I may not be smart enough to understand the privileged position those who are employed at the Ghana High Commission in London occupy—one that requires that the Ghanaian population they are paid to serve, must rather worship them and beg before they offer the basic services they are paid to provide.
It’s London, but it seems those who work at the Ghana High Commission have imported, on wholesale, the hovering gross incompetence and inherent arrogance of civil servants in Ghana to the UK—with which they either purposefully or unknowingly frustrate Ghanaians who without choice fall on their services.
Nearly every Ghanaian who has dealt with the Ghana High Commission in the UK has something unpleasant to say. And that’s me being extremely generous with my words.
The High Commission in the UK has for many years become the motherlode of incompetence and poor services—obviously borne out of its statutory monopoly and the lack of any proper supervision of its politically-coloured staff.
Over the years, the byzantine bureaucracy, the infestation of incompetent political appointees and arbitrary rules set by condescending unprofessional staff at the Commission have made it the last place any reasonable person would wish to have a business at.
I try to avoid the Ghana High Commission in the UK because of the simple fact that anytime you visit, it reminds you, in a highly cruel albeit true manner, why Ghana is swimming in a pool of relapse, corruption and in ineptitude. In fact, the staff at the High Commission are quintessential Ghanaian civil servants; rude, unhelpful and have this belligerent sense of doing you a favour when you are paying them for a job.
It does not really matter what takes you to the Ghana High Commission in London—be it an issue with your Ghanaian passport, a visa, attestation of a marriage certificate or an attempt to obtain a CRB check from Ghana, you are guaranteed the same abysmal service—without any proper channel to raise a complaint even if you are deeply offended or feel slightly ‘defrauded’ by comparing the exorbitant amount charged to the unprofessional service they render.
At best, you would swear never to go back there again. But the legal monopoly the Commission enjoys over many things means, you would one day reluctantly visit, and meet the same layers of unprofessionalism again.
Beyond the above, information about processes is not well defined by the Commission and this ties into the unending frustration service users face. For instance, if you are a Ghanaian in the UK illegally and you have lost your passport which you do not have a photocopy of, what alternative documents can you provide to aid your acquisition of a new Ghanaian passport?
This is the situation an individual I came across has found himself and for weeks, various staff members at the High Commission, including the so-called heads of departments, have rudely thrown at him a pile of rubbish—such that he has not still been able to resolve this matter as there are no set procedures. Staff members seem to say and do whatever they want, and somehow think they are doing you grand favour even in the discharge of their duties, for which they are paid with taxpayers’ money to perform.
You are supposed to be a bimbo—don’t ask them questions because they are not trained to deal with.
A friend of mine who is joining the RAF needed to get a CRB check from Ghana last week and as someone who resides in the UK, it was mentioned to him that the Ghana High Commission provides such a service for a fee.
When he visited the Ghana High Commission, he was told the person in charge of this service has gone to Ghana for holidays. That does not seem like a problem as someone ought to temporary step in while this employee enjoys the sun in Ghana—right? But he was told that the woman who has gone to Ghana is the only person who deals with this.
When the friend asked: ‘so when is she coming back’, he was told that they do not have any idea as to when she will return. This sounds completely ridiculous but true. He was advised to go and buy a plane ticket and go to Ghana for the CRB Check if he really needs it.
Another friend recently spent more than 5 hours at the High Commission, only to submit a passport application when he had an appointment.
And the stories sail through, with the same offensive melody.
The Ghana High Commission UK’s long-standing unprofessionalism, currently at an astronomical level, stretches beyond the reach of those who only visit. If you wish to avoid the face-to-face indiscretion of those championing it at the Commission by relying on a phone call, you should be ready to stay on the phone for hours, without anyone answering the call.
It’s even weird how a phone can ring for that long, without any person answering it during working hours. How is this happening in the UK? Because no one is holding anyone out there accountable for their actions and omissions.
But then again, it’s the home of Ghanaians—housing the same attitudes which have crippled Ghana.
While the Commission ought to be the most welcoming and helpful place for Ghanaians abroad, it’s the one place to avoid, for Ghanaians—literally.
Chris-Vincent Agyapong Febiri, Founding Editor of GhanaCelebrities.com