VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, item numbered 3 on the Order Paper -- Correction of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report. The Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 14th February, 2017.
Mr Speaker, I am sorry. I have been up for a while, unfortunately, I could not catch your eye in good time. Mr Speaker, on page 8, some Hon Members were present in the Chamber yesterday. I do recollect that Hon Kwaku Asante- Boateng, the Hon Member for Aswante Akim South was in the Chamber, and I even spoke with him — Mr Ben Abdallah Banda, Member for Offinso South; Mr Eric Kwakye Darfour, Member for Nkawkaw who was vetted yesterday, put in a brief appearance before he went for the vetting; and Prof. George Yaw Gyan-Baffour, Member for Wenchi. These four Members of Parliament, noticeably, were in the Chamber yesterday.
Thank you very much. Page 10……15 -- Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 14th February, 2017 as amended be hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings.
[No correction was made to the Official Report of Tuesday, 7th February, 2017.]
[No correction was made to the Official Report of Wednesday, 8 th February, 2017.]
Thank you very much, Hon Minister for Defence.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. Let me thank the Hon Minister for Defence for the brief to the people of Ghana. I wish to commend the men and women of the GAF for their sacrifices and participation in this very important assignment. Mr Speaker, I would also want to commend the ECOMIG through ECOWAS for this very timely intervention. I believe the outcome, as was described by the Hon Minister for Defence, has been a very desirable one. Fortunately, this is not the first time that this has happened. We recall not too long ago, what happened in la Cote d' Ivoire. Unfortunately the outcome was different; it led to thousands of deaths. So many women and children turned out to be refugees in Ghana. As I speak today, we still have lots of them right in Ampain Refugee Camp in my constituency. Mr Speaker, this was a very important intervention. I believe that this decision to intervene saved so many lives. We must commend the ECOMIG Forces, especially, the Ghana Armed Forces for their participation. Mr Speaker, I am particularly grateful to former President John Dramani Mahama who was invited as part of the leadership that began the very intensive diplomatic effort. I believe that set the tone for the success that was achieved. His record in West Africa in terms of bringing about peace and saving lives is unmatched. Mr Speaker, we recall what happened when there was the outbreak of the Ebola virus. His intervention as the Chairman of ECOWAS led to the world acclaimed -- I believe that, the ECOWAS and the West African Community will forever remember the very important role that H.E. John Dramani Mahama played in bringing about peace. Mr Speaker, as we discuss this intervention and what has been very successful, I think we have to look at the role that was played by former President Yahya Jammeh and what The Gambia as a country must do. Mr Speaker, the question must be asked -- it was a question that was recently asked in the United States of America -- I know that Iraq is responsible for paying for the cost of that war. I believe ultimately, when we intervene as a country -- to help our neighour is very important, and we would save lives. Ultimately, the cost must be borne by the people of The Gambia. I believe the cost must be borne by la Cote d'Ivoire if that was the case. I believe the message is clear. The world not come to our aid. We, West Africans must understand that, we are on our own. We must begin to put in systems and understand that, what happens with our neighbours affects us. So we have interest in making sure that democracy is strengthened in our neighbouring countries. We must have that interest. We must challenge ourselves to have transparent institutions that would stand the test of time. Mr Speaker, I believe that, ECOWAS is leading a very important course that is a pride of the world. With this example in The Gambia, I believe we would go a long way to consolidate peace and stability in the sub-region. Mr Speaker, once again, I would like to thank the Hon Minister for the timely brief. I believe it is a very good start. The people of Ghana deserve nothing less than that, especially, considering how important our troops are to us and what happens to them when they go on such important missions. Mr Speaker, I tbelieve that we would talk on the finance and also make sure that they have the equipment and the tools they need to succeed. Mr Speaker, I know the challenges the military has. This House must take interest and make sure we equip our military to be battle ready at all times to defend the peace of Ghana and to ensure that our Sub-region is peaceful. On this note Mr Speaker, I would want to thank the Hon Minister who made the Statement.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, in associating myself with the Statement made by the Hon Minister for Defence, I would want to congratulate all stakeholders who made the intervention to broker that peace accord. My question is this, can something be done about transfer of power in the light of how we traumatise our citizens any time there are elections in Africa? We all know Mr Speaker, that power belongs to the people and they trust it into our hands for a moment. But anytime there are elections and an incumbent loses, then there is tension. I therefore propose that, the ECOWAS Parliament should have to look at transitional provisions as enshrined in the various Constitutions. I would suggest that, if an incumbent party loses, just as the Hon Member said, there must be an immediate transfer of power to an institution that we all
