Forestry Commission to strengthen permit regime

The Forestry Commission says it is reviewing and strengthening its permit regime to effectively regulate the exploitation of Rosewood harvesting in line with the agreement of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Deputy Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission, Mr John Allotey, told a press conference on Thursday that future extraction of all Rosewood would be based on the CITES approved yearly volume quota for the country.

He said the Commission would also be tasked to ensure domestic processing of Rosewood logs for value addition prior to export to overseas markets.

Mr Allottey said the review of the permits regime and the adoption of stringent measures in the industry were necessary to avoid utilisation levels that would negatively impact their survival.

He noted that all permits in respect of the harvesting, transport and export of Rosewood expired on the December 31, 2016 under a ‘stop-work’ order issued by the Commission, and that all existing agreements for the removal of trees from the Bui Dam enclave were revoked.

“Sector Ministry conducted investigation and revealed that large volumes of Rosewood were being harvested indiscriminately particularly in the three Northern Regions, which poses threats to the forest cover in the regions.”

He said as a result of that, the Minister placed a ban on the harvesting, transporting and exporting of Rosewood in the country, but reports indicated that the activity still persisted which aggravated the threat of environmental degradation and its effects.

He said the four companies, which were given permits under the Bui Dam agreement to remove trees within the enclave and fairways and had not settled their debts with the Bui Authorities would lose any existing stock recorded in their names.

Mr Allotey said in line with the earlier directive which was issued on February 10, 2017, a total of 361 containers of Rosewood belonging to different companies had been impounded and currently located at the ports and some wood depots across the country.

He said to decongest the port and depots, companies would be granted a one-off CITES permit to enable them dispose off their consignments in view of the fact they have already paid all statutory fees to the Commission.

He said all companies would be expected to pay appropriate penalties on consignments for flouting the December 30, 2016 ‘stop-work’ order, explaining that it was only after payment of the penalties that the Commission would grant clearance for CITES certificates to be issued to enable shipment of the exiting seized stocks.

Mr Allotey said the affected companies had been given a two-month notice to complete the exercise.

 

Source: Ghana business news

World Fire Fighters Day Marked

By:  A.R. Gomda

Albert Brown-Gaisie

 

The Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) yesterday joined their counterparts around the world to mark World Fire Fighters Day.

It is a day set aside to recognize the role of fighters in saving lives and preventing fires and to pay tributes to those who lost their lives in the line of duty.

In Ghana the day was marked in the various fire stations around the country.

The Chief Fire Officer (CFO) Dr. Albert Brown-Gaisie, who took the opportunity of the occasion to talk to the media, asked that corporate organizations create hotlines to the GNFS with a view to calling for assistance when this becomes necessary, adding that such bodies institute measures that would assist in fire prevention.

The CFO pointed at the acquisition of early warning gadgets such as smoke detectors, sprinklers and risers, which corporate organizations must acquire.

According to him, since small fires become big ones it is necessary that they are curbed with the relevant gadgets in their early stages.

The Fire Chief had earlier undertaken a fire audit of selected public organizations in Accra with a view to assessing their fire safety standards.

While assuring the public that the GNFS is always ready to protect lives and property, he called for collaboration from corporate organizations and individuals in this direction.

Members of the public, he said, should learn and appreciate the functions of firefighters.

He called on personnel of the GNFS to protect the corporate image of the organization by being professional and avoid conducts, which have the tendency to bring the Service into disrepute.

To the media, he said “I entreat you to seek clarification to issues when the need arises.”

In the past one year or so many more fire stations have been opened around the country with personnel heightening public education about fire safety.

The Circle fire disaster has gone down as the worst in contemporary times and one which tested the efficiency and professionalism of the GNFS, a test which they passed with excellence, given their rating by members of the public at the time.

 

Source: modernghana.com

Government to strengthen Social Protection interventions for galamsey communities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Child Rights International (CRI), a non-governmental Organisation has called on the government to make its Social Protection (SP), interventions known in the handling and the stoppage of ‘galamsey’ activities in the country.

The Organisation, which based its call on facts gathered from a survey it conducted in eight districts to ascertain the prevalence of child labour in mining communities, said over 2,092 children were found to be at high risk of hazardous works, including ‘galamsey’ operations in these area.

