OccupyGhana® Calls On Government To Immediately Address The Filth Engulfing The Country

OccupyGhana® Calls On Government To Immediately Address The Filth Engulfing The Country

1st MARCH 2018

OCCUPYGHANA® PRESS STATEMENT

OCCUPYGHANA® CALLS ON GOVERNMENT TO IMMEDIATELY ADDRESS THE FILTH ENGULFING THE COUNTRY 

OccupyGhana® has noted with concern the huge swathes of plastic and other solid and human waste engulfing our country, especially our capital. It is rapidly reaching an alarming state and photographs taken after the recent downpour in parts of Accra in the morning of Wednesday 14th February 2018 have thrown this looming and potentially disastrous health and security problem into sharp focus.

We have also been monitoring how the matter of sanitation is being addressed by Government and we are concerned about Government’s commitment to resolve it

It appears that in spite of the establishment of the new Ministry of Sanitation & Water Resources, little has been done to confront and remove the filth engulfing our country. The reality is that by the Local Governance Act, 2016 (Act 936) and its predecessor statute, issues of sanitation are to be handled by the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Authorities (MMDAs). There are also the provisions of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency Act, 1998 (Act 564), and the functions assigned to that Agency. This legislative dilemma is compounded by the Environmental Sanitation provisions under Part Five of the Public Health Act, 2012 (Act 851), falling within the remit of the Ministry of Health. We therefore have doubts as to what the Ministry will do and achieve when it technically has no legislative mandate to handle sanitation anywhere in the country, unless its role is to coordinate the activities of all the legislatively-mandated bodies on issues of sanitation.

We have taken note of the National Sanitation Campaign launched by the President in November 2017, which does not appear to have made any real impact in resolving the problem yet. Under this campaign, there were to be:

  1. Introduction of automated street sweepers.
  2. The formation of a National Sanitation Brigade.
  3. Appointment of Sanitation Marshalls and Deputies in Municipal and District Assemblies; these appointments were to have been made within one week of the announcement by the President.

None of these initiatives appear to have started, with no clear cut time frame on when and how the Ministry of Sanitation & Water Resources intends to roll out the program.

The President also indicated that he and the Minister for Monitoring & Evaluation would evaluate the performance of all Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) and publish the results of their performance. We think that it would be very apt if the agreed Key Performance Indices used to evaluate them are published so that as Citizens we can monitor and score our MMDCEs on sanitation issues.

We also call upon our MMDAs and Ghana Police to rigidly enforce our laws regarding littering the environment, refuse disposal and open defecation, and charge and prosecute offenders. There are the specific provisions under sections 13(3) and 14 of the Local Governance Act, which empower them to enforce the provisions of section 296 (1) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29) and section 56 the Public Health Act. These laws contain the penalties for breaches. We see no reason why the laws should not be strictly enforced and offenders punished. We urge the MMDAs and Ghana Police to enforce them without delay.

We urge the Government, acting through the MMDAs, to confront this menace before the impending rainy season, which comes with diseases such as cholera, a direct consequence of poor sanitation. OccupyGhana® is convinced that as a people we should ingrain the practice of keeping our surroundings clean on a continuous basis and not restrict it to periodic nationwide clean up exercises. To achieve this, the bodies tasked with sanitation responsibilities by law, must strictly apply our sanitation laws, carry out intensive and sustained public education and build a new positive attitude in our citizens toward caring for and protecting the environment. This must be done without any further delay.

We also urge Ghanaians to desist from littering the environment, refrain from disposing refuse improperly and stop the practice of open defecation. We must all strive as a people to live up to our dying national maxim: “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”.

The fight for a clean environment cannot be delayed further.

Let us Keep Ghana Clean!

OccupyGhana®

OCCUPYGHANA® Calls For New Rules On Lpg Dispensing Stations And Trucks

OCCUPYGHANA® Calls For New Rules On Lpg Dispensing Stations And Trucks

9th OCTOBER 2017

OCCUPYGHANA® PRESS STATEMENT

OCCUPYGHANA® CALLS FOR NEW RULES ON LPG DISPENSING STATIONS AND TRUCKS

The explosion and fire that occurred at the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) dispensing station at the Atomic Junction on the night of October 7th, 2017, is another reminder that the Government and the regulators it appoints need to produce a permanent solution to this issue. There have been eight reported gas explosions within the last 3 years. These are eight occurrences too many.

