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Regional News of Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Source: Ivan Heathcote - Fumador

CSOs, Kumasi residents demand action on environmental protection

Participants at this year's conference Participants at this year's conference

Residents of Kumasi have taken frontline agencies in sanitation and environmental protection on, at the third Accountability - Rule - of - law - and – anticorruption – Program (ARAP) held in the Ashanti regional capital.

The conference focused on Environmental Governance with key attention on Illegal Mining, Deforestation and Noise Pollution.

According to a study on “Public opinion on Corruption; Public Accountability and Environmental Governance in Ghana”; 39.6% of respondents mentioned illegal mining as their most pressing environmental concern.

The research conducted by the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) with funding from the European Union (EU) also established that 3% and 0.3% of Ghanaians rated Deforestation and Noise Pollution as their biggest environmental concerns.

Opening the 3rd ARAP confab to deliberate on solutions to these teething environmental challenges; the chairperson for the NCCE Josephine Nkrumah painted the clearest picture of the dangers of climate change and its effect on global temperatures and sustainability of the earth’s lives and natural habitats.

She however warned that until Ghana implements its fine laws on environmental protection to the letter; the country will continue to grapple with filth; pollution and degradation.

As a country we continue to grapple with many environmental issues; galamsey, sanitation, deforestation, wanton destruction of our water bodies, e-waste disposal, air and noise pollution and marine environmental pollution. But what causes this challenge; is it ignorance, impunity, or the lack of proper implementation of the policies and the proper implementation of the legal framework?” She questioned.

Touching on the menace of illegal mining, the Chairman for the media coalition against illegal mining; Ken Ashigbey bemoaned what he called the laxity of the state to galamsey an expensive and punitive offence.

He challenged the president Nana Akufo Addo to go beyond his recent tacit admissions of failure to prosecute the Galamsey Queenpin Aisha Huang and rather ensure that such infractions do not recur.

Mr Ken Ashigbey also took it hard on the minister of Lands and Natural Resources Kwaku Asomah Kyeremeh for scoring his ministry an 80% plaudit for dealing with the menace of illegal mining without any Key Performance Indices to measure the said progress.

Participants flared up at the Acting Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency John Pwamang when he insisted that the EPA would be courting too much trouble if it kept using the courts to force Assemblies to enforce environmental laws.

He contended that the EPA;s role as a regulator was to take action against the Assemblies for failing to collect waste but added that “if EPA is actually suppose to play its key role in terms of waste management, we will be going to court every day and this is not good for environmental governance.”

The Operations Manager of the forestry Commission Kwakye Ameyaw who also stirred the hornets nest was pushed to answer on the illegal rose wood logging after he insisted on evading the question with the excuse that his boss had adequately delt with that matter of contention.

Mr Kwakye Ameyaw parried blame in the fight against the logging of Rose Wood insisting that until the public played a collaborative role, it will be difficult to protect the high priced endangered wood species.

The panel was subjected to scrutiny and grilling by the Civil Society Organisations and members of the public who expressed disappointment in state agencies for showing little leadership in dealing with the menace of filth and environmental degradation.

The Chief of the Frafra Community in the Ashanti region who also chairs the Council of Zongo Chiefs Naba Musa Akanbonga noted that Ghana has not been able to deal with the menace of environmental degradation because of impunity, corruption and fear of political persecution tying the hands of leaders at their backs.

Some of the participants called for all heads of frontline state regulatory agencies to be made to publicly sign performance contracts and account to the public for their stewardship.

The Ashanti region director of the NCCE Wilson Arthur indicated that his outfit will be devoting efforts into environmental protection outreaches to ensure that the ARAP conference makes an impact in the wider community.
Views coalesced from the conference are expected to feed into an action plan stating Ghana’s commitment towards the global fight against the negative impact of climate change.