes tampered with to add extra weight.

I not only felt cheated, I felt like a cheat. Since then, I vowed never to pay a bribe. And yet here I was again 11 years later, possibly an unwilling accomplice in a bribery scheme at the same darned airport.

My reverie was broken when I heard some shouting. One of the airport control officers had flung open the door of a car that had apparently stopped in the “no parking zone” and the car was speeding away. He hit the back of the car and the open door almost crashed into the Uber driver’s vehicle. Eric shouted in frustration: “You see what you are doing? Are you trying to dent my car?” I walk over to the duo who had been joined by two other officers. Another officer would do similar a few moments later, almost hitting a woman crossing the street.

“Excuse me, what’s your name, officer?”

“My name?” he responds.

“Yes, your name. I like to know who I’m speaking with.”

“Oh, his name is Joseph Owusu,” one of the other officers chimed in. “And mine is Doctor. K. Oduro.” His colleagues burst into laughter shouting “Doctor, doctor!”

Ignoring them, I addressed Owusu, and asked again what the situation was. He responded that we have to pay a fine of 100GHS (approx. $25). When I asked why, he pointed to some signs. Until then, I hadn’t seen them. As it turns out, there was a truck of sorts on the pavement with personnel wearing similar uniforms. Unless you were in the middle of the road, you couldn’t see the signs. I explained to the officer that I’m a frequent traveler and this was the first time I was hearing of this policy (or even seeing the signs, quite honestly). I inquired again when the policy was implemented. He ignored my question, walked over to the front of the car, issued a ticket and placed a paper on the bonnet.

Annoyed, I followed it up with a string of other questions: Did you announce the new policy? Do people know about it? How come there is no signage that says there is a penalty for parking here? How come these cars have been parked here for over 30 minutes now and many others have just come and gone with no word from you? I saw one of your men chasing down a car with a clamp in hand. Chasing down a car – is that how you handle the situation? What exactly is your system here? I don’t have 100GHS on me – and how do I know that the 100GHS you mention is the official fee? Do you have any documentation to support this?

Another, younger, official chimed in: “Herh sister. You have to pay the fine. If you don’t pay it we will bring a tow truck and you will pay another fine – a much bigger one.”

“I don’t have a problem paying a fine if it is legit,” I retorted. “But I am really curious because this is the first I am hearing of this policy and I would like to be better informed so I avoid any future fines.”

Eric, the driver had been silent this whole while, visibly shaken. Turning to him, I asked him if he had a direct number for Uber, which he unfortunately didn’t. He decided to call another driver who might. We waited. The young officer shouted again, telling Eric to move his feet away from the car tyre, because “it’s an offense” and he would be “fined again”.

Until this moment I hadn’t thought about recording the episode. The sheer arrogance of the officer compelled me to do so. I took out my phone, opened Snap Chat and begun recording. Over this time period, about six cars (taxis especially) parked in the supposed no-parking zone with no questions asked. In one instance, an officer walked over to the car and came back tucking something into the pocket of his shirt. Remember the two cars which were parked for over 30 minutes? Their owners returned, an officer walked over to them, and within a minute or so they sped off. I didn’t see the officers writing them an invoice.

“Did you see that Eric? They are taking bribes,” I said. Hearing that, the younger officer walked up to me, his finger in my face, “You think you can come from wherever you came from and just try to change things? Respect yourself.”

“Don’t put your finger in my face. And as far as I can see, I’m not the one in uniform. You’re the one acting unprofessionally.” By this time I was very annoyed, not so much at the so-called fine, but rather at the clear bias, bribery and corruption.  The officer walked off, still muttering.

“That’s what they have been doing, these officers,” a young man who had been in the vicinity the entire time said. “They are just taking advantage of people. It’s not nice.”