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement made by the Hon Minister for Defence. Mr Speaker, I would wish to commend highly the efforts of the new Hon Minister for Defence in the light of the recent happenings in The Gambia, and by extension, the Government of President Nana Akufo-Addo. Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleague, the former Minister for Petroleum congratulated former President Mahama for the efforts he made when the West African Community -- [Interruption] -- selected him to join hands with his colleague Presidents from Nigeria and Liberia to mediate and ensure that the situation in The Gambia did not escalate into war. I would also wish to commend our gallant troops who were deployed to maintain the peace in The Gambia. They have always been professional and in times like this, we can be very proud of them and expect them to deliver. Mr Speaker, I would wish to point out that the next time violence threatens to break loose in a neighbouring State, such as The Gambia, the ECOWAS may want to hasten slowly. Mr Speaker, I say so because, in the wake of controversy that engulfed The Gambia -- Yes, former President Yahya Jammeh conceded defeat initially. But according to him and his followers, they detected that there were certain mistakes in the collation of results and that the elections may have been marred by certain acts of fraud perpetrated by the electoral commission to favour his opponent. Mr Speaker, I do not hold brief for former President Jammeh, but we need to be careful here. This is because when a contestant in any election cries foul, the person must be given the opportunity to test the outcome of the results in a judicial forum. Unfortunately Mr Speaker, the judiciary did not help matters in The Gambia. They abdicated the mandate to adjudicate over electoral disputes in The Gambia, thereby leaving Yahya Jammeh with no option than to declare a state of emergency. Mr Speaker, if the judiciary in The Gambia had lived up to expectation, I strongly believe that, there would not have been the need for the ECOWAS to deploy troops as they did. Mr Speaker, our own example is worth emulating. When the current President lost elections in 2012, Mr Speaker, the judiciary in Ghana did not abdicate its role. So, for eight solid months, we were litigating in the Supreme Court. That is the rule of law; those are the dictates of the rule of law. Mr Speaker, so, as a sub-region, we should be interested in ensuring that all the institutions of State, including the arms of government, are fully functional in member States. We do not have to wait for when conflict is about to erupt -- Only to realise that some organs of State are not fully functional, then we are compelled or constrained to intervene without allowing contestants to have their day in court. Mr Speaker, I also wish to commend the new Hon Minister for Defence for the effort he made. I am sure that he had not even settled down in office when he had to be baptised with fire with The Gambian crises. Listening to him, he gave an indication that Ghanaian troops had secured some Ghanaian communities in The Gambia. I believe that is an effort worth commending and I would want to congratulate him on that effort. This is because not too long ago, this same country was in the news for the murder of over 44 Ghanaians for no apparent reason. So, in the midst of confusion, the decision to deploy Ghanaian troops to secure Ghanaian communities in The Gambia was a welcome news and I would wish to congratulate the Hon Minister on that effort. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I would wish to say kudos to the Government, including former President Mahama for the effort they played in ensuring that peace returned to The Gambia. Thank you very much.
Hon Minister for the Interior.
Mr Speaker, I am most grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this very important Statement delivered by the Hon Minister for Defence. Mr Speaker, what is exceedingly gratifying about the intervention in The Gambia and the success that has been chalked is that, alas, we have found an African solution to an African problem. We did not wait for help to come from elsewhere. Mr Speaker, ECOWAS found it expedient to act swiftly, and in that architecture, Ghana played a leading role. The current President ought to be commended and the outgone President also ought to be commended. What is more important, however, is that, it was a collective African solution that brought us this victory. Mr Speaker, but I am more concerned about the way forward. We do not know that The Gambia is challenged when it comes to her institutions. She has very weak constitutional arrangements and even the petition that the now outgone President, President Jammeh tried to put before the courts, he struggled to get Judges to sit on it. That exemplifies what is really the challenge in The Gambia. Elections are only one aspect of the democratic process. After the elections and the victory of this new President, what is important is that, ECOWAS does not walk away; and ECOWAS member States must not walk away. We should all be willing to help The Gambia to build her democratic institutions; they need a strong Parliament, strong judicial systems and then strong State institutions that would continue with the democratic process. Mr Speaker, it was gratifying to hear the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson say yesterday that, they would reconsider inviting The Gambia to return to the Commonwealth. We know that he would be visiting this country today on his way to The Gambia. These are all important steps forward that we all have to commit to. While commending the Ghana Armed Forces, we must also position ourselves as a Parliament and as a democratic nation, which has earned the respect of the global community. We have done it before; many of the Chief Justices in The Gambia had been Ghanaians but we now have to work out an arrangement where we would support the new Government to build strong institutions and strong civil society organisations that would sustain the democratic experiments that have begun in The Gambia. Mr Speaker, so, I commend the Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces, His Excellency President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo; I commend ECOWAS Heads of State, including the outgone President, John Dramani Mahama, for all the contributions that have been made. But please, we are not yet there. We are not yet Uhuru. What is more important now is how we would help The Gambia to sustain and nurture this fledgling democracy that it has now decided to adapt. The troops are still largely loyal to the former President, we are told. We need to ensure that institutions are built, that are loyal to the State and to individual politicians and political regimes, but the State of The Gambia, we must all be willing to support. I know that the Rt Hon Speaker is very experienced in this. He could really play a significant role as an eminent political scientist, somebody who has headed the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana. Mr Speaker, I do know that you have the rich experience, the wisdom and expertise to help The Gambia in putting together a new democratic architecture that can serve that country well and contribute largely to the peace and stability of the ECOWAS sub-region. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I commend the maker of the Statement and wish the Republic of The Gambia well. Thank you very much.