The fact that several of these LPG dispensing stations are sited in close proximity to markets, chop-bars, shops, lorry stations, and residential areas causing residents to complain, means we have a major problem with adherence to our zoning laws. It also means that we should have the strictest of safety standards, and regulate the siting or existence of these dispensing stations, and most importantly, the discharge of gas from tankers into the site storage tanks. It is critical that the industry players adhere to strict safety rules, comply with standard operating procedures, and have both a perfect maintenance culture and adequately trained staff. There must be periodic, routine and unannounced stress testing and drills including evacuation procedures. Clearly, this training must go beyond the staff to others living or operating in close proximity to these dispensing stations.

We must have and enforce rules that treat the tankers that carry the gas for dispensing almost as ‘weaponised trucks’ that must obtain and maintain special permits and pressure gauges that will indicate if there are any leakages at any time during the transport and discharge.

Until these measures are tried, tested, and put in place, OccupyGhana® would recommend the banning of all on-site dispensing of gas. We side with the decision of the National Petroleum Authority to regulate the downstream gas distribution by phasing out refilling of LPG gas at LPG dispensing stations. Thus, instead of having LPG dispensing outlets, all gas cylinders will be filled by cylinder bottling plants for onward distribution to retail outlets.

We know that LPG distributors have met this decision with fierce resistance. However, in the interest of the health and safety of service providers, consumers and the general public, we urge the regulators to put these measures in place and enforce the zonal laws for the siting of fuel and LPG gas stations.

In the meantime, we urge all the regulators- the NPA, EPA, Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, the GNFS, the Ghana Standards Authority- to ensure that strict safety rules are enforced at filling stations especially during discharge.

Yours in the service of God and Country,

OccupyGhana®

OCCUPYGHANA® PRESENTS RELIEF ITEMS TO SIERRA LEONE

OCCUPYGHANA® PRESENTS RELIEF ITEMS TO SIERRA LEONE

On Wednesday, August 30, 2017, the pressure group OccupyGhana®, donated assorted medical supplies to the Sierra Leone High Commissioner in Ghana to aid in the ongoing relief efforts following the catastrophic mudslides in Regent near Freetown on August 14, 2017.

The items were made up of 16 cartons of all types of intravenous fluids, 400 pieces of intravenous sets, 400 pieces of different intravenous cannulas, antibiotics in intravenous and oral forms including Ceftriaxone, Ciprofloxacin, Cefuroxime ,   antimalarials like  Artemether Inj,  Artesunate Lumefantrine in tablet and suspension forms, analgesics including Paracetamol in tablet and syrup forms, Ibuprofen in  tablets and syrup forms, Diclofenac in injection and tablet forms, oral rehydration salts, blood tonics and vitamins, antibiotic eye drops, 3 cartons of Chlorine bleach, dressings including gauzes, plasters, cotton wool, bandages, syringes, needles and examination gloves.

Making the presentation were OccupyGhana® members Dr Radha Hackman, Mr Kwaku Segbefia and Mr Sydney Casely-Hayford. In his remarks on behalf of the group, Mr Casely-Hayford, a leading member of OccupyGhana®, said that the catastrophic events of August 14 saddened most people across the continent and that the gesture was not only humane but also a reflection of the old bond that existed between the two countries.

“In times like these, no nation or society should stand alone, for such pain and suffering touches not only the people of Sierra Leone but all of humanity. Also, to a Ghanaian, Sierra Leone is not just another country but a nation with whom we share a strong bond that dates back over a 100 years. “, Mr. Casely-Hayford said.

The items, which were addressed to the Office of the Sierra Leonean First Lady, were received by the Sierra Leonean High Commissioner to Ghana, H.E. Justice Umu Hawa Tejan-Jalloh.

In her heartfelt remarks as she received the donation, she expressed the appreciation of the people of Sierra Leone to OccupyGhana®, adding that she had been overwhelmed by the level of support from the government and people of Ghana in the aftermath of the tragic disaster in Regent, Sierra Leone.

“The relationship between Ghana and Sierra Leone is second to none in the West Region. The relationship has spanned centuries and we can only continue to pray that the ties will flourish and develop from strength to strength,” she said.

She marvelled at the timeliness of the donation since she and her staff had been discussing ways of acquiring medical supplies for her country. She explained that a medical disaster was highly possible since the mountains near Regent were the source of drinking water for all of Freetown. She pointed out that it was feared that, that source was probably contaminated by all the dead bodies and that the contamination could lead to spread of water-borne diseases. She pointed out that the donated supplies would go a long way in helping to combat any such medical calamity.

“This is a great humanitarian gesture which only a sister or brother can do for another sister or brother,” she added.

