Ex-combatants from some war-ravaged countries in the West Africa sub-region are said to be trading sophisticated guns for motorcycles in parts of the North including Bawku.
That’s according to intelligence picked up by national security. It’s believed the guns are fueling the conflict in the region as well as armed robberies in other parts of the country.
Acting Executive Secretary of the Ghana National Commission on Small Arms Jones Borteye Applerh says efforts are underway to crack down on the illicit trade.
“We live in a very volatile region. We’ve had all sorts of political challenges in some of the countries around us. You find places like Ivory Coast where as a result of their electoral difficulties [guns abound]. The information we have at the Small Arms Commission is that some people are bringing their weapons to the Bawku area and they are selling the weapons. Some of them are exchanging them for motorbikes. It’s a lead that we have gathered and we’re working on it,” Mr Applerh told Hotline.
“That is why ECOWAS has taken it upon itself to ensure that when Ghana controls its weapons and Togo and Burkina Faso are not doing it the weapons will still come.” Asked about the number of weapons trickling into the country following this trade Mr Applerh said “that is very difficult to say, anything underground is very difficult to know.”
Meanwhile West African Action Network on Small Arms (WAANSA) says increased unemployment in the country is fueling the trade. The organisation puts the figure of light weapons circulating in Ghana at between 400,000 and 1million.
President of the organisation Baffour Amoa told Joy FM it’s time to plug all loopholes leading to the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.
“A lot of young people are unemployed these days and we know that it’s also a source of demand for arms because a lot of people think that if I can get some arms and attack people I’ll be able to get money easily. It’s a business. As far as we have high unemployment we should be prepared for this,” Mr Amoa said.