I looked at the time on my phone. It was past 10pm. I’d been out of the airport for at least 45 minutes. Eric found the number he was looking for but after a few tries and no pickup it was clear we had a decision to make. We each had 50GHS, so decided to find the officer and pay the fine. “Make sure you get a receipt,” I told Eric as he walked off. Soon enough there was another commotion. I walked over, only to find out that the invoice they left on the car was a copy, not the original.

Kotoka-Airport-Ticket
The Ticket “copy” we were given

“Where is the original,” we asked Officer James Adjetey (the name on his uniform).

“It’s torn,” he responded. “We didn’t want to give you the torn one so we gave you the copy.” We asked for a new invoice, but he told us he couldn’t write another. How convenient.

After some back and forth, Eric decided to take the original, torn version and inquired about where we could make the payment. The officer motioned into the distance and Eric asked him to remove the clamp and get into the car so we drive over.

“No, we can’t do that,” he said. Eric and I look at each other confused.

“You can take a taxi and go over there to pay and you will get a receipt – or you can pay to us here and we will remove the clamp and you go. That’s easier,” the officer added.

I stopped Eric as he was about to give the officer the money. “Do you have a receipt?” I asked the officer. He responded in the negative. “Who will pay for the taxi ride to the office?” He told us we wouldn’t have to pay.

In the end, Eric went with him to the office, paid the fine, and got a receipt, while I watched the car and my luggage. Eric would later confirm that the taxi driver was not paid. I guess that explains why some taxi offenders were left to go scott free.

All that said, I can’t say I’m too surprised by the incident. There was a similar incident last year at Abidjan’s Houphouet-Boigny International Airport, also late at night or in the wee hours of the morning, targeting travelers who were clearly tired. Then, as now, the officers were evasive in answering questions, so I asked for a supervisor and told him he could send the invoice to my employer since I was on official business. In this recent episode, it was evident all four or so Kotoka International Airport officials were somehow complicit and backing one another up. I wouldn’t even be surprised if those at the ‘office’ were accomplices too.

I’d told the officers I would be writing about their so-called “new policy”, so here we are. I had hoped to get some insights from the airport management directly, but my leads so far have led me nowhere. I did however speak to blogger and satirist Efo Dela who worked with one of the companies based in the airport for four years. He not only confirmed my suspicions about the conveniently parked truck being a distraction and ploy to get you in “their trap”, but also admitted there’s no real fine system.  In his words:

 

Now, you might be wondering why we didn’t just pay the fine immediately. It’s simple: there were too many unknowns, too much inconsistency, too many unanswered questions. From the selective choice of ‘offenders’ to the fact that none of the officers seemed to know about the so-called new policy. From the vehicle conveniently blocking the signage, to their unprofessional and erratic approach which put public safety in danger. And let’s not forget the torn invoice and their reluctance to let us go to the office to make an official payment for a receipt. All of it.

Small pay or otherwise, it’s the murkiness of our so-called systems that make bribery and corruption easy. The same reason why our President will falter during a BBC interview when asked whether he has ever taken a bribe, only for allegations to crop up weeks later of him receiving a “gift” as Vice-President. The same reason why many would rather criticize Manasseh Azure Awuni for delving deeper into the so-called “bribe” rather than ask for evidence to the contrary. The very reason why all our responses to purported instances of corruption have been contrary to what happens in many other countries.

I can only hope that this article offers some insights to other travelers on being vigilant once they arrive at Kotoka International Airport, because unfortunately the facelift is a ruse. We are still rotten to the core. But in the event that it does reach anyone who cares or is responsible enough to actually make some much-needed changes, here are some suggestions:

 

Make the policies clear: Is there a fine or isn’t there a fine? Does it apply to someone who waits for 30+ minutes or for anyone who so much as ventures towards a curb? Make the policies clear so we all know what to expect. Better still,  improve the current website by including a section on announcements and airport policies.