It said in the districts, which involved the Atwima Mponua, Atwima Nwabiagya, Bibiani, Asunafo South, Asutifi North and South, as well as the Ahafo Ano North and South, there were at least a family member in each of the sampled households who was engaged in illegal mining, and a total of 30 children identified to be working constantly in ‘galamsey’.

Mr Bright Appiah, the Executive Director, Child Rights International, who made the call at a press conference in Accra Thursday, applauded government for the tremendous intervention in stopping the ‘galamsey’ menace, and pledged the total support of the CRI in fighting the course to the end.

He, however, said in carrying out measures to halt ‘galamsey’ “we have to give attention to Social and Child Protection issues in the mining areas”, with the knowledge that children were also involved in the practice, which was a threat not only to their lives, but also to the country as it stood the risk of losing great leaders by record of a high school dropout rate.

The country would soon face the consequences of witnessing increases in children’s vulnerability to diseases due to the pollution of the environment if the situation was not quickly addressed, he said.

Mr Appiah said there was the need for government to look at the social protection implications on people, including children and put in place sustainable livelihood empowerment programmes as an alternative, to draw the affected into the social safety net.

He suggested to the government to take the appropriate steps to investigate the condition of children and households in the ‘galamsey’ endemic communities in order to support their welfare, rehabilitation and re-integration into mainstream society.

He said identifying such children would enable the government to withdraw them and develop remediation plans for their families.

He asked that much engagement and collaboration with formal and informal community structures, including traditional systems, Child Protection Committees, School Management Committees, Social Welfare as well as the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit of the Ghana Police Service, and building their capacities to be pursued to achieve effective outcomes.

 

Source: Ghana business news

AMA, police clear traders from Accra pavements

By: Porcia Oforiwaa Ofori

 Pavement cleared at the Kwame Nkrumah interchange.

Pavement cleared at the Kwame Nkrumah interchange.

The Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), in collaboration with its task force and the Police, yesterday carried out an exercise to rid pavements of the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange and parts of the Central Business District of traders and hawkers.

This was after the traders and other people who engaged in other unauthorised activities on the pavements had been served with notices two months ago to leave.

Seized items were burnt, so were tables and wooden and makeshift structures that were used by the traders.

Some of the affected people cooperated with the taskforce, while others resisted.

AMA

Speaking to the Daily Graphic, the Public Relations Officer at the AMA, Numo Blafo II, reiterated that those trading on the pavements, as well as others who were engaged in other activities, were told to leave two months ago, in addition to continuous warnings from the assemblyman for the area and the Accra Metropolitan Chief Executive.

“We met with them and told them to leave the pavements because they were creating nuisance. We invited their executives and made them aware that their activities brought rubbish onto the pavements, while the assemblyman for the area also spoke to them about the situation but they refused to leave the place and we had to go there today,” Numo Blafo II said.

He added that some of the affected traders only pretended to leave when they were asked to do so as the best they did was to move from one place to another.

He said that was why their tables and structures were broken and burnt to prevent them from coming back.

Traders

Some of the traders and hawkers who were affected by the exercise shared their grievances with the Daily Graphic.

A fruit seller who claims to be a widow, Madam Ama Diana, confirmed that they had been notified to leave the pavements before the eviction exercise, but most of them ignored the notices because they were using a demarcated area for their activities and they thought that place had been designated for them.

“Two weeks ago, we were asked to vacate the place. Before the election, we were allowed to use a demarcated place and we thought because of that we would not be affected. As a widow, I sell fruits for my family to survive. I went to buy some yesterday and they have taken away all the fruits I kept in my sack,” she complained.

“They came to draw the line for us to be able to sell within it but they are now sacking us and I want to know why they did this demarcation here if they knew they would move us from here one day,” she queried.

Another trader who deals in shoes, Mr Yaw Kyei, alleged that they were made to pay for the area to be demarcated for them to sell in view of the reconstruction of the area that affected the market where they used to be.

“I was here when this road was reconstructed. We used to be inside the market and we were asked to leave for the reconstruction of the place. This was followed by promises of giving us a permanent place after the work and we agreed without asking for any compensation. After the work, the assemblyman asked us to pay GH¢10 for the demarcation of the place and now they have sacked us,” he said.

