My Shocking Trip To Customs & The Scent Of Corruption

This is very difficult for me to write but needless to say, for varied reasons, I need to pen it down. 🙂

My goods arrived and I was notified by the shipping agent to collect it. Now you may ask what goods I imported. The answer is very ordinary everyday goods and provisions for our personal use. Due to the high cost of goods here in Sierra Leone, it’s best to import even simple things like toothbrush! yes you have to believe me – Simple cornflakes will set you back $5 or more / Le 20,000 🙂 (I’ll do a pricing page here soon so you know what I’m talking about).

Now back to the main subject of my post today. The trip to the Quay was harrowing, being passed around from desk to desk, making payments for simple forms that I believe should be available for free.

There’s no clear public statement showing how much should be paid for which type of good conveniently leaving room for manipulation. As a result one is left at the mercy of whoever you meet that day. By the time I made the last round, I’d paid more than Le1.2million.

Now I can hear you say, “what’s wrong with that?” Well nothing, except when I received a receipt of ONLY Le200,000.oo right at the exit! In fact, it was squeezed surreptitiously into my hand in such a way that before taking a look, I  wondered why the guy was acting so shiftily.You can appreciate that by this time(after 3.00pm) I was so tired all I could think of was getting away.

Now when I think about it, I see how corruption is robbing this country!!! If what I paid was right, then the government should receive all the Le1.2 million but with an official receipt of only Le200,000.00, I can imagine that’s all it’ll receive. So where did the rest go to?

>>Heck, is Salone going to continue to shamefully beg for money from foreign donors whilst this low-down dirty behaviour is tolerated? The whole customs sytem needs some serious overhauling to cut down corruption to minimum.

If attitudes need changing, surely this is one place to do it!



3 thoughts on “My Shocking Trip To Customs & The Scent Of Corruption

  1. Why did you not complain to the highest authority? The problem is enough complaints are not made at effective levels. By that I mean if you had complained to someone who would take action you may have highlighted the problem. Yes I know every one is corrupt but if enough noises are made, we will see changes. By going along with the behaviour you have unconsiously condoned it albeit not intentionally.
    Encouraging corruption is in itself a crime and ignorance of the law is no excuse. My take is that we simply go along for an easy life. Corruption is inherent in all society but not rampant in most/some because it is not encouraged.

    • Helen, thanks 4 your comment and I agree with you except that, I don’t have any telephone numbers or names of people to report to. And that goes for most government offices and even private sector businesses in Salone. To complain, you must know someone and if you do your problem will be sorted but for the person that doesn’t know anyone, you’re stuck. First of all, you go nd ask “Can I speak to the manager?” he’s not available, you’re told, “Can I speak to the managers manager?” you’re stare down…. OK can i have your customer service number…”we don’t have one”

      So you see, you’re stuck, stuck stuck!! I complain everywhere I can, I just recently got NPA’s number and found out where I can make complaints when I’m having protracted light issues. Where did I get? I know someone who knows someone who works there. Simple. This type of information is not displayed on your bill or publicly for that matter. And it’s in somebody’s interest that it stays buried.

      You see, this helpful customer service information is non-existent in Sierra Leone.

      Thankfully, things are improving in the port. Now Ecobank is there collecting the money on behalf of the government. The question now is “Is the money being used appropriately?”

  2. Thanks for this and sorry for the late reply.Sierra leone definetly needs a system is all I can say and although I have been away for a while myself ,I kind of understand your sentiments. Nevertheless what is preventing victims from shouting as loud as they can where ever they can i.e the media. No do not answer that, I have a feeling why. I however am pleased to know that issues are being addressed; although not as what we will all appreciate, but there is a saying ” half a loaf is better than nothing”. Good luck to all those who genuinely want to make changes.

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