The Customs Laboratory became fully-established with backing from the Customs Act, 2015 (Act 891) in accordance with the requirements of the World Customs Organisation.
The Customs Laboratory serves as the scientific wing of the GRA which tests a wide range of goods primarily for customs classification purposes. These tests are generally determined by the nature of goods being traded across the various Points of Entry and Exit (POE).
While a large number of goods can be correctly examined by a comparison of visual examination with documentation review, many more commodities require scientific tests to ascertain their identities, descriptions and specifications in order to provide adequate information and basis for taxation and customs control purposes.
There are two categories of laboratory staff depending on where they are stationed. Officers stationed in the central laboratory near Kotoka International Airport (KIA) and laboratory staff stationed at the various Points of Entry and Exit e.g. Elubo, Takoradi and Tema, inspect goods such as foods, medicines, cosmetics, medical devices, industrial chemicals and radioactive substances. They forward mandatory, contentious and suspicious goods to the laboratory for chemical analysis or confirmatory tests. Having a customs laboratory means having the capability within a customs administration to make identification and characterization of goods passing through the country’s borders.
The versatility of the Customs Laboratory has come to the fore during the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Scientists at the Customs Laboratory formulated the GRA Alcohol hand rub which received approval of the Foods and Drugs Authority (FDA) as a potent sanitizer for combatting the pandemic. These sanitizers have since been deployed to all collections and GRA offices nationwide for sanitizing the hands and all touchable surfaces.
The laboratory has also teamed up with the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology to provide mobile testing for the SARS CoV-2 virus in an effort to control its spread in the country. This collaboration has seen the repurposing of customs mobile laboratories to be used for testing at identified hotspots within the country.
The customs laboratory is thus a tool that does not only enhance revenue generation, but also accurate and speedy clearance while securing the trade value chain and protecting humanity and the environment.