(Stop blocking the) Signage: At any sane airport there is signage to guide people, particularly since most of the people there are likely to be strangers – travelers passing through or first-timers visiting the country. There is no way you can expect each of these people to know the rules and regulations in a country unless you tell them. Create signs that clearly indicate areas where people can or cannot be picked up or dropped off – and don’t block them with official cars. Some suggested wording “No stopping at any time,” “Drop off and pickup only. Maximum wait time 3 minutes,” “No parking. Penalty of 50GHS and possibly towing,” and so on.

Announce any new policies: When I was transiting in Rwanda a few weeks ago, the airline crew made the following announcement: “Passengers disembarking in Kigali should note that Rwanda has instituted a new policy regarding polythene bags. Polythene bags are banned and will be confiscated at border control. Please hand over your polythene bags before entering the country. Failure to do so will result in a fine and possible jail time.” After that who will dare say they didn’t know? It’s also important to announce via radio, TV, newspaper, and – whenever management does set up those channels – social media.

Announce the fine amounts: Many public officials take advantage of passengers (and potential investors or tourists) when the details concerning fine amounts are not clear. Any public entity truly committed to managing or reducing corruption will stipulate what the fines are for various offenses. And if that’s not spelt out, well, as they say, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.

Teach professionalism, customer service: As one Twitter follower shared, a friend of his was subjected to a similar incident at the airport and was left quite frazzled and disappointed. This was a first time visitor to Ghana – someone who could have been a repeat visitor, an investor, and/or advocate for tourism in Ghana – and this was his first impression of the so-called ‘Gateway to Africa’. And you know what they say about first impressions.

 

For travelers who encounter corrupt officials, here are some ideas for dealing and reducing the risk of having to pay for a bribe:

Ask questions: If nothing at all, it will unnerve them and it will give you insights which you can use to prevent falling into their trap another time. Did I mention it will unnerve them?

Ask for or take down names: Joseph Owusu, Dr. K. Oduro and James Adjetey were a bit uncomfortable when I asked for their names. And while it may seem far-fetched, should the opportunity ever arise to have them take responsibility for their irresponsibility, I will not hesitate in offering up their names.

Make sure you have a paper trail: If the system is as corrupt or deep seated as it is in Ghana, it probably won’t help much. But by going through “official” channels and leaving a paper trail you reduce the chances of them absconding.

Record or film the incident: The younger officer was clearly uncomfortable with me holding my phone. It might not guarantee threat of punishment, but knowing that the incident is being recorded could sway the balance from low threat of punishment to a higher threat of punishment. At the end of the day, corruption and bribery is a cost-benefit analysis. The higher the benefit of engaging in the act (or the lower the threat of punishment), the more likely one is to engage in bribery and corruption.

We can throw on as much paint as we like and introduce the newest technology into the airport building (and by extension, the country), but until we take a serious look at curbing corruption and improving the professionalism of airport staff to ensure that unsuspecting travelers are not duped or taken advantage of upon entry, the best we can claim to be is the “Gateway to a bed of corruption”.

 

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Author

Jemila Abdulai is the creative director, editor and founder of the award-winning website Circumspecte.com. A media and international development professional and economist by training, she combines her business, communications and project management expertise with her strong passion for Africa. Besides writing and reading, she enjoys travel, global cuisine, movies, and good design.

20 Comments

  1. Something similar happened to me when I landed at Kotoka around this time last year. My driver unknowingly took a wrong turn and suddenly the back tire was clamped and we had to pay a 150 cedi fine. We need to do better

    • Dear Anita,

      Sorry to hear that you were a victim of their treachery, but thank you for sharing. Hopefully this will make us all more aware and eventually contribute to ending the practice.

    • I was also ambushed. I tried my best but could not avoid paying Ghc100. I had merely got out of the car to give a passport to a friend waiting on the pavement outside the departure hall.

