Friday, June 26, 2009

More floods at Darkuman Junction (Spread)

Seven days after the western part of the national capital experienced one of the worst floods in recent times, there seems to be no end to the situation.
The rains of yesterday morning once again rendered portions of the Mallam-Kaneshie road partially impassable as vehicles had to drive through water and mud to get to safer grounds.
The worst situation occurred around the Darkuman Junction, Atico-Mitsubishi area and the road stretching from the Overhead Bridge through to the UBA, Fidelity and Inter-Continental banks at Mpamprom, as well as the Obetsebi-Lamptey Circle.
A large number of commuters who wanted to get to other parts of the city from Kaneshie were stranded, as many passenger vehicles were seen parked along the road.
By 9.30 a.m. when the Daily Graphic visited the Kaneshie First Light and its environs, traders who suffered losses during last week’s floods and were trying to get their wares dried out had to quickly pack them back into their shops.
Some residents around the Takoradi Station area who spoke to the Daily Graphic expressed dissatisfaction with the attitude of the city authorities.
Madam Oboshie Annan, 50, who said she lost her property during the last floods, said she found it difficult to understand why seven whole days after the area had witnessed such massive destruction nothing concrete seemed to have happened.
“They came to tell us that the drains were choked, hence the floods, yet nothing has been done about the drains. If they can’t construct new ones now, can’t they at least desilt the existing ones for rain water to flow freely?” she queried.
A dressmaking apprentice at a shop near Citadel House at Kaneshie, Ms Alice Boakye, said it would be unfortunate if the city authorities did not do anything about the choked drains but waited for another disaster to occur.
The National Co-ordinator of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), Mr Kofi Portuphy, has, however, appealed to residents of Accra to support the city authorities to make the city safe from disaster.
Referring to plans by the inter-ministerial task force to demolish structures on watercourses, he expressed worry at the situation where some people tended to sympathise with wrongdoers which, in a way, discouraged those who wanted to do the right thing.
As the floods also lead to huge deposits of garbage in the affected areas, workers of Zoomlion (Ghana) Limited continue to clear the garbage at the Kaneshie Market and its environs days after the area was hit by the severe floods, reports Naa Lamiley Bentil.
Already, the waste management experts have dispatched more than 60 tipper trucks to a final disposal site at Abokobi in the Ga East District of the Greater Accra Region, as the Mallam dumping site has temporarily been closed.
A visit to the Takoradi Station at Kaneshie on Wednesday where the company was working showed the enormity of destruction that last Friday’s floods caused to property.
Personal effects such as clothes, shoes, bags, electronic items, including fridges, television sets, mattresses, books had all been rendered useless and their owners have, consequently, dumped them along the streets where Zoomlion is working.
The Greater Accra Zonal Officer of the company, Mr Robert Coleman, told the Daily Graphic in an interview that it would take more than three weeks for the company to fully clear the mess.
The Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), which contracted Zoomlion to undertake the cleaning exercise, also asked it to desilt secondary drains to ensure free flow of water in the future and carry out periodic disinfestation of the area to prevent the outbreak of any communicable disease that might occur.
Mr Coleman said areas where those who died were found had already been fumigated and added that the company had deployed 350 of its personnel to the Kaneshie area, while the Member of Parliament for Ablekuma Central, Mr Theophilus Tetteh Chaie, had also released 120 of his foot soldiers to support the work.
Further, Mr Coleman said 10 tipper trucks and pay loaders, in addition to other logistics such as shovels and wheelbarrows had also been provided by the company to facilitate the evacuation.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Rain Disaster Victims Identified (Front Page)

THE seven people (five males and two females) who lost their lives in last Friday’s floods that occurred in the western part of Accra have been identified.
They include 80-year-old Victor Amukwei Tetteh from James Town (Kweikuma Tsoshishi) and 36-year-old Pastor Isaac Oppong-Kusi of the Faith and Word Ministry at Kasoa who hails from Bekwai in the Ashanti Region.
The rest are 30-year-old Biney Walleh from the Central Region; 67-year-old Mary Essiem from Cape Coast (Coca-Cola Estate), 28-year-old Edjah Benyah from Elmina (Takoradi Bu) and Janet Ekum, four.
The seventh person, a Togolese male, was said to have visited the country a few days earlier.
They all got drowned in and around Kaneshie during the heavy downpour which lasted a little over two hours. None of the victims was pregnant, as had been speculated.
Four of the dead were said to be on board a 207 Benz bus travelling from Kasoa to Accra when they were caught in the floods at Kaneshie.
According to W.O. Gilbert Aniakwah of the Army Headquarters and brother-in-law of the late Pastor Oppong-Kusi, his brother-in-law, who was in the Benz bus, was in the company of a colleague pastor to an all-night church service in Accra when he met his death.
W.O. Aniakwah said the surviving pastor friend of his deceased brother-in-law told him that when it started raining heavily, it became difficult for the driver to see his way clear and that it was the deceased pastor who directed the driver as he drove through the floods.
He said while moving towards the Obetsebi-Lamptey Circle, a large volume of water entered the bus and filled it to the brim, and that as the passengers tried to flee the vehicle, those who could not swim got drowned.
The army officer, who looked worried, said the dead pastor was like a son to him because he cared for him when he was about nine till he left some few years ago after he had been ordained a pastor.
“I advised him to find himself a wife and he found himself a woman whom he was preparing to marry soon,” he said.
In an interview, the Greater Accra Regional Co-ordinator of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), Mr Winfred N. Tesia, said the organisation was having discussions with the various bereaved families on how best it could help in the burial of the deceased.
In a related development, Accra experienced another rainfall in the early hours of yesterday.
Although it was not as intense as the one experienced last Friday night, areas around Darkuman Junction, Atico, Bubuashie Police Quarters, Achimota Mile Seven, Sakaman and parts of Odorkor got flooded.
For fear of another disaster, many residents stayed at home as it rained between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., a situation that made many of the roads of the city empty of their usual heavy traffic.
A team of NADMO officials, led by the National Co-ordinator, Mr Kofi Portuphy, visited the flooded areas once again to assess the situation.
Mr Portuphy took the opportunity to appeal to those living in low lying areas to relocate to higher ground or risk losing their lives.