Thank you very much. The last contribution, apart from Leadership.
If some Hon Members will voluntarily eliminate themselves, it will help the process.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for this opportunity. I thank the Armed Forces of Ghana and West Africa for all the support that they offered in The Gambia. Mr Speaker, one thing that I realised about The Gambian situation was that, the Parliament of The Gambia itself submitted to the will of Yahya Jammeh. What the Parliament did was to extend the stay of the President who had previously accepted the results of an election but nine days afterwards, had come to say
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to make brief comments on the Statement that was ably presented by our able Hon Minister for Defence. Mr Speaker, I must commend my good Friend for being the second Minister to make a Ministerial Statement on the floor of this Seventh Parliament of the Republic of Ghana. Although one of the youngest, he is the second, and this is an inspiration to the youth. Mr Speaker, on the substantive issue, political commentators and security experts have said that, it is better for the ECOWAS to have a good standing military force to be able to protect the democratic principles that we cherish very much in our sub-region. Mr Speaker, we have read about it, people have said it, and I strongly believe that the very example that has been set in The Gambia confirms that if there were a standing Force to make sure that West African leaders go by the wishes and voices of the good people that they lead, it would help us to install peace and security in the West African sub-region. Mr Speaker, I cannot continue without commending the former President of the Republic of Ghana as well as the current President, to the extent that they led the mediation effort. The current President came to concur that when persuasion fails, force must be applied. Mr Speaker, I am not surprised that the Hon Minister said when the military entered The Gambia, there was no force. I am very happy about that. When one knows that a power that is stronger is in existence, the fear of a more powerful force can sometimes lead one to comply. This should also speak to us politicians, such that, when we compete with someone, the person is not our enemy. When we lose elections honourably, we must be ready to hand over power, and that would pave the opportunity for us to be one of the “I shall return”. Mr Speaker, it has happened and happened. I strongly believe that this example that has been set by the Heads of State of West Africa, is there for us the young and emerging politicians to learn. When the people decide, we must respect the voice of our constituents. When the nation decides, we must respect the voice of the people. If it goes in your favour, take it. If it does not favour you, be ready to relinquish power. Mr Speaker, I cannot sit down without making just a humble application. My good Brother, the Hon Defence Minister, having been one of the first to bring a Ministerial Statement, we on this side would humbly make an application to you to request the Minister for Defence to do same and brief the good people of Ghana, especially the Parliament of the Republic of Ghana, about the current situation in Bimbilla. Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.
Why? Is he the Minister for the Interior?
Majority Leadership? Maj. Derek Oduro (NDC--Nkoranza North)[retd]: Thank you Mr Speaker, for finally recognising me as the oldest member on the Defence and Interior Committee, and now the Chairman of that Committee -- [Hear! Hear!] Mr Speaker, I would also add my voice, pat the shoulder of the Hon Minister for Defence, for this very important Statement. All of us are aware of the circumstances leading to the deployment of ECOWAS Forces in The Gambia. It was a step in the right direction, because we have not forgotten what happened in Rwanda, where so many people were killed before the United Nations (UN) took up the challenge of going straight to stop the people from that carnage. Mr Speaker, we have not also forgotten what happened in Liberia, when so many lives were lost before ECOWAS moved in. Therefore if it is the term of The Gambia, then ECOWAS need to step in well ahead of time, so that we do not repeat such incidents as in Liberia. Mr Speaker, we are aware that, Ghana moved in for the purpose of making sure that conflict did not occur. That was the motive. ECOWAS was aware of non- interference in other member States' internal affairs. Therefore, ECOWAS waited until a competent President was in the position to call in the force to assist to keep peace in the country. That is why President Adama Barrow was inaugurated into office and he asked for ECOWAS to come and assist the country to keep peace. Those doubting Thomases who blamed Ghana for taking a move to send troops to assist, should not forget that, that was a peace and security plan of ECOWAS. We are happy, and it is significant that ECOWAS made sure that they asked for eminent people to go and make sure that President Yahya Jammeh was convinced to step down and Ghana selected the former President. It is significant. When they went and Yahya Jammeh did not agree, then those eminent people suggested the deployment of troops. Those who went in there to make sure that Yahya Jammeh stepped down did not sit down or close their eyes, but they suggested that there was the need for the deployment of ECOWAS troops. Therefore, if the Government of Ghana took that action, it was upon advice. Ghana went in with the aim of ