The Ghana Association of Houston has petitioned the Foreign Affairs Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, to raise concerns over the removal of the Honorary Consul of Houston, Jack Webb.

On Wednesday, April 7, through Madam Botchwey, government announced the removal from Mr Webb’s office, effective Monday, May 31, 2021.

But the President of the Ghana Association of Houston, Dr Godwin Agboka, questioned the decision indicating that its timing will have dire implications on economic activities and the lives of Ghanaians in the Greater Houston area.

“While we understand that government has the sole mandate to appoint Honorary Consuls, the decision to remove Mr Webb comes as a surprise and was taken with no warning to or consultations with any of the stakeholders in the Greater Houston area, including the Ghana Association of Houston, the Ghana-Houston Chamber of Commerce, and identifiable Ghanaian groups and associations in Houston.

“Additionally, the decision does not communicate a transition plan that documents the operational processes upon the exit of the current Honorary Consul. These developments give the Ghanaian community great cause for concern,” the statement read.

Dr Agboka believed that government, instead of closing the Houston Consulate, could have focused on the expansion of the services rendered by the Consulate office to meet the needs of the growing population.

“The City of Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States, and the state of Texas continues to be the leading destination for many individuals and businesses migrating from both the East and West coast of the country. Both the Port of Houston and Port of Galveston are at the top10 of both trade volume and dollars for the West Africa region.

“Any uncertainty surrounding the operations or closure of the Consulate will have dire implications for travel and investments opportunities in Ghana. Therefore, the Ghana Association of Houston is constantly counselling and consulting potential travellers on passport and visa related matters here in the Greater Houston area and, sometimes, neighbouring cities and states,” he stated.

Therefore, the Association’s President appealed to Foreign Minister to expressly address the lack of dialogue between government and the Executive Board of the Association.

He also added that government must provide a realistic transition period for Mr Webb to successfully hand over operations of the Consulate to the newly appointed person otherwise, visa acquisition and other essential services will be greatly hampered.