“They lied to us before the elections. I went to Kyebi to vote for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and now that they are in power, this is what we get from them. If they knew this was what they were going to do, they shouldn’t have asked us to pay to demarcate the pavement,” he added.

The general body of traders, however, said they were waiting on their executives to direct them to where they could peacefully go about their trading without the hindrances they had been experiencing.

 

Source: Graphic online

Anti-Galamsey Task Force Hits Road

By: I.F. Joe Awuah Jnr., Kumasi

 

Some members of the anti-Galamsey taskforce during the swearing in ceremony

From all indications illegal mining, also known as ‘galamsey,’ would end once-and-for-all in the Ashanti Region following the inauguration of a 15-member taskforce.

The move is to support government’s fight against illegal mining to forestall the destruction of the environment.

The Ashanti Regional Chapter of the Ghana National Association of Small Scale Miners formed the taskforce made up of energetic men.

The taskforce has been charged to monitor the activities of illegal miners in the region.

The small-scale miners, who have declared war on illegal mining, have started another project christened ‘Operation Cover 2 Acres.’

Under the project, each member of the association would reclaim at least two acres of land destroyed through ‘galamsey’ in their catchment area.

Frank Osei, interim executive member of the association, stated that his outfit was determined to support government to effectively tackle illegal mining.

He observed that illegal mining activities rapidly destroy the environment, urging all small-scale miners to join the fight against the menace.

According to him, their open fight against illegal mining is to show to government that small-scale miners abhor ‘galamsey.’

Mr. Osei expressed hope that within the next three months, the taskforce would help reclaim vast lands damaged by the illegal miners.

He noted that the taskforce would officially work with the various assemblies in the region.

Mr. Osei also commended President Akufo-Addo’s decision to stop illegal mining in the country and urged all and sundry to support him.

 

Source: modernghana.com

Gov’t suspends Chinese mining firm’s operations in Talensi

By: Fredrick Awuni, citifmonline.com

The government has temporarily suspended the operations of Shaanxi Ghana Mining Company Limited operating in Gbane in the Talensi District of the Upper East Region.

According to a letter signed by the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, John Peter Amewu, the suspension is to allow for thorough investigations into the company’s underground operations, and the alleged death of about seven miners in the area.

As a result, 500 permanent workers of the company have been asked to go home until further notice, while 52 workers are currently ensuring care and maintenance of the company’s mining shafts.

Speaking to Citi News in Gbane, the frustrated employees described the decision by the sector minister as unfair, cautioning the joblessness may led to social vices in the area.

An employee, Elizabeth Yinnama, said, “we are  appealing to government to come to our aid, if not when we will go back to our various homes, and we may turn to armed robbery because going home, I don’t think I can survive because I don’t have anything to do; but the Galamsey workers are not helping anyone in this community.”

Miss Salina Amaze, a geologist also sided with the employees, saying “workers of Shaanxi cannot allow Galamsey intruders to let government close down the company, it will affect me and my colleagues.”

But at a press conference in Gbane, Shaanxi mining company’s Underground Mine Manager, Thomas Tii Yenzanya, said even though they have complied with the minister’s directive, efforts should be put in place to protect their shafts  from being exploited by the Galamsey miners pending the outcome of the investigations.

Mr. Yenzanya said all mining operations of the company have been suspended except for care and maintenance works.

“There will be loss of production, there will be more intrusion into the area by the illegal miners because they will be mining underground chopping the pillars, stealing the gold ore and probably destroying our equipment but it’s a directive.”

Shaanxi Mining Company Reacts to Allegations

Citi News can confirm that, the Yenyeya and Pubortaaba small scale mining groups for which Shaanxi mining company is rendering support mining services to, were licensed on the 7th January 2007 and 9th October 2009 respectively by the Inspectorate Division of the Minerals commission of Ghana.

Underground Mine Manager of Shaanxi mining company, Mr. Yenzanya provided documentation for the payments of employees’ SSNIT up to April, 2017.