  2. It’s absolutely absurd! We are corrupt to the core. I don’t think we understand the essence of being the so called “gateway to West Africa”. Sorry for this terrible experience. I am glad, you made the time to share your experience and recommendations. #Corruptionmuststop

  3. Great piece – as expected.

    Well, the airport authorities create the situation in order to drive up revenues but instead it allows the malfeasance you have just described (do you give the money to the Ghana Airpots Company – to fund the renovations and paint-over you have described or line the pocket of some opportunistic individual(s) – I hear any position at the airport is highly sought for as it provides many opportunities for additional streams of income).

    The airport does not encourage curb-side pick up at Kotoka – in fact, it is pretty much not permitted unless you are using one of the taxis that are “authorised” to be there (the image of your ticket is telling with the list of 20 defined offences and a space for “Other” – I can see ” Being Too Known” as one of the Other offences.

    I have seen people clamped many times for the most ridiculous reasons, so as a former frequent flier into Kotoka these were my options: 1. Walk up to “Departures” and get picked up there (you have to be very quick or you could get clamped there as well and you can only really do this is you are travelling truly light); 2. Go to “Domestic Arrivals” and get picked up there; or 3. Walk to the Airport Shell Filling station. None of these options are really practical but it helps beat the rush and might save you the parking fee (which is really why curb-side pick-up is not allowed). You are either paying for the parking fee, the bribe or the arbitrary fines (which always come with the veiled threat of “you think you are better than me but today I have got you” – which is almost understandable from people who see people living the “dream” day in day out and they are stuck monitoring your movement at the airport).

    We all know the problems of our dear country and let’s be honest, it is endemic and will not change anytime soon. We can just continue to be vigilant and hope that some of us on such platforms and forums are able to get to the positions where we can implement the necessary changes and work towards introducing solutions that inform us better as well as monitor employees better so that the culture of bribery and corruption is eliminated or significantly reduced.

    Why isn’t the fine properly recorded and receipt sent to you via SMS or email to create a proper trail? Also if each fine is roughly GHs100 and this is receipt number 48,236 (assuming sequential tickets), what are they doing with the US$10 million they have collected to date? LOL!

    You’ve touched on an interesting point here without highlighting it though. Uber should have been ready for this. In any market they launch in, they probably spend some money and tie understanding the market they are entering and should work towards putting in place solutions that provide convenience to their customers/riders. Your driver knew that he should not pick you up at that location. He should have called and given you an alternative pick up location or simply parked in the lot but that would mean paying the parking fee (I don’t think there is a free parking time allotment at Kotoka) and I do not know if the app has accommodated that for Accra (I am yet to use Uber in Accra)

    In Nigeria, curb-side pick up is permitted so this is not an issue. But I once travelled to San Diego and had a really difficult time finding my Uber since Uber had been designated an out of the way collection point that was different from other taxis and Ubers were actually not permitted to collect passengers curb side. There have been similar situations in airports around the world but the politics of livery services is not the topic at hand here.

    Uber has supposedly signed a MOU with some ministry in Ghana. In order to overcome some of these hurdles, they should be able to work with organizations such as Kotoka to have special permission for curb-side pick-up so that we do not have such incidents going forward. It will bode well for their business, their service providers (the drivers) and service recipients (the riders).

    • Thanks for your comprehensive comment Victor! You make very good points about incorporating tech into the airport management of fines (although given the state of their website, one can only hope they consider) and also the amount of funds they would have amassed by now if pooled. You’re right regarding Uber – I’m actually working on a comprehensive review of their service soon and planned to highlight it then (I did send them a comment following this incident though and the receipts were largely for the driver to request reimbursement if possible). To his credit, the driver did tell them he would have parked, but I called him, and I told the officers the same, but they just ignored me especially. Interesting regarding San Diego – it will be interesting to see how they fine-tune those elements here in Ghana.