The mudslides have claimed close to a 1000 lives and has made over 4000 Sierra Leoneans homeless. The country, which is trying to recover from the scourge of Ebola not too long ago, needs all the help it can get. We at OccupyGhana® thus appeal to all Ghanaians to donate in all possible ways to the rescue and rehabilitation efforts in Sierra Leone.

Yours in the service of God and Country,

OccupyGhana®

OccupyGhana® Supports Formation Of Ministerial Committee With An Expanded Mandate To Investigate All Sales Of Allegedly Contaminated Products By BOST

OccupyGhana® Supports Formation Of Ministerial Committee With An Expanded Mandate To Investigate All Sales Of Allegedly Contaminated Products By BOST

5th JULY, 2017

OCCUPYGHANA® PRESS STATEMENT

OCCUPYGHANA® SUPPORTS FORMATION OF MINISTERIAL COMMITTEE WITH AN EXPANDED MANDATE TO INVESTIGATE ALL SALES OF ALLEGEDLY CONTAMINATED PRODUCTS BY BOST

OccupyGhana® has been observing with keen interest, the matters and issues arising from the sale of some fuels by the Bulk Oil Storage & Transportation Company Ltd. (BOST), a company owned by the Republic of Ghana.

We were happy to wait for the results of the Ministerial Committee that was announced to investigate the matter, before making our comments public. That is why we want to place on record our objection to any person or institution trying to short-circuit, prejudge and prejudice the work of the Committee, even before it is formed.

Our attention has been drawn to what purports to be a report by the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI). The alleged report apparently attempts to absolve some key and critical actors in the matter. Had the alleged BNI Report simply set out facts that had come to its knowledge in the course of its investigations, OccupyGhana® would have had no quarrel with it. But, it appears that the BNI went further than that when it began to express opinions as to who is or is not culpable in the matter. We are vehemently opposed to that.

We insist that the work and the mandate of the Committee should continue, and that the alleged report at best be considered as one of the materials that the Committee may consider, and with liberty, based on evidence that it might recover, to agree or disagree with what is contained in the BNI Report.

We say these because this BNI Report is so deficient in several, material ways and leaves so many questions unanswered that it is difficult to agree with several of its opinions and conclusions.

Some of these questions are as follows:

  1. Who purchased and imported the product into Ghana, and from whom?
  2. How much was paid for it?
  3. Who was in charge of holding or storing the product until it was sold or otherwise disposed of?
  4. Under what circumstances and under whose control did the product become “contaminated”?
  5. Exactly how did the “contamination” happen?
  6. Exactly when did the “contamination” happen and/or when was it discovered?
  7. Was the product “contaminated” through negligence, criminal activity or any other illegal or wrongful act, and if so, who was responsible for it?
  8. Were there any remedial measures that could have been taken to “un-contaminate” or purify the product apart from selling it in the “contaminated” state, and if so were those measures feasible?
  9. Did BOST obtain the technical report that is a mandatory requirement for disposal of property under section 83(1) of the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663), and if so, who prepared that report and what did it say?
  10. Did BOST convene a Board of Survey to report on the product, and if so, did that Board recommend the best method of disposal of the product?
  11. Did the relevant BOST officer complete a Board of Survey Form, and if so, what did the Form say?
  12. Were the Board of Survey’s recommendations, if any, approved by the head of BOST, and if so, when?
  13. If the cause of the “contamination” was other than “wear and tear” (to the extent that this term may even be applicable to the product in question), what procedure was established by the Board of Survey for handling any losses, and to what extent was that procedure followed before the product was disposed of?
  14. Did the disposal of the product comply with the relevant portions of section 84 of Act 663, particularly by public tender to the highest bidder or by public auction, each being subject to reserve price?
  15. Which entities submitted bids or participated in the auction, and how much did each bid?
  16. Was due diligence conducted on those entities to, at the very least, ascertain (i) if they had been duly formed or incorporated, (ii) who were the human players behind those entities, and (iii) whether the entities are duly registered by the National Petroleum Authority to engage in that business?
  17. Was the Board of Directors of BOST involved in this transaction at all, and if so what do the relevant Board minutes say?
  18. If any of the provisions and procedures under Part VII of Act 663 were not followed, what steps are being taken to exact the civil and criminal sanctions prescribed by that Act for its breach?
  19. Has Ghana suffered any financial loss from this transaction, and if so, are there grounds to charge anyone with the offence of “causing financial loss”?