Police to declare war on land guards (Page 29)

THE police are soon to declare war on land guards who have been terrorising property owners and tenants in some parts of Accra.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic in Accra, the Regional Police Commander, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCOP), Rose Bio-Atinga, issued a strong warning, but also advised people who operated as land guards within the region to put immediate stop to it, saying “the police will soon get hard on them”.
She said within the next few weeks, a strong team with special orders would be deployed to deal with the situation.
She, therefore, appealed to chiefs and other opinion leaders in communities where the guards operated to advise them, but should not wait till the suspects were arrested before the they come to beg for their release.
DCOP Bio-Atinga said the police had received a number of complaints from people who had fallen victim to the activities of land guards, adding that it was time a lasting solution was found to this menace.
She also pointed out that activities of those guards at Weija and its environs were becoming rampant, a situation she said needed to be handled with all seriousness and with dispatch.
The Regional Police Commander stated that it was rather unfortunate the way those land guards terrorised people, and at times, succeeded in scaring them away from their properties just because they had collected money from other individuals to do their bidding for them.
She took the opportunity to advise all other criminals to desist from indulging in anti-social activities or have themselves to blame.
For his part, the Weija District Police Commander, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Kwame Gyasi Afari, told the Daily Graphic that a team of police officers from the Accra Region and the Kaneshie Divisional Command would be formed to deal with the land guard menace.
He said after reporting as the new district commander a few days ago, he had received a lot of complaints from residents about the activities of land guards who were making life rather uncomfortable for others.
Explaining how the guards operated in certain areas, ASP Afari said the phenomenon usually arose when landowners sold a portion of land to more than one buyer, and to help one of the buyers to secure that sold land, the buyer had to contract guards to protect it for him or her.
He also pointed out that in some other cases, some chiefs and community leaders deliberately got involved in the double sale of lands and turned to land guards, purposely to scare one of the buyers away.
The district commander explained that those guards used various methods in achieving their aim, which included breaking of walls and other structures, seizure of building tools from workers, extorting money from property owners as well as physically attacking anybody found on lands they thought they were supposed to guard.
ASP Afari added that to avoid finding themselves in any embarrassing situation, chiefs and other community leaders who indulged in selling such property to more than one person should have a change of mind, or else they would eventually find themselves at the wrong side of the law.

Accra still counts cost of flood disaster (Page 29)

THREE days after heavy floods had affected parts of Accra, residents are still counting their losses and praying for sunshine to enable them to dry their wet belongings.
Hopelessness and utter despair were what greeted anyone who visited any of the areas that was hit by the flash flood of last Friday night. Children in many of the affected homes looked rather weakened and despondent as their parents were too busy to care for them.
As early as 6.30am last Sunday when the Daily Graphic visited some of the affected areas, notably Mataheko, Atico, Kaneshie and Abossey Okai, both residents and shopkeepers were busily bringing out soaked items, some of which were still dripping with water.
Although many of the items were destroyed beyond redemption, their owners were seen moving them out onto the open in the hope of getting them dried up.
Some of the household items included mattresses, electrical appliances, clothing, footwear, furniture, carpets, wall hangings, curtains, suitcases, bags and in certain homes, uncooked food items that were destroyed.
To some, they would have felt being better if their items got wet, but all their belongings were unfortunately washed away completely.
As one moves along the main Mallam-Obetsebi Lamptey road, items which were supposed to be in shops were openly spread on pavements looking wet and good for nothing.
Such items included bags of cement, bundles of suiting materials, sewing machines, electrical appliances, children’s ware, second-hand clothing, hardware, among others.
Homes at Mataheko, Kaneshie and Sakaman were still filled with mud as residents continued to wash their clothing, cooking utensils and other items.
To enable vehicles move freely on the stretch of the Mallam-Kanashie road, which was washed away during the storm, city guards from the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) prevented hawkers who usually displayed their wares along the road, opposite the market, from operating along the shoulders of the streets.
Claiming that some of their items were destroyed during the rainfall, “the decongestive exercise” did not go down well with the traders who cursed the guards for being insensitive to their plight.
“Hawkers at Circle and Makola are still selling on the pavements. Why do they have to treat those of us who are already in dire need, because our items were destroyed,” a middle-aged man queried.
The owner of a nine-bedroom house around the Takoradi Station at Kaneshie, Madam Oboshie Laryea, said everything she had acquired within the past 52 years of her life was destroyed.
She said she left her house for friend’s funeral in another part of the city, only to return to see that her room had been flooded to the window level.
“I locked my door before leaving, so no one could enter the room to bring my belongings out,” she lamented.
In all the areas that the Daily Graphic visited, one thing that residents kept saying was that the government should come to their aid in these difficult times.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

More Rains Ahead, Meteo Warns (Front Page)

THE volume of rain that resulted in the death of seven people and a massive destruction of property in the western part of Accra has been estimated at 313.8 millimetres, one of the highest ever recorded by the Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMA).
Disclosing the details to the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday, a Senior Meteorologist of the agency, Mr Amos Narh, said the last time the agency recorded something near that was in the 1970s and warned of more serious disaster for residents of that part of Accra if watercourses remained blocked before the next downpour.
Giving reasons for Friday night’s disaster at Kaneshie and adjoining communities, Mr Narh said although there had been rain in other parts of the country, what occurred in the flooded communities was intense.
He compared the 313.8mm recorded in the disaster area to other areas such as Osu, where the volume of water recorded by the GMA at the same period was 2.5mm; Airport, 2.7mm; Mamprobi Polyclinic, 6.1mm, and Weija, 98.5mm.
Mr Narh cautioned that the situation needed urgent attention to avoid a disaster on a massive scale in the future, adding that “the rainy season is not yet over”.
He said unlike in the 1970s and the early 1980s when Accra recorded such high volumes of rainfall without any problems, the current relatively low volumes of rainfall were likely to cause havoc.
He attributed the current situation to human activities that made it difficult for rainwater to flow freely and called for immediate action to solve the problem.
Mr Narh said since no human being could prevent rainfall or its volume at any given time, it was important that the right measures were put in place to avoid the annual disaster.
He said residents of Accra were fortunate that the last storm had been localised and concentrated at a few areas.
Heavy floods in the western part of Accra on Friday night claimed at least seven lives and caused massive destruction to private and public property after two hours of rain.
Disaster managers described the floods as the most destructive in recent times, with the most affected places being Sakaman and Kaneshie.
The floods also washed away the bitumen on the main Kaneshie First Light-Mpamprom road and caused some of the vehicles caught in the rush-hour traffic to float and crash into one another.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Relocate, NADMO directs (Front Page)

OFFICIALS of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) in the Greater Accra Region have directed residents of flood-prone areas in the region to relocate and avoid another tragedy during the pending rains.
They also advised that all valuable items kept in those areas should be moved for safe-keeping in preparedness for any eventuality.
The Greater Accra Regional Co-ordinator of NADMO, Mr Winfred Nomotey Tesia, who led some officials on an inspection tour of parts of the Accra metropolis at the weekend, said although the organisation had made preparations to assist in times of disaster, people should not take chances, since it could not operate beyond what was humanly possible.
The areas identified as flood-prone are parts of Sakaman, Flamingo at Mataheko, Kaneshie Mpamprom, Awoshie along the Lafa River, Odorkor Sahara Hotel area, low lying areas at Mallam and Weija, as well as the Transformer Junction Down at Nii Boye Town.
Others are the Christian Methodist Senior High School at Asylum Down and its environs, parts of Sukura near Dansoman, low lying areas at Dome Pillar Two, the Dome Railway Crossing area, parts of Adentan and Westland Down (around Sober Hotel) at West Legon, all in Accra.
The rest are some localities at Tema Community Three, the Sakumono Lagoon area, as well as water-logged areas at Abokobi, Oyarifa, Ningo Old Town and parts of Dodowa.
Mr Tesia announced that NADMO had made preparations for floods in those areas, while the Ghana Air Force and the Ghana Navy had given assurance to assist with helicopters and dinghies to convey flood victims, but asked residents to also protect themselves.
“What happens if help comes too late? We are humans and anything can happen so why take chances?” he queried.
Visits to parts of the areas revealed that estate developers in the metropolis, especially those in the new settlements, had ignored building regulations and built anyhow, in some areas right in the middle of major water courses.
A case in point was a developer who was building very close to a drain at Westland Down at West Legon. The Regional NADMO Co-ordinator said he had warned the developer the previous day and visited the site the following day only to see that the building which had been at knee level had reached lintel level.
The inspection was done in the company of the Greater Accra Regional NADMO officer in charge of Operations, Mr Philip Adu; the Accra Metropolitan Assembly NADMO Co-ordinator, Mr Henry Plange, and the Principal Building Inspector of the Ayawaso Sub-Metropolitan Area, Mr Augustine Okai.