He indicated that, the company has fulfilled its tax and royalties obligation since its operations with enormous corporate social responsibility projects ranging from boreholes, schools, bridges and scholarships for needy but brilliant students in the area.

Mr. Yenzanga denied allegations that, the company’s blasting takes place unannounced, adding that, blasting time is between 10:00 pm to 12:00 am. He also added that, workers were sacked following due processes.

Meanwhile, investigations have commenced into the circumstances that led to the deaths of about seven illegal miners who were reported to have been trapped by smoke from one of the Shaanxi mining shafts on the 7th of April 2017.

 

Source: modernghana.com

Ghana to get Africa’s first and world’s largest LPG fired power plant

By: Pamela Ofori-Boateng

General Electric Company says it will supply the power generation equipment for the Bridge Power plant project in Ghana, according to a  press release copied to ghanabusinessnews.com.

The equipment, which will be used in the first phase of the project, will collectively generate 200MW of power and an additional 200MW of power will be deployed in stage two of the project, the release said.

It adds that, the equipment scope in GE’s TM2500 gas turbine generator sets and GE’s steam turbines is in a combined cycle (CC), configuration. This will be the first time the TM2500 gas turbines will be used in a combined cycle configuration globally and marks a milestone for the technology, which is also led by PRODEL.

“The Bridge Power plant successfully brings together the need for a cost-effective fuel solution, in this case liquefied petroleum gas, with an integrated power solution driven by GE’s latest flexible technology,” Leslie Nelson, CEO, GE’s Gas Power Systems for sub-Saharan Africa was cited as saying in the release.

Additionally, the 400MW Bridge Power and LPG import, storage, and transportation infrastructure project will address Ghana’s long-term energy requirements by providing enough electricity for the equivalent of up to 17 per cent of the country’s capacity.

It notes that upon completion, it will be Africa’s first LPG fired power plant and the world’s largest plant of its kind. The fuel-flexible plant will also be capable of being fueled by LPG, natural gas or diesel.

Bridge Power, the release pointed out is being developed by the Early Power Limited (EPL) consortium under a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), with the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG). The EPL consortium comprises of Endeavor Energy, an independent power development and generation company focused on Africa; Sage, an independent trading firm in Ghana; and GE.

In March this year, GE opened a 5,600 square meter oil & gas facility in Takoradi that will serve as a primary service center for deep-water offshore projects, it concluded.

 

Source: Ghana Business News

Chinese gov’t is backing galamsey fight – Lands Minister

By: Austin Brako-Powers , Myjoyonline.com

Lands and Natural Resources Minister, John Peter Amewu says the Chinese government is in full support of Ghana’s efforts to end illegal mining known as galamsey.

He said the Xi Jinping government has given its backing for punitive measures to be meted out to Chinese nationals who are caught engaging in illegal mining in Ghana.

Speaking at Joy FM’s Thought Leadership dialogue on galamsey Friday, Mr Amewu said the President Akufo-Addo government will continue to collaborate with civil society groups to clamp down on the practice.

Chinese President Xi Jinping
The anti-galamsey campaign has been gathering momentum days after the Lands Ministry’s three-weeks ultimatum served miners to end their activities elapsed.

As part of activities to consolidate gains made since the start of the campaign in February 2017, the Lands Minister has been leading a delegation of mine officials to tour some illegal mining sites.

Some galamseyers at work
Available data at the Lands Ministry reveals a total of about 500 excavators used for illegal mining have been handed over to government by some of the operators.

The campaign was triggered by the destruction caused Ghana’s water bodies and forest reserves through galamsey activities. The Tano River in the Brong Ahafo Region, that serves several communities, has dried up for the first time in 40 years.

Some Ghanaians and their Chinese counterparts mining in the River Ankobrah in Western Region

The Brim and Densu Rivers in the Eastern Region and Ankobrah River in the Western Region have been muddied to an extent that experts have estimated it will cost more money for them to be treated for consumption.

Information available indicates some of the people found to be engaging in the practice are Ghanaians and Chinese. At least five Chinese and their Ghanaian counterparts are standing trial for mining in the Ankobrah River in the Western Region.

The five Chinese standing trial for allegedly mining in the Ankobrah River

The Chinese community in Ghana has expressed dissatisfaction with media reportage on galamsey, saying its people are being unfairly targeted.

