HISTORY OF BORDER PATROL IN GHANA / THE ORIGIN OF THE BORDER PATROL
Border patrolling in Ghana has evolved over the years. It started in the18th century when the Association of Foreign Traders felt threatened by the smuggling of their merchandise. The Association prudently organized security guards which become known as Customs Preventive Service in the second half of the 19th century and operated under the 1st Customs Law enacted in July 1855.
This law was repealed and replaced by the United Kingdom Consolidated Act of 1876.
This Service was christened the Volta River Preventive Service in 1897. It was responsible in the prevention of smuggling and running the river ferry. The Service was equipped with short firearms and enrolled military personnel in it.
These military personnel who become the officers of the Service were recruited and trained at the water Guards training school in Britain. The activities of the Service were extended to cover the whole borders of Ghana after the 1st world war and more preventive stations were established along the frontiers of Ghana. Such was the state of the Service till this country attained independence in 1957.
The Service was absorbed into the Ghana Police Service in 1962 but was still a specialized unit on the prevention of smuggling. The first president of Ghana Dr. Kwame Nkrumah saw the lapses in the operational activities of the Service making the government experience a drastic loss of revenue. He made some shuffling in the Service and gave it a new name thus the Border Guard Service under the 1963 security Act 202.
In 2005, cabinet mandated the Ghana Immigration Service to prepare and implement a new Border Management Policy with a focus on border patrols and policing of the country’s borders. The strategic thrust of this policy is the establishment of an efficient border management system that will allow freedom of movement while addressing cross border threats.
Ghana Immigration Service therefore took up the additional responsibility of patrolling and securing the country’s borders.
The unit was officially inaugurated at the GIS Headquarters on the 1st of November 2006 by the then Interior Minister, Hon. Albert Kan Dapaah.
As per the cabinet decision, the GIS was mandated to perform the following general functions, which includes but not limited to the prevention, deterring and interception of;
- Illegal Migrants
- Drug Trafficking
- Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling
- Animal, Cash Crop and Fuel Smuggling
- The Unit is further tasked to physically patrol all the borders of the country and report on all forms of suspected, subversive activities to the appropriate security agency(ies), it also coordinates with other security agencies to ensure border security and prevent territorial violation.
- The Unit is enjoined to be in the state of preparedness to act to contain external aggression prior to the deployment of troops from the Ghana Armed Forces.
THE FORMATIVE STAGE OF THE BORDER PATROL UNIT (BPU)
Experienced officers and men were selected within the Service. These personnel numbering One hundred and fifty (150) were sent to the Ghana Armed Forces Training center Asutuare for a two month intensive training on weapon handling, teamwork and confidence building.
The Unit was officially inaugurated at the GIS headquarters on the 1st of November 2006 by the then Interior Minister Mr. Kan Dapaah. Since November 2006 the Border Patrol Unit has grown from a personnel of one hundred and fifty (150) to a workforce of about eight hundred (800) personnel at the end of 2008. These have been deployed to the 13 sectors where Ghana Immigration Service operates.
OBJECTIVE OF THE UNIT
The objective of the Unit is to ensure the security of all and borders, entry and exit points including coastal areas against illegal entry and exit by cross border criminals. In the performance of this new role of securing the borders, the Immigration Service Border Patrol Unit is to undertake the under listed specific tasks.
i. Physical patrolling of the borders
ii. Checking of illegal migration
iii. Checking of drug /Human trafficking
iv. Checking of smuggling across the border
v. Checking animal trafficking
vi. Reporting on all forms of suspected subversive activities
vii. Preparedness to act as the first line of defense against external aggressors for the Ghana Armed Forces.
BORDER PATROL OPERATIONS
The Primary mission of the Border Patrol is detection and apprehension of illegal aliens and smugglers of aliens at or near the land borders.
Some of the major activities include maintaining traffic checkpoints along highways leading from border areas, conducting snap checks and anti-smuggling operations. These activities are performed with the use of pick-up vehicles and all purpose motorbikes.
In the performance of these duties, the Border Patrol Unit (BPU) has intercepted and arrested a lot of smugglers.
CHALLENGES OF THE UNIT
The Unit is faced with logistical and administrative challenges. The major ones are
a. Lack of official and residential accommodation to house the personnel in the sectors
b. Inadequate weapons to arm patrolmen in the performance of their duties.
The Border Patrol Unit is still in its infant stage of development its present challenges are expected but with determination and commitment by the rank and file of the Service, the present challenges would surely be a thing of the past.