  4. I made my decision last Friday to never pay a bribe again. No matter what. I was tested yesterday.
    Got pulled over by a cop. Gave him my license. He waited a bit and asked if I had a triangle. I did. Then he asked why my windshield was cracked. I laughed. He then he was arresting me. I asked him why. He said I didn’t have the right. They he asked for a fire extinguisher. I didn’t have one. He said I was to go to the station with him. I begrudgingly agreed. Then he said I had to wait until he finished what he was doing.
    Told him I was in a hurry (was on my way to go see my friend who had just been operated on – appendectomy). He said then I should be smart. :)
    I shadowed him as he stopped other drivers and just asked for their licenses (only). Some didn’t and gave him money. He would look at me and say, “they have everything.”
    After about an hour he headed to the station where he gave my license to a colleague who asked me to meet him outside. He also went ahead to ask me to pay up.
    Long story short – I didn’t. They still have my license. Good thing is, I have pictures and recording. I’m out for blood.

    – any ideas
    #briberymuststopingh

    • Wow. The part that guts me is “He would look at me and say, ‘they have everything'”. Great that you have photos and recording! I also took some videos, but I’m holding on to them in case the need arises. We really do need to find a way of addressing these things, they shouldn’t have your license. I know one other person who has had run ins with the police and refused to pay them – I believe he spent some time in a cell. Will connect you. Naturally, if you’d like to write about your experience, you’re welcome to do so on Circumspecte (would be happy to help you publish it and get it going around). I’ll keep an ear out for any other ideas, but I think recording these incidents is one step towards curbing the nonsense.

  5. They did that to me a couple years back. Everyone’s initial reaction is rage so pple don’t really notice that in their haste to clamp you they forget to put the back of the clamp on. At least in my case. So technically you can just pull it off and go on your way. … I wasn’t gutsy enough to do it. But I hope someone out there will be.

    • I couldn’t help but LOL. This is good to know! And it kinda makes sense why the officer was so adamant about the driver not getting anywhere near the car tyre. Man, if I knew this I’m not sure I would have stuck around for their time-wasting. Anyone reading this who ends up going on your way, pray do tell!

  6. It happened to me last month in dansoman. These AMA clamp happy workers are very annoying. I Parked at a bus stop because i assumed the sensible thing to do rather than park in the road and obstruct traffic. Crossed right opposite to the other side of the road to buy banana. Returning to my car i saw them fixing the clamp. i walked over to them and asked what the problem was, mind you my getting out and crossing including the purchase didn’t take more than 3 minutes because i have known thanks to an AMA official who told me years ago at a circle bustop the waiting time at a bus stop is 3minutes. They would not listen to me, all they kept repeating was i have parked in a bus stop so they are fining me. I became angry at their bush approach so i challenged their identity. They were using a rickety trotro and were in some overalls. I asked them to prove they work with the AMA because any group of tricksters can go round extorting money from people. This supposedly angered their team leader who said i was being difficult and will show me where power lies. He said i will have to go to their headoffice at Kaneshie to pay the fine, so he wrote me a ticket. he said one of the staff will have to sit in my car so i do not escape, that became an exchange of words as i refused to let anyone sit in my car. When we got to the head-office he went to whisper something into the cashiers ears, jumped into the trotro and sped off to go catch the next victim. I want to assume he told her i was being difficult because her attitude was nonchalant. Her boss wasn’t around so i couldn’t speak to anyone else. I left the car there and went to work because i found it a very stupid encounter. In the afternoon i went back there. It was like a market place. People raining all sorts of curses on them because their cars were clamped. The most sad case was a man who parked to cross his 4 year old son to his school on the other side of the street. I spoke to the boss and he just shook his head in disbelief. He explained that once the ticket has been issued he cannot revoke it so i should pay and fill out a complaints form stating all that happened. It will be reviewed and i will be called for a refund if they feel i was unfairly treated. There is no education, no road signs yet they give these people power to go round terrorising people.

    • This is pure craziness. I did wonder whether the officers were legit or not, hence my decision to take down their names. If they are not on payroll then the airport management has an even bigger issue on their hands: impersonation. It shouldn’t be too hard to put the appropriate road signs up in designated areas and to inform the public, embassies, etc. At this rate it’s more a question of will. Thanks for sharing Brenda and sorry you had to go through all that!