HEAVY floods in the western parts of Accra on Friday night claimed at least seven lives and caused massive destruction to private and public property after two hours of rain.
The names of the deceased are being withheld, while indications are that the casualty list could be higher.
Disaster managers described the floods as the most destructive in recent times, with the most affected places being Sakaman and Kaneshie.
The floods also washed away the bitumen on the main Kaneshie First Light-Mpamprom road and caused some of the vehicles caught in the rush-hour traffic to float and crash into one another.
According to the Deputy Accra Regional Police Commander, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Christian Yohuno, the seven casualties comprised five males and two females. The value of movable and immovable property destroyed is yet to be assessed.
Personnel from the 48 Engineers Regiment of the Ghana Armed Forces joined members of the Emergency Unit of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) to offer rescue services to some of those trapped in the disaster,
some of whom were all-night worshippers at the Royal House Chapel at the Obetsebi-Lamptey Circle who were carried to safer grounds by the soldiers about 11 p.m.
Houses in low lying areas at Mallam Junction, Sakaman, Awoshie, Santa Maria, Odorkor, Darkuman Junction, Atico Junction, Mataheko, North Kaneshie, Mpamprom and the Obetsebi-Lamptey Circle were filled with water, at some places above window level.
About 9 a.m. on Saturday morning when the Daily Graphic joined a team of government officials and security personnel, including the Police and the Ghana National Fire Service, as well as officials of NADMO, to assess the situation, hundreds of residents were seen moving already destroyed valuables from their rooms.
Twenty-eight-year-old Kojo Ninsin, who said he had taken refuge on the first floor of the First Choice Hair and Nail Parlour building at Mpamprom, said at a point he thought the sea had broken its banks into the city of Accra.
He said he could not believe it was rain water and as it got more frightening by the minute, he could not behold it any longer and so he had to cover his eyes with his wet shirt in an attempt to pray to God to save the city.
Many of the affected residents whom the Daily Graphic spoke to could not believe the volume of water that filled their homes because to them the rainfall was not that heavy.
They were shocked at the volumes of water that rushed to their homes within a very short time and in their attempt to find an explanation for that, they ended up giving different interpretations.
While some gave Biblical interpretations ti the occurrence and talked about end times, others pointed at the choked gutters and buildings on water courses. A few also pointed accusing fingers at personnel of the Aqua Vitens Rand Limited (AVRL) at the Weija water treatment site whom they suspected to have opened the dam whose flowing water might have added up to the rain water.
To ascertain the truth or otherwise of that accusation, the team of government officials, led by the Greater Accra Regional Minister, Nii Armah Ashietey, moved to the treatment plant where they were briefed by the Station Chemist at the site, Mr Hadisu Alhassan.
Mr Alhassan denied any wrongdoing on the part of the company. Although he confirmed that the company opened one of the five gates at the dam for water to spill out, he said that had been done after the disaster, adding that even if it had been done earlier, the six inches volume of water that went out could not have travelled to the areas where the disaster occurred.
His explanation seemed reasonable because none of the communities around the treatment site got flooded as they had had been in previous times when the dam was opened.
In the company of the regional minister during the inspection tour were the Deputy Minister of Roads and Highways, Mr Rojo Mettle-Nunoo; the Accra Metropolitan Chief Executive, Mr Alfred Vanderpuije; the Accra Regional Police Commander, DCOP Rose Bio-Atinga; the Ga South Municipal Chief Executive, Sheriff Nii Otto Dodoo; the Greater Accra Regional Co-ordinator of NADMO, Mr Winfred Lomotey Tesia; the Director of Operations at the Police Headquarters, ACP Richmond Boi-Bi-Boi; as well as ACP Yohuno, the second-in-command in Accra.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Aero Contractors introduces online payment (Page 29)

June 20-06-09

AERO Contractors Company of Nigeria Limited, flight operators, has introduced an online service to enable its customers to purchase tickets online.
The online payment systems, which has been developed in partnership with Amalgamated Bank (Amalbank) and e-Tranzact, also allows customers to book in advance and pay for their tickets at the site of the Lagos-based airline.
With this service, customers can obtain smart cards from Amalbank, loadable at any of its automated teller machines (ATM) as well as e-Tranzact point of sale terminals.
The cards could then be used to purchase a ticket online or from designated Aero Contractors ticket agents.
The Deputy Minister for Transport, Ms Dzifa Ativor, launched the product and urged the partner companies to put in place in-built mechanism to check cyber fraud.
The deputy minister said one issue that had affected companies in Africa was the lack of a workable partnership which could help smaller ventures grow to benefit the people on the continent.
She, therefore, commended the collaboration between the Aero Contractors, e-Tranzact and Amalbank and expressed the hope that they would move beyond air travel services to other sectors.
The Managing Director Amalbank, Mr Menson Torkornoo, gave the assurance that the companies would offer good and efficient service to the Ghanaian public, saying they would be able to buy tickets from the comfort of their homes and offices.
“This is the partnership that has the promise to deliver more value to our cherished customers. We have plans to use this as platform to launch more value added services for your benefit,” he stated.
Mr George Babafemi, the chief operating officer of eTRANZACT, said the eTRANZACT card would not only be used on an ATM but also as an electronic online payment device.
He said the online ticketing service was a means of achieving eTRANSACT’s mission of rendering convenient, secure and cost-effective to its customers.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Show commitment to civic responsibilities — MCE Adentan (Page 17)

