Deport all illegal immigrants

To readers from “immigration risk” countries, this may sound very harsh while those suffering from the impacts of illegal immigration would applaud. No country loves to keep illegal immigrants. In Ghana, which is known as one of the immigration risk countries in West Africa, there are periodic crackdowns on illegal immigration with Chinese and Nigerians suffering the most. Even investors who are bringing huge monies into the country go through hell to obtain residence permits. This tells you how serious it is to stay illegally in someone’s land.

The threats posed by illegal immigrants does not only affect the countries they are in but also affect those of us back home in one way or the other.

A doctor was denied visa to attend a conference. A man suffering from serious health complications was denied visa to seek medical care. Many others have been denied the opportunity to visit their families they have missed for years. Students denied visas to further their education. How do you feel about these visa denials? These and other people were denied visas because of illegal immigrants; because there are people who were granted visas under same condition and refused to return home after their stay.

I used to be very angry whenever I’m refused a visa till I got to understand the embassies. No matter how credible my reasons for traveling are, there was someone who applied with the same reasons and refused to return home after visa has been granted. So there is no way to convince a consular that your case is different.

Someone was granted a visa to seek for medical care abroad and never returned. Is your health condition very serious that you may die if not granted the visa? There are some people whose conditions were worse and refused to return after seeking medical attention abroad.

If we are denied visas, we should know that our family and friends who were unfaithful to their visa conditions are the reason.

Due to the actions of these illegal immigrants, most of us would never get the chance to see certain countries. So who are you blaming here? The embassies?

Let us take a look at how our brothers and sisters risk their lives on the Mediterranean Sea to enter Europe. If we could go to the extent of risking our lives just to travel and remain there illegally, then there’s no probability that those of us traveling safe by air would return, hence, the visa denials.

As a travel blogger aspiring to see the whole world, my greatest challenge has been obtaining visas for my trips. Upon distinguishing myself in this field with respect for immigration policies coupled with my travel experience to many countries, I still struggle in acquiring visas. There are even countries that do not have embassies or consulates to handle visa issues of travelers coming from our side of the world.

Countries like Russia and Mauritius deny entries to most tourists arriving from Ghana and we have ourselves to blame.

I know you’d love taking a vacation to your dream country. You might have killed that wish because you know you can’t get the visa. There’s a greater number of us who wish to just travel and explore but would never get the chance because of our family and friends who are illegal immigrants.

There are only two things we can do now to redeem our image and get Ghana off the “immigration risk” list.

First is to help in any way we can to fight illegal immigration by ensuring that all illegal immigrants are sent back to their various countries. Other than that, we have traded our travels in exchange for their stay.

Secondly, lets us all be faithful as a dog to the conditions of visas. When are we fortunate to be granted, let us adhere to the conditions that come along.

As the saying goes, the world is like a book and those who do not travel read only one page.

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Exposing The Corrupt Acts Of Officials At O.R. Tambo International Airport, South Africa

South Africa, has, in the recent years become the favourite holiday destination of many Ghanaians and as a Travel Blogger with many years of experience in the field, I took it upon myself to put together a complete travel guide for holidaymakers. And to make this project kosher, I had to embark on several trips to gather genuine and needed information.

There’s no doubt that South Africa’s economy is one of the largest and fastest growing economies on the African continent but the country is being sullied each passing day by some nefarious activities by her immigration officers.

First to meet you on your arrival at the O.R. Tambo International Airport is one of the many immigration officers who I would like to describe as “Mr Corruption”. And, I didn’t miss him when I arrived on a Kenya Airways flight on a fine Saturday morning (April 10, 2017).

On my arrival, the news of a lady who was denied entry by an immigration officer the previous day for no palpable reason got me edgy. I was asked a number of questions by the immigration officer in regards to my visit to his country.

He then asked; “How much do you have on you for your stay in South Africa?” and I answered him “US$3,000”. Then, he started smiling, suggesting to me his interest in my cash – in other words, wanting a share of it.

He then asked of my accommodation arrangements and quizzed whether I had paid for my hotel which I answered “no”.
He told me he had every right to deny me entry into his country because I had not paid for my hotel. In order to extenuate the issue, I explained to him that the hotel only accepts payment on arrival and that was clearly stated on the confirmation of reservation, again assuring him I had my accommodation very well sorted.

That wasn’t the end!

Unconvinced by my explanation, he requested for US $50 or deny deny me entry (and entry denial usually attracts a ban for a specified period). With fears all over me, I quickly handed him the money as requested.

He took me to an office at the airport and still went ahead to place a phone call to the hotel I mentioned to him to verify whether I had booked with them. The hotel confirmed it to him but was only for a night per my agreement with them.

Then came his threat again: “I have to send you back for booking a hotel for just a night when you will be staying for ten days.” I explained to him that based on previous experiences, I only reserve a room for a night when travelling and only extend my stay in that hotel only when I am satisfied with their services or go look for another one.

He then requested for an additional US $50 or else he will report to his head who will ensure they put me on the next flight back to Ghana. “Do I look like a punk to this dude?” I asked myself. I kept pleading and later had to succumb to his threats by paying him US $20.

My US$70 entry stamp

I’m convinced he knew this experience may be put in a blog post some time to come knowing very well he was dealing with a Travel Blogger. Well I told him am one. He didn’t hesitate to give me his phone number when I requested and assured me to count on him anytime I may need him.