  7. Sometime last year, I was at the airport to see my brother off. I parked at the drop-off zone at the departure hall to help him offload his luggage from my car.As with us anytime he visits, I drop him and his luggage off at the drop-off zone, then proceed to the car park to park, before coming back to the departure hall to help him check in. As we were offloading his baggae, I saw a guy coming in our direction with a clamp.

    Before I knew it, he bust into speed and clamped the back tire. My brother was so furious. I asked the gentleman who clamped the tyre why he had done so and he told me that even though I am in the drop off zone, I had parked on a ramp which is illegal. (ridiculous right?). He said I had to pay a fine of GHC 150. (Really? For parking on a ramp in a right parking zone?)

    I asked to speak to his boss. He said he was the Boss. I told him he is very terrible one as he clearly cold have just told me to move down the rump instead of clamping it. I later found out he was not the Boss. My brother, who had a really short temper was busting with anger as the attendant had pushed the car door in trying to clamp the tyre. He kept saying that guy could have destroyed my car. I noticed that the back had not properly been fixed as described by Adu. I told my brother to calm down.

    I finished taking his thing out of the car and asked him to proceed to the departure hall. I saw the guy who clamped my car talking to his colleague. I approached them and asked the other guy who the Boss is. He said their Boss was in the office. So I said okay and walked back to my car.

    I just went to the clamp, took it off the tyre, put it on the pavement, and drove away. I I started moving out, I saw them running towards my car. I was gone.

    On hind sight, I should have taken the clamp away.

  8. I noticed your article and decided to investigate- these are the results:
    – there was a big sign there that reads: no stopping, no parking, no waiting and a second sign that says” picking up of passengers and luggage here is prohibited – spot fine”
    – secondly after looking into the records of the summons number on top of the summons 0048236 issued on the 16/06/16 was paid for officially and in the full amount of . The reciept number is 037212 which was also issued that day.

    So where is the bribery and curruption in this case?
    It’s is normal for offenders to rant about thier experience, the exercise itself is a deterrent so therefore will not be pleasant – however why make false claim that a bribe was taken- please check your facts- the enforcement and the fine paid were all legitimate-

    Also Uber officials have been informed to contact the airport company to steam line a proceedure for them to operate at the airport –

    On the contrary I believe we are doing a phenomenal work at the airport under our private sector initiative. We pride ourself of a duty that no government agency has been able to do for over a decade. If there is any bribery out there – it’s not under our outfit.
    I would have posted photos of your reciept of payments counterfoil copy , but this blog reply mechanism does not allow photo uploads.

    Sorry for your experience
    Kindly direct any future pick-ups to the appropriate place .
    Regards.

    • Hello Mr. John, thanks for your investigation and response. It’s good to know that someone, I’m assuming at the company responsible for enforcing the parking policy, cares enough. To your results and questions:

      – As I mention, the only signs I saw were the no stop signs and only after the parking attendant motioned to them. Why? Because – again, as I mention – the signs were (conveniently) blocked by one of your vehicles. So I guess the question on my end still remains the same – how much awareness-raising and public education has been done regarding the parking regulations at the airport? How many signs do you have and are they located in vantage positions? Do you have signage INSIDE the airport (as passengers are coming out through arrivals for instance) to alert them? If you have ONE sign, chances are many passengers will miss it. As I stated in my article – and to the attendants – I have no problem paying a fine so long as I know it is legit. Having ample public education and signage will help establish the fines and regulations as such, so I do hope you consider (and maybe answer?) some of the questions I asked :)

      – Yes, the fine was paid for officially and in the full amount. But only because I insisted my driver go to the office to pay and get a receipt (so he could show to Uber if necessary). Your staff would have rather we paid it right where we were – even though they couldn’t issue receipts. So if anything, I (THE PASSENGER) ensured that there was no bribery or corruption in THIS case, because I would not pay it.