Any report on this matter, including the BNI Report, which does not raise or even answer any of these relevant legal questions is not worthy of any serious consideration. We fully expect that these, among several others, are what the Committee will deal with and address in the course of its investigations.

It is on these grounds that, first, we urge the Committee to be fully composed forthwith and for it to commence its work. Second, we will urge the Committee and its members (when constituted) to be independent, to be completely unfazed by any reports of any other institutions or persons, and to resist any attempts to allow such reports to influence its work. Third, we place on record our opposition to any attempt to restrict or limit the Committee’s mandate or terms of reference. Fourth, it is our considered opinion that the Committee’s mandate should be extended to cover and investigate all similar transactions that have occurred since BOST was formed.

OccupyGhana® wishes to state, in conclusion, that we expect the highest form of professionalism and respect to be given to Ghanaians, particularly by state institutions paid and supported with our tax monies to work for us and to protect our interest(s). We call on all, particularly state institutions and their employees, to always remember the duty that is placed on “every citizen” by Article 41(f) of the Constitution “to protect and preserve public property, and expose and combat misuse and waste of public funds and property.” We are all bound by this constitutional obligation in all such situations because, “it is not merely of some importance, but of fundamental importance that justice should not only be done, but should MANIFESTLY and UNDOUBTEDLY be seen to be done.”

Yours, in the perpetual Service of God & Country

OccupyGhana®

Republic V. En Huang & 4 Others – OccupyGhana® Acknowledges Changes In Charges

Republic V. En Huang & 4 Others – OccupyGhana® Acknowledges Changes In Charges

23rd May, 2017

OCCUPYGHANA® PRESS STATEMENT

REPUBLIC V. EN HUANG & 4 OTHERS – OCCUPYGHANA® ACKNOWLEDGES CHANGES IN CHARGES

OccupyGhana® is happy to learn that the charges filed in court in the case of Republic v. En Huang & 4 Others, where the accused persons are alleged to have been engaged in illegal mining in Ghana, have been amended and fresh charges brought, this time under the provisions of the Minerals & Mining Act.

It would be recalled that although the accused persons had been arrested for allegedly being engaged in illegal mining, the charges filed against them in court were relatively minor immigration offences that did not reflect the severity of the alleged acts.

OccupyGhana® consequently obtained a certified copy of the Charge Sheet and immediately petitioned the Attorney-General over the charges, requesting the filing of the proper charges under the Minerals & Mining Act.

OccupyGhana® is therefore gratified that the proper charges have now been filed. It gives the State the opportunity to prosecute for the proper offences and also affords the accused persons the opportunity to defend themselves against those charges.

The fight against galamsey is multifaceted, and it is only when we all put our shoulders to the wheel and occupy our democratic space that things will work.

In this direction, OccupyGhana® would like to commend the Media Coalition Against Galamsey, and other media houses for the collective efforts they are making to bring the menace under control.

We reiterate our earlier call to the Government and all Ghanaians that the fight against illegal mining in Ghana is a fight to protect, not only the present, but the future of this country. It is therefore imperative that the law must be applied to all who fall foul of it, without fear or favour.

Yours in the service of God and Country,

OccupyGhana®

OCCUPYGHANA® Stands With the President on Calling Galamsey Bluff

OCCUPYGHANA® Stands With the President on Calling Galamsey Bluff

1st May, 2017
OCCUPYGHANA® PRESS STATEMENT

OCCUPYGHANA® STANDS WITH THE PRESIDENT ON CALLING GALAMSEY BLUFF

OccupyGhana® is encouraged by President Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo-Addo calling the bluff of Galamsey operators in his speech at a durbar of the chiefs and people of Akyem Wenchi last week.
The threat by Galamsey operators not to vote for the NPP in the next general election was meant to frighten the government and the presidency into slowing down on, or abandoning the clamp down on illegal mining.
The President’s outright refusal to compromise on this issue speaks volumes of his desire to be on the right side of history and action in this matter, irrespective of the potential political cost to him or his party.
This is a good example to all Ghanaians.
We have tried, along with our media partners and other well-meaning groups and individuals to bring to the forefront of national debate the egregious effects of this menace on our water bodies, lands, health, our communities and the nation at large.
This is a fight that must be fought together by all Ghanaians and cannot be won without the support of the citizens, the government and, most of all, the President of the nation.
That is why we are pleased at the stance taken and leadership provided by the President in this matter. We hope that the fight against this scourge will continue on an even higher level.
With the President taking the lead and the support of all well-meaning Ghanaians, we will win!

Yours in the service of occupying minds for God and Country
OccupyGhana®