President of the Ghana Association of Bankers, John Awuah, has disclosed that banks in Ghana have made significant progress in acquiring armoured bullion vans for the transportation of money across the country.
Speaking in an interview on Joy FM’s Midday News on Wednesday, he stated that, in compliance with previous admonitions by the Police, many indigenous banks in the country have rolled measures to ensure the safety of persons who transport their monies in bullion vans.
According to him, despite the successes chalked, some hurdles at the Ministry of Interior is affecting the operationalisation of the acquired armoured vans.
“I can say that we’ve made some progress from the perspective of the banks. Unfortunately, we need the Interior Ministry to fast track their processes and to enable them release the documentation that will enable banks bring in these vehicles. As we speak, some banks have armored vehicles parked at the Team Harbour.
They’re unable to clear them because the processes for getting these vehicles cleared at the Interior Ministry have almost stalled. We’re not making progress at the Ministry at the moment”, he stated.
Touching on the exact number of armoured bullion vans which have been procured, Mr. Awuah explained that, the purchases are not being done by the banks themselves, even though some banks have put together contingency plans.
“So the way the cash to transit process work, most of the banks do not undertake the process themselves. It’s an outsourced operation and so we have cash in transit companies. And you know in this particular incident, it was one of the companies, ‘Montran’, whose vehicle was involved in the incident.
So it is the companies, a lot of the instances, who are procuring the vehicles. But some banks have taken it upon themselves to procure some strategic stick or fleet of the vehicles. So in the unlikely event that there’s a mishap somewhere, their vehicles will step in to ensure seamless cash movement”, he explained.
He went ahead to clarify that despite the efforts by the banks, the Ministry of Interior is also concerned about the operationalisation of the purchased armoured vans, and this has led to a deadlock; a situation he describes as ‘unfortunate’.
“So the concern the Interior Ministry has raised with the industry is that given the numbers that we’re talking about; we’re talking about replacing all the soft body vans with these armored bullion vans. What it means, is that if we have 300 to 400 soft skin vans, we’re going to have almost the same number in bullion vans on our streets; which to them can pose another level of security risk.
So to an extent, I can understand that they want to have a structure around it. But unfortunately, the process towards putting in place the structure that will allow us to bring in these vehicles has just been completely broken down. We don’t even know how to proceed from here anymore.
The approvals have stalled. Those who have managed to bring some of the vehicles to the port, the vehicles are parked there and we have no visibility on what is happening that will enable us to clear them”, he clarified.
The comments by Mr. John Awuah was in reaction to a foiled bullion van attack which happened on Tuesday at the Industrial Area, in Accra.
Following the incident, Inspector General of Police (IGP), Dr George Akufo Dampare, has renewed calls for the use of armoured vehicles in the transport of bulk cash.
The attack at the Industrial Area in Accra left at least three persons with various degrees of injury who are currently on admission at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.
In a statement on Facebook hours after the attack, the IGP said, “Beyond the Police intervention, the armoured bullion vehicle used saved the lives of the officials and the Police officer on-board the vehicle even though the robbers fired into the van.”
According to the IGP, “It has, therefore, become necessary to re-echo the Police Administration’s call for all financial institutions in the country to resort to the use of such fit-for-purpose vehicles for their cash in transit activities.”
In June last year, following four rampant attacks on bullion vans across the country, the Police Service cautioned banks regarding cash transportation.
Then IGP, James Oppong Boanuh, directed banks to ensure that they procure fortified armoured vehicles to cart cash within the country.
He warned that the Service is ready to withdraw its regular escorts if the financial institutions fail to comply with the directive by the end of the month.
It seems not much has changed as the current IGP reiterates similar calls on the financial institutions as attacks on bullion vans rear its head.
Dr Akuffo Dampare assured the public that the Police have intensified efforts to get the perpetrators arrested to face justice.
“We will surely get them,” the IGP said.
The Police Administration commended the Police officer whose intervention foiled the robbery incident.
Four bullion vans attacked in the first half of 2021
The first half of 2021 recorded four bullion van attacks.
JoyNews checks reveal that the robbers bolted with the cash on-board the vehicles in three of the incidents.
In two of the cases, the police officers escorting the van lost their lives.
On January 18, 2021, some highway robbers numbering about 10 attacked a bullion van travelling on a section of the Adansi Fomena road in the Ashanti Region, and an amount of ¢500,000 was stolen.
In broad daylight on March 1, 2021, a bullion van belonging to a popular bank was robbed on the Spintex Road at Baatsona near the Danpong Hospital by some armed men numbering about four, according to eyewitnesses.
The situation got worse in June as two bullion vans were attacked within three days.
The first incident happened on June 14, 2021, when a bullion van was attacked at Adedenkpo near James Town in Accra.
The Police officer escorting the van and a woman were killed, with the driver sustaining serious injuries. The robbers bolted with the money.
On June 17, 2021, the second attack occurred when a bullion van was attacked on the Winneba-Accra highway.
The unknown assailants shot at the van at the Okyereko and Dominase on the Winneba-Accra stretch.
Aside from the driver, the van was occupied by two police officers with an amount of ¢550,000 on board.
Fortunately, they escaped the gunshots and were rescued by the Winneba Divisional Police, who escorted them to Accra.
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