      Again, I had no problem paying the fine. My concern was whether the amount was correct or inflated – there was no signage or public guidance to this effect. In other places the fine amount is clearly indicated (one of the recommendations I make in the article) – the torn invoice, the lack of a clear system in choosing which “offenders” to follow up with, the unprofessional attitude of your staff (which almost led to accidents), and the fact that they couldn’t or wouldn’t answer my questions. I’m curious to know what efforts you are putting – or can put – to address those concerns.

      There is no false claim on my part. If you read the article thoroughly, you’ll see that I never said a bribe was taken from ME. And again, I’m willing to bet that was largely because of my insistence we pay at the office. I’m not too sure how it would have panned out if we paid to the attendant. And then there’s the matter of the torn invoice – you only have the counterfoil copy because the driver asked for the original.

      One of my Facebook commentators also shared her experience and in her case there was no counterfoil at all. Then there is this: how much is the fine? From the different comments, the amount can range from 70 to 150GHS. How do you determine the amount and who is an “offender”? Is it arbitrary, at the will of the attendant? Or is there an actual fine rate card or sorts? If so, why not make that public? Who is an offender? As I mentioned in the article, there were many other cars that actually parked (some for over 30 minutes) and yet I didn’t see your attendants clamp or fine them. In two cases it APPEARED they received money from the drivers – again, didn’t see them being given a ticket. Does that count as corruption?

      Whatever your policy or fining system, it’s not clear (even to those of us who use the airport frequently) nor is it being implemented consistently. THAT is the crux of this matter and the point of this article.

      I should say though, it’s unfortunate that you see this as just a “rant” – this is a legitimate concern from not just me, but from many other passengers (Ghanaian and non-Ghanaian). So obviously, despite the fact that you are doing a “phenomenal work at the airport”, there is clearly some room for improvement, particularly on the customer service and public education fronts.

      As to whether the bribery is under your outfit, that’s left to be seen, but it would be quite naive to think there is absolutely no bribery at the airport (especially after all these passenger accounts), which is exactly the question I ask right from the beginning – and which I think should concern us all – when do we begin the arduous task of ridding the airport of bribery?

      At the very minimum, I know better now when it comes to parking at Kotoka International Airport and hopefully many others do too. I look forward to hearing from you about the recommendations myself and some of the other readers have made on how to improve your services at the airport. Thank you.

    • There might not have been bribery or corruption in this particular case, but your team is far form “phenomenal”. A similar thing happened to me when my aunt picked me up at the airport in October 2013. There were no parking places available and so she parked across the street from Arrivals only to help me take my suitcases to the car. It could not have been more than five minutes because I was already standing outside. At least Jemila got a receipt. We however, did not.

  9. Jemila,

    Thanks for sharing your experience with corruption at KIA.

    I recall an incident an incident at the Aflao border back in the 90s. An immigration officer on the Ghana side of the border tried to extort money from me for no good reason, but I refused to give him even a pesewa. A scuffle ensued. To my utter disbelief, some fellow travelers behind me in the queue heckled me, urging me to pay up and not waste their time. After a lengthy and heated exchange, some stranger Unbelievably paid a “ransom” to the corrupt official just to let me go.

    This adventure confirms the following:
    1. Many civil servants expect bribes while performing their regular duties. Most times these crooked officers get
    upset or offended, sometimes even violent, when you have the guts to refuse to pay.

    2. Some people think it is possible to get whatever they want through bribery.

    3. Folks who indulge in bribery believe it is normal. What is worse, they expect everyone else to join in the game.
    In fact, you would be considered stingy, mean, or unwise when you refused a bribery “opportunity.”

    I always say no to the official who wants to squeeze money from me. I get into a loud argument with them on purpose. No pleading whatsoever! I let them know I am prepared to spare as much time as it takes to get what I deserve. As long as I stand my ground, they have no option except to grant me my right, not without a few insults and dirty looks, however.

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