I wasn’t the only one who went through this ordeal.

Richard Koomson (a tourist from Ghana) had a rather funny experience when immigration officers asked him to bribe them half his hotel rate for his entire stay. Funny, isn’t it? He ended up paying US$ 100 out of the requested US$250 after spending half an hour explaining to them why he did not pay for his hotel in advance.

Richard Koomson paid US$100 to gain entry into South Africa

One Stephen Mensah also encountered similar incident with security officials at the airport. He was told immigration officials erred in granting him entry into the country and was forced to bribe officials to be granted entry. He was fortunate enough to have his R200 accepted.

Prince Osei Tutu (Ghanaian businessman visiting his girlfriend) had no option than to empty his wallet to satisfy some unscrupulous immigration officials. He also ended up paying an amount of US $100 as he had the rest of his money hidden elsewhere.

Passport page of Prince Osei-Tutu containing the entry stamp he paid US$100 for.

Lydia Twumwaa (a tourist from Ghana) who had met all conditions to travel to South Africa was denied entry and sent back to Ghana because she did not understand the “language” when she was asked to pay for an entry stamp. I’m sure you understand this “language”.

Another tourist is currently serving a year ban from entering South Africa for overstaying his VISA after he refused to pay the requested bribe of US$ 200 (his US$20 offer was not accepted).

He was given an option of either paying US$200 or receive a year ban. His US$20 offer was rejected when asked how much he could afford

This is how corrupt and enraging immigration officers at the O.R. Tambo International Airport can be. They have no shame and demand monies as if it’s legitimate or legal and they do it without flinching, and even give orders with gusto, without considering the visitor’s status. They do not care about the consequences of their absurd acts; neither do they care they could be challenged and dismissed. From all indications, there’s absolutely no visible discipline there.

Officials at the O.R. Tambo Airport are always finding means to extort monies from travellers. Extorting money from travellers is the norm at the OR Tambo Airport as other officers look on and smile while you are being spoken to in ‘figures’.

Many have lost interest in visiting South Africa as immigration officers welcome you with unplanned bills from whoever they get in contact with. I know for sure that South Africa tourism sector alone generates much revenue and plays a major role in driving their economy.

There are so many people out there that I’m convinced have fallen victims to these demands and threats of corrupt immigration officers who haven’t been bold enough to voice their experiences. It’s disgusting and very pathetic!

Like many others, I spent over US $3,000 during my 10-day stay. So just imagine the loss if the country drives visitors away through bribery and corruption right at the airport. One cannot fail to perceive the air of hostility that envelops the atmosphere at the airport on arrival and also, departure.

So, the question is, who at all is accountable for these corrupt practices?

I hope this corrupt attitude has not gotten to top management at the airport. The response this blog post receives from them would tell the world if this has eaten to the top. The authorities must act now to bring sanity to the O.R. Tambo International Airport.

Now, many of us see travelling to South Africa as ‘going to war’ because you literally battle with the security officials as soon as you arrive. It’s a pity!

I hope this post is helpful to others who are still planning the great South African adventure. Just be prepared at the airport!

Ten (10) Consideration For Travelers In Buying Air Tickets

Most often, purchasing travel tickets are perceived to be a cash-and-carry thing but travelers usually end up paying much than they budgeted for.

The cheapest fares usually ends up to be the most expensive ones especially, when we are not sure of our travel dates or if the tickets does not offer the option of date change.

These are ten (10) guidelines to aid you make a better choice, when you intend buying an air ticket for your trip.

1. Check which airlines you can use without a transit visa or if you have the necessary documents to use the airline

Travel agents mostly assume you have all the necessary documents for your trip, so they sell tickets to you without hesitation. Depending on your passport and other documents, it may require you get a transit visa to be able to use some airlines with the exception of flights that do not make stops.

Check with the airline first if you require a transit visa. Travels to certain destinations may require an “OK to board”. The airline examines your travel documents and cross-checks them with the respective issuing authorities before they give you the nod to purchase the ticket.

Check with the airline thoroughly before tickets are purchased because you will be denied boarding if you require an “OK to board”. Asians traveling on Emirates requires this when traveling to certain destinations. Certain airlines require holders of Ghana passports traveling with e-visas to apply for an “OK to board”.

If you need it, the airline will direct you on how to get it done.

Zika Virus Outbreak And Your Travels

It is advisable and secured not to visit the countries which have experienced this outbreak since 2015.

The virus is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected aedes species of mosquito. The symptoms of this deadly virus are; fever, rashes, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The symptoms are usually mild lasting a few days to a week.

Everyone is at risk, but it is very severe when a pregnant lady contracts the virus, due to the effect on the unborn baby.

I have compiled a list of countries with reported cases so far and would love to alert you, so that you are cautious in making your travel decisions.

The countries are:

  • Barbados
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Colombia
  • Commonwealth of
    Puerto Rico, US territory
  • Costa Rica
  • Curacao
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • French Guiana
  • Guadeloupe
  • Guatemala
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Jamaica
  • Martinique
  • Mexico
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Saint Martin
  • Suriname
  • U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Venezuela
Oceania/Pacific Islands
  • American Samoa
  • Samoa
  • Tonga
  • Cape Verde

Featured Image: Sowege Live