WAKE UP FROM YOUR SLUMBER – Okudjeto TELLS SECURITY AGENCIES

Ranking Member of the Committee on Foreign Afairrs, Samuel Okujeto Ablakwa, is warning of a looming threat of terrorist attack on Ghana. H Safety and security You should exercise a high degree of caution in Ghana and maintain a high level of security awareness at all times.

Crime Pick-pocketing, purse snatching and attacks by individuals on motorbikes are increasing in Accra and its surroundings, including areas around the High Commission of Canada.

Violent crimes have also increased, including armed robbery. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid walking alone or displaying signs of wealth. Home invasions are on the rise.

Affluent areas in Accra where foreigners live are targeted and some thieves carry firearms. There have been recent cases of violent robberies often targeting foreigners travelling in taxis at night. If you have to use a taxi, ensure that there is no other passenger in the car and try to limit trips to day-time hours. When possible, carry photocopies of your travel documents and keep the originals in a secure place.

There is an increase in crime Tema, Kumasi, and the Upper East and West regions. Armed robberies of vehicles are a growing concern in areas such as Takoradi, Kumasi and other parts of the Ashanti region. People working in the mining industry should be particularly cautious. Armed attacks have also been reported along the Accra-Tema and Accra-Kumasi-Tamale highways. You should remain vigilant at all times.

Thefts occur at Kotoka International Airport in Accra and in hotels across the country. Be wary of unsolicited assistance from uniformed porters or officials appearing to work at Kotoka International Airport. Official airport employees wear identification cards bearing both their name and photograph. If you are being met at the airport, you should confirm the identity of your driver.

Terrorism There is a threat of terrorism. Terrorist targets could include shopping malls, government buildings, public areas such as bars, restaurants, hotels and sites frequented by Westerners. Be aware of your surroundings in public places. Demonstrations Demonstrations occasionally occur in Accra and other major cities. You are advised to be prudent and avoid large crowds and public gatherings, as some have turned violent in the past.

Monitor local news reports, follow the advice of authorities, and respect any curfews or roadblocks. Fraud Canadians are frequently the victims of Internet scams originating in Ghana, which is a base for commercial and Internet fraud schemes in the region. Scammers will offer enticing business or financial opportunities, often related to the gold industry. Be wary of unsolicited emails. Ensure that any business opportunity is legitimate before travelling to Ghana. Other scams involve online friendships or romances. There are many variations, all with the intent of scamming money from people abroad, and some Canadians have lost thousands of dollars and in some cases, have been arrested as a result of such situation. Credit card fraud is also a considerable problem.

Limit your use of credit cards whenever possible. See our Overseas Fraud page for more information on scams abroad. Road safety Road conditions are generally good in cities, but poor in rural areas. Inadequate lighting, pedestrians and roaming livestock pose risks. Traffic accidents are common on the road from Accra to Cape Coast and Kumasi. Travel outside urban areas should be restricted to daylight hours.

Be very careful when driving in Ghana. People may try to get you to stop your vehicle. Pedestrians may bang on your car, making it appear as if they have been hit, and drivers may attempt to cause minor vehicle collisions. Crowds gathering as a result of these types of incidents can become dangerous. Drive with your doors locked and proceed immediately to the nearest police station to make a report if you are involved in any traffic incident.

Police roadblocks are routine. At checkpoints, vehicles and passengers may be subject to inspections, and armed security forces may demand money, either directly or indirectly. You should always carry copies of identification documents, such as your passport and valid visa, and your International Driving Permit (IDP).

Ensure that your road-worthy and insurance stickers are up-to-date, and that your car is equipped with a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher and a warning triangle, as these items are mandatory. Vehicles with temporary license plates (DVLA) are prohibited from traveling anywhere in Ghana between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. Vehicles may be seized for the night and fines imposed for non-compliance. Furthermore, as border closures are frequent, seek the advice of the High Commission of Canada in Accra prior to departure if you are planning on leaving Ghana by road. Public transportation Buses are unreliable and inconvenient.

Car rentals are available but expensive. Taxis are also available, but taxi fares should be agreed before departure. Domestic air travel may be subject to disruptions. Air travel The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information. Reserves, safaris and the beach There are inherent risks associated with viewing wildlife (both marine and on land), particularly on foot or at close range. You should always maintain a safe distance when observing wildlife and avoid exiting vehicles unless professional guides or wardens say it is safe.

Use reputable and professional guides or tour operators and closely follow park regulations and wardens’ advice. Avoid isolated picnic areas and beaches. Coastal waters have unpredictable wave and tide patterns and can be dangerous. On many beaches, there are serious and strong undertows and riptides that can sweep swimmers out to sea. Follow the advice and warnings of local authorities. Piracy Pirate attacks and armed robbery against ships occur in coastal waters. Mariners should take appropriate precautions.

For additional information, consult the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau. General safety information Periodic shortages of electricity and city water can occur, especially in the dry season from November to March. Story by Richmond Adu Dwamena.

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