THE Adentan Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), Mrs Nubyl Kakra VanLare, has urged Ghanaians to show commitment to their civic responsibilities and refrain from taking advantage of the needy and vulnerable in society.
She expressed concern over the way some Ghanaians took delight in profiting at the expense of others who were in need, saying, “It is even worse when such actions are illegal.”
Mrs VanLare gave the advice when she interacted with representatives of the Water Sellers Association of Adjirigannor in the Adentan municipality to deliberate on the plight of residents and how they could get potable water in their homes.
Present at the meeting were the Member of Parliament (MP) for Adentan, Mr Kojo Adu Asare; the Presiding Member (PM) of the assembly, Madam Gladys Gillian Naadu Tetteh, as well as some assembly members.
The MCE said for the rest of the people in the municipality to get access to potable water which they paid for, the activities of people who stored water in large containers to illegally sell to others at higher prices should be stopped.
The Adentan municipality has experienced acute water shortage over the years, a situation some residents attribute to the illegal connection of water by some of the water sellers and also population explosion.
Apart from the residents not getting water for their daily use, the government also loses revenue, since those water sellers are either illegally connected or do not pay the correct rate to the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL).
Mrs VanLare said there was the need for stringent measures to be taken to stop the activities of those sellers to ensure uninterrupted water supply to the homes of people who were genuinely in need.
She added that although some of the water sellers had legally connected pipes to their various localities, they had no licence to operate as commercial entities and asked them to regularise their operations or they would be made to stop operating entirely.
She gave the assurance that in addition to checking the illegal operators, efforts would be made to solve the acute water problem which had been affecting residents.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ensure due diligence in execution of projects (page 15)

THE Greater Accra Regional Co-ordinator of National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), Mr Winfred Nomotey Tesia, has called on district chief executives to take particular interest in infrastructural projects that are carried out in their respective districts to get value for money.
He argued that scarce resources could be saved for other national developments if those in charge of national projects ensured due diligence in the execution of projects.
The regional co-ordinator gave the advice when his outfit presented 200 pieces of roofing sheets to be used for re-roofing of a three-classroom block at Otinibi in the Ga East Municipality in the Greater Accra Region.
Mr Tesia said more often than not, resources which could have been used for additional projects for the benefit of the people had to be used to rehabilitate existing ones.
“Many government projects get destroyed soon after completion, because they are not properly done,” he pointed out.
The roofing of the building, which was said to have been commissioned not long ago, ripped off during a rainstorm that hit Otinibi and its environs on May 31, 2009.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic in Accra, the regional co-ordinator said it was unfortunate that contractors who were employed to work on government projects did shoddy work, but no one seem to care.
He advised that it would serve the nation a lot if people who were assigned responsibility to oversee the construction of government projects did what was expected of them.
Receiving the roofing sheets on behalf of the school, the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for Ga East Municipal Assembly, Mr Kwao Sackey, gave the assurance that the building would be re-roofed as soon as possible to enable schoolchildren who were studying under trees to come back to their classrooms.
He promised to monitor the work of contractors in the municipality and expressed gratitude to the regional NADMO office for responding swiftly to their call.

R R Amponsah Is Dead (Political Page)

June 10, 2009

ONE of the stalwarts of the United Party (UP) tradition, which has changed names over the years to become the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr R.R. Amponsah,died on Wednesday,June 3, 2009.
Mr Amponsah, a leading member of the NPP, and a holder of several political positions during his long political career, died at the age of 89 after a short illness.
He once served as Minister of Education under Dr K.A. Busia’s Progress Party (PP) government during the Second Republic.
Considered one of the most prominent Ghanaians who espoused different political ideas from that of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), Mr R.R. Amponsah was forced into exile with others from both the CPP and UP traditions under Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s regime.
With the same conviction, he together with Messrs Victor Owusu, Apaloo, William Ofori-Atta, Dzenkle Dzewu and Joe Appiah, who were former parliamentarians, were convicted for planning a military coup with one Major Awhaitey and imprisoned under the CPP regime.
Those who went into exile included Prof Busia, one time parliamentary leader of the opposition, and Oheneba Kow Richardson, the General Secretary of the then proscribed United Party (UP).
Two other opposition members died in exile. They were Amponsah Dadzie, one time Member of Parliament for Cape Coast, and Mr Ashie Nikoi, a founder member of the CPP, as well as Ga Shifimo Kpee.
The latter had the honour of being present at the fifth Pan African Congress in Manchester and was also among the first victims of the obnoxious Preventive Detention Act (PDA).
Two personalities, Dr J.B. Danquah and Obetsebi Lamptey of the historical Big Six during the independence struggle, also died in detention without trial.
R.R. Amponsah never came to terms with the first President of Ghana, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, for the introduction of the PDA, which he introduced a year after independence.
In a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) interview a few years ago, the late R.R. Amponsah was reported to have said that "Many people still have a wrong view of him (Nkrumah). He was an autocrat and a dictator. People still think Ghana would be a place of roses if he had stayed in power. That's not true at all."
Mr Amponsah was charged for allegedly organising a coup against the CCP government and imprisoned without trial for more than six years.
"A British police officer came to me and said “you are under arrest", he recalls.
"He pulled a gun and said “come at once or I will blow your head off.” There were military men and senior police officers; they told me to sit and wait. Then they charged me with organising a coup. I was shocked. How? There was no truth in that”, he stated
Although not too strong due to old age, the former Chairman of the Council of Elders of the NPP, played a significant role in the last general election which saw his party lose power to the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
During one of his political assignments , Mr Amponsah at a meeting with some party members urged them to unite in their efforts and continue to work towards victory in the 2008 general election.
Addressing 14 dismissed members of the NPP in the Yilo Krobo Constituency and some top party members at a meeting to reconcile them, Mr Amponsah was reported by a national paper to have said that the party members should ponder over the call on some of them to prepare to go to jail for 30 years if they lost the elections.
The one week celebration of the late Mr Amponsah will take place today at his residence at Regimanuel Estates, Platinum Gate in Accra.
In a message of condolence to the family of the late statesman which was signed by Mr Kofi Adams, a special aide to former President Flt Lt J.J. Rawlings, he said the NPP had lost a dedicated son.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sylvester Mensah Heads NHIC (Middle Page)