In a letter to the Lands Ministry, officials of the Chinese mission said the campaign against galamsey could hamper bilateral relationship between the two countries if attacks on its citizens are not stopped.

The Lands Minister inspecting extent of damage to one of Ghana’s water bodies

In the heat of the campaign, reports were rife that the Chinese government has directed its Immigration Department to unfairly scrutinise travelling documents of Ghanaian businessmen and women at their airports because of the galamsey clamp down.

But the Lands Minister said President Akufo-Addo has communicated with Chinese President, Xi Jinping over the anti-galamsey activities and he has given his support.

A miner caught mining in the Western Region
“The Chinese government totally agrees with the government that any foreigner that misbehaves, they have [to be dealt with],” Mr Amewu said.

The Minister advised the media to exercise circumspection in their reportage since any Chinese accosted for engaging in illegal mining is an individual and not their government. “We should be careful,” he cautioned.

“We will continue to chase recalcitrant people who will not conform to sustainable environmental mining,” he warned.

 

Source: modernghana.com

‘Illegal miners’ set to return to sites for reclamation efforts

By: Nathan Gadugah, Myjoyonline.com

 

llegal galamsey miners are set to return to site not to deplete and pollute the environment but to work towards reclaiming areas devastated by the illegal mining activity.

According to the Lands and Natural Resources Minister John Peter Amewu, his outfit will vigorously engage the illegal miners in a desperate bid to repair the lands destroyed by galamsey.

The illegal mining activities across the country have come to a halt at least for now following a massive joint anti-galamsey campaign by the government and the media.

Shortly after being appointed into office, the Minister gave a three week ultimatum to all illegal miners to halt their activities or face the consequences.

A good number of the miners are reported to have abandoned the sites and left behind huge excavators which have subsequently been taken over by the government.

Speaking at the Joy FM’s Thought Leadership programme on galamsey, John Peter Amewu said the government is resolved to fighting the canker that has destroyed many of the country’s water bodies and threatening the very existence of citizens.

River polluted by galamsey
It is believed Ghana may soon be importing water into the country if the galamsey menace is not resolved.

Already the forest reserve and farm lands have been destroyed completely as a result of the illegal mining activity.

The sector minister said his outfit will be fighting the canker on three main pillars including law enforcement and the use of technology.

He said in using the drone as the key technological application, the ministry will identify all the concessions and their owners and will monitor ever single activity of those owners.

Mr Amewu said not only will the task force be used to prevent the miners from returning to the sites, but the miners will be engaged to help in reclaiming the lands they have polluted.

The minister further stated, that government will no longer leave the prospecting of gold and other minerals in the hands of small scale miners but government will lead the way to ensure whatever mining activity is done is according to law.

But members of the small scale miners are not happy with the actions of the sector minister.

One of the representatives of the small scale mining association who was present at the Thought Leadership programme said they have not engaged at all by the minister.

He does not see how the minister wants them to buy into reclamation effort when they have not been consulted.

 

Source: modernghana.com

AMA warns churches to adhere to ban on noise making

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), has warned religious congregations, especially roadside evangelists to strictly adhere to the ban on noise making by the Ga Traditional Council.

It advised that the usual form of worship should be confined to the premises of the churches and mosques and their noise levels be minimised to the barest limits possible.

The AMA gave the warning in a statement signed by Numo Blafo III, the Public Relation Officer and copied the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Thursday.

It urged the religious bodies to abide by the guidelines set out for them for the interest of peace, harmony and national cohesion.

“The positioning of loud speakers outside the premises of churches, mosques and pubs are banned,” the statement emphasised.

It reminded the public that apart from an identifiable taskforce which consists of AMA, the Police and the representatives of the traditional authorities, no individual or group of persons were allowed to enforce the abatement of noise making in the metropolis.

The statement appealed to authorities, civil society organisations and opinion leaders to advise the few recalcitrant churches not to interfere in any way with the performance of the rites of the celebration of the Homowo festival.

The Homowo, which is celebrated by Ga indigenes, literally means hooting at hunger and to pray for bumper food harvest for the next farming season.

 

Source: Ghana business news