THE Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Health Insurance Council (NHIC), Mr Ras Boateng, has been asked to proceed on leave. In his absence, Mr Sylvester Mensah, a former Member of Parliament (MP) for Dadekotopon, has been appointed as the acting CEO.
Mr Boateng was appointed to head the NHIC in February, 2006 after the first Executive Secretary of the Council, Dr Samuel A. Akor, had been relieved of the post.
This was announced by the Minister of Health, Dr George Yankey, in Accra yesterday, at a ceremony where he also inaugurated a 17-member reconstituted board of directors of the NHIC. The First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Doe Adjaho, who is a lawyer by profession, is the chairman of the board.
Administering both the Oath of Office and that of Secrecy to the board members, Dr Yankey gave them 10 days to look at sections of Act 650 that affect the operations of the council for subsequent amendment.
Dr Yankey said portions of the NHIC Act (Act 650 of 2003) that allowed each District Mutual Health Insurance Scheme (DMHIS) to have a separate board, made room for duplication of work and which in effect brought about delays and inefficiency in the operations of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
Section 54 (1) of the Act states; “Every scheme shall have a governing body which shall be responsible for the direction of the policies of the scheme and appointment of employees.”
Subsequently, section 11 (2) of Legislative Instrument, L. I 1809, which established the NHIS, states thus; “Every scheme shall determine the size of its governing body except that in the case of a district mutual health scheme, the membership of the body shall not be less than seven members and not more than 15 members of whom at least two should be women.”
According to Dr Yankey, all the 145 DMHISs in the country had 15 board members each, a situation he considered as waste of resources, adding that when those sections were amended by Parliament, it would enable the NHIC to directly get involved in the operations of schemes to ensure effective co-ordination.
He pointed out that there was no way the NHIC could effectively co-ordinate the operations of the 145 DMHISs in the country if they were allowed to operate as different autonomous entities.
Touching on the one-off premium payment that the Mills administration promised to introduce, the Health Minister said actuarial works on the policy would be complete within the next few weeks, adding that the policy would be operational before the end of next year.
Dr Yankey also cautioned some health service providers under the NHIS who used fraudulent methods to cheat the system, adding that investigations were ongoing and anyone found wanting would be made to face the law and also had the names of their facilities struck out from the list of providers.
He took the opportunity to express gratitude to the members of the board and expressed optimism that with their varied expertise, they would work hard to ensure that Ghanaians were given better health care.
For his part, the Chairman of the board, Mr Adjaho, gave the assurance that the government would not politicise health care and added that the board members would do everything in their capacity to do what was expected of them.
He expressed the hope that the board would do its best to ensure that every Ghanaian was provided quality health care no matter where one found him or herself.

IEA trying to stifle smaller political parties—says Dan Lartey

THE founder and leader of the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP), Mr Dan Lartey, has accused the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) of trying to stifle smaller political parties in the country.
Mr Lartey, who was speaking to the Daily Graphic in Accra, said the Electoral Commission (EC) seemed to be giving support to the IEA when it recently announced through the media that it might not continue to deal with those smaller parties that although had registered, were not performing to the satisfaction of the EC.
”We have all been witnesses to the way the IEA segregated the political parties and sponsored four political parties with which it signed an MoU....,” Mr Lartey said.
With documents to support his claim, the leader of the GCPP said the IEA had since 2003 made all efforts to cut the political parties it considered small from receiving financial and other assistance from both within and outside the country to enhance their activities.
He explained that when an international non-governmental organisation, the Institute of Multiparty Democracy (IMD) of Netherlands, approached the IEA in 2003 for names of political parties in Ghana to enable the organisation to assist them financially and technically, the IEA provided the names of only the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the People’s National Convention (PNC) and the Convention People’s Party (CPP).
To buttress his point, Mr Lartey presented a document headed “The Platform Framework Protocol; A Memorandum of Understanding”, which was signed on January 14, 2003 between the four political parties, the IEA and the IMD of Netherlands.
The GCPP leader, who is currently on a visit to the United States, said although the IEA was aware that there were other registered political parties in the country, it went ahead to present only those four political parties for them to be given the assistance.
He said instead of allowing the political parties to decide how to support each other to contribute their individual quota to the growth of democracy in the country, the IEA and other organisations were rather finding means to destroy the smaller parties.
Mr Lartey said it was important for the institutions with such minds to remember that the smaller political parties played significant roles in the country’s democratic dispensation, adding that during general elections, some of them helped in deciding which bigger party won.
“It should be noted that during the second round of voting in the 2000 general election, all opposition political parties formed a sort of rainbow coalition and together won. In the recent elections which the result were split, the voices of the so-called smaller parties with infinitesimal votes were the eventual deciders,” he stated.
Mr Lartey said it would be better if the political parties would themselves be allowed to decide which of them they would want to be excluded from the list of political parties in the country instead of some other institutions finding means to “starve the smaller parties to death”.
He said trying to use the debate on public funding to stifle some political parties could not be compromised, adding that the state had the responsibility to ensure that every registered political party survived.
Mr Lartey, however, added that some political parties were allowing themselves to be coaxed to decide which political parties in the country should be state sponsored “under the disguised theme of “Enhancing Public Support for Political Parties”.
He added that if any political party allowed itself to be used against the other, a time would come when no political party could take independent decisions.
“It must be noted that any attempt to cancel, frustrate or threaten any registered political party is inconsistent with the constitution...It can also be said that the present deliberation of the meeting on ‘Enhancing Public Support for Political Parties’ is inconsistent with the constitution and therefore, cannot hold,” he concluded.

Gas station owner adamant to quit order (Back Page)

June 10, 2009

A Privately owned gas filling station situated on the Odorgonno Senior High School (SHS) compound is to be relocated, although a six-month ultimatum given to that effect elapsed in February, 2009.
The Arcadian Gas Filling Station, which is about 60 metres away from the assembly hall of the school of 1,900 students, was established in 1999, when the assembly hall was not built.
A visit to the place by the Daily Graphic yesterday showed that, in addition to the SHS, a new model school, which was funded by the Chinese government and was inaugurated just some few weeks ago, is also too close to the gas station.
In an interview, the Headmistress of the school, Mrs Mary Amankwah, said the Board of Directors of the school gave approval for the siting of the gas station at a time buildings on the school compound were far from the location, and was, therefore, not dangerous.
She, however, said now that the school had been selected as one of the model schools in the Greater Accra Region, it had been provided with many structures on the compound which, therefore, made it unsafe for the gas station to remain on the premises.
Mrs Amankwah explained that looking at the situation and the danger it posed to both the staff and students of the school, the current Board of Governors, chaired by the former Director General of the Ghana Health Service, Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa, deliberated on the need to get the station to move out of the school compound and made moves towards that.
The headmistress confirmed that in August` 2008, the Ministry of Education wrote to the owner of the gas station to relocate his company, but this had been to no avail.
Mrs Amankwah pointed out that the school did not sell or lease out the plot to the owner of the gas station, but was quick to explaine that the man had provided some social services to the school, citing construction of a washroom on the school compound.
She said the school authority, as well as parents whose wards were in the school, had on countless occasions complained about the presence of the gas station on the school compound, and expressed hope that the owner would abide by the orders from the Education Ministry and vacate the premises before disaster struck.
When contacted on phone, the owner of Arcadian Gas Filling Station, Mr Ransford France, said he was making all the necessary efforts to relocate, but had so far not succeeded in acquiring a suitable place.
He also stated that the gas business was capital intensive and he would, therefore, need a longer period for him to organise himself and relocate.
Mr France said he was given approval by the school’s board when the place was bushy and waterlogged and had to spend millions of cedis at that time to develop the place, adding that “in addition to the washroom, I also helped in constructing the wall around the school as well as constructing the road to the school”.

China supports Ghana’s malaria programme (Back Page)


THE Chinese government is to help Ghana to move from malaria control to eradication.
Subsequently, experts in the development of anti-malarial interventions from China are having discussions with officials of the Ministry of Health (MoH) to begin the process through aggressive and integrated anti-malarial strategies.
The strategies, according to the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Elias Sory, would include mass prophylactic medication, early diagnoses and treatment of malaria cases and mass outdoor larvicidal and indoor residual spraying.
This came out at a ceremony in Accra yesterday where the Chinese Embassy in Ghana handed over US$280,000 worth of anti-material drugs, the third batch of Artemisinin combination therapy (ACT)-based anti-malarial drugs, to the GHS.
Dr Sory said discussions, tests and studies were still ongoing to ensure that the programme would bring malaria epidemiology from the current 40 to 50 per cent of outpatient department (OPD) cases down to less than 0.5 per cent within the next three years.
He expressed the hope that it was possible for Ghana to eradicate malaria and explained that some countries which previously suffered from malaria and which of late repeated the mass application had achieved the eradication of malaria, to a large extent.
“Ten to 15 countries have been reported to have applied to the WHO to be evaluated to have reached the pre-elimination stage,” he stated.
He thanked the Chinese government for donating the drugs to Ghana and pointed out that the country was prepared to partner with strategic investors or donors of technology transfer for the country to derive its own generic brands of ACTs.
That, according to Dr Sory, would help the country to ensure the effectiveness and success of the strategy of universal access to malaria control logistics and mass application when the eradication campaign was launched.
He touched on other benefits Ghana had received from China and mentioned sponsorship for training Ghanaian health personnel, the donation of anti-malarial drugs over the years and currently the funding of the 100-bed general hospital at Teshie which would include a malaria research centre.
For his part, the Chinese Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Yu Wenzhe, expressed the willingness of his country to help Ghana and added that a medical team would soon arrive in Accra to support the country’s healthcare delivery.
He spoke about the cordial relationship and co-operation which had existed between China and Ghana which he said began immediately after Ghana’s independence, adding that his government would continue to assist Ghana.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Workshop for early detection of bird flu (Back Page)

Tuesday 2-06-2009

A FIVE-DAY training workshop to equip personnel of the Veterinary Service with tools for early detection and control of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI/bird flu) opened in Accra on Monday.
The workshop, organised by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), will promote swift reporting of poultry cases and strengthen the capacity of the Veterinary Service to organise a rapid field response in case of disease outbreak.
Personnel from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the USDA, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) as well as Ghana’s Veterinary Service, which is under the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), are facilitating the workshop.
Addressing the participants, the USDA’s Senior Attaché for Africa and the Middle East, Dr Linda Logan, said the workshop was aimed at partnering Ghana to maintain its HPAI disease-free status.
The last time Ghana had any incidence of bird flu was in June 2007.
Dr Logan said the other objective of the workshop was how to apply what she termed “incident command system” which is used by the US Federal Emergency Management Agency for all human and animal health emergencies as well as natural disasters such as forest fires, floods and hurricanes.
She commended Ghana for successfully combating avian influenza outbreaks in parts of the country and said the USDA had provided a great deal of support for laboratory capacity and surveillance.
In a speech read on his behalf, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Mr Kwesi Ahwoi, said the workshop was appropriate, considering the importance of detecting the disease early.
He pointed out that it was the early detection and diagnosis system that helped the Veterinary Service to detect and control the first case of HPAI in a small commercial farm in Kakasunaka near Tema in the Greater Accra Region.
Mr Ahwoi, however, stated that although Ghana contained the outbreak, stakeholders in the poultry industry suffered economic losses, adding that the government also had to pay GH¢166,000 to the affected farmers as compensation.
The minister expressed the hope that with the outbreak of influenza A HINI (swine flu), the participants would seize the opportunity to learn more about the disease and adequately educate the public thereafter.
The acting Director of the Veterinary Service, Dr E. B. M. Koney, said the workshop was part of the series that the service had been conducting to make its staff proactive.
He explained that some of the risk factors which threatened the re-introduction of avian influenza included biosecurity practices on poultry farms, live bird markets, feed mills and hatcheries.
He said traders in live birds and egg sellers who moved from one place to another could spread the disease.

Non-smokers exposed to cancer-If they patronise smoking areas (Back Page)

Saturday 30-05-2009

RESEARCH conducted by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) has confirmed that non-smokers who patronise places where smoking is allowed are exposed to hazardous chemicals and cancer-causing agents in the tobacco smoke.
The study revealed that nicotine, a chemical dangerous to humans, settled on bodies and hairs of non-smokers who patronised such places.
The research further established that ventilation venues at such places, which include casinos, nightclubs and drinking spots, did not make any change in the risk associated with smoking and its effect on non-smokers.
The study, which focused on "Assessing the Levels of Secondhand Tobacco Smoking (SHS) Exposure in Selected Places in Ghana" was conducted by Dr Wilfred Agbenyikey of the Framingham Heart Study in the United States of America ( USA) and Mrs Edith Koryor Wellington of the GHS.
Presenting a paper at a day's seminar in Accra by the GHS, Dr Agbenyikey said although all the smoking venues where the study took place had ventilation systems, 96 per cent of them had dangerous particulate matter higher than the recommended World Health Organisation (WHO) level.
Consequently, participants in the seminar organised on "Banning Smoking in Public Places" renewed calls for laws to ban smoking in public places in order to protect non-smokers from tobacco-related diseases.
According to the WHO, second-hand smoking, also known as environmental tobacco smoke, is a complex mixture of more than 4,800 chemical compounds that include 69 cancer-causing agents that could cause non-smokers to suffer diseases, disability, and death.
Speaking on behalf of the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, the Chief Psychiatrist of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, Dr Akwasi Osei, said it was unfortunate that the Ghanaian public was not yet fully aware of the severity of the health hazards posed by tobacco use.
He pointed out that one of the cost-effective tobacco control strategies was population-wide public policies such as bans on direct and indirect tobacco advertising, tobacco tax and price increase, smoke-free environment in all public places and workplaces and large and clear graphic health messages on tobacco packaging.
For his part, Dr Benjamin Apelberg of John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA said there was evidence that people who lived in tobacco-free environment had health benefits.
Touching on the WHO's Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control (FCTC), the focal person on tobacco control at the WHO Country Office in Ghana, Ms Sophia Twum-Barima, said Ghana stood to gain if it complied with the WHO recommendation and ban public smoking.
The chairman for the function, Mr Samuel Anku, who is also the Director, Intersectoral Network Division of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), reiterated that tobacco was the world's leading killer.
He said there was no doubt that those exposed to second-hand smoke were also at risk of cancer and other serious respiratory and cardiovascular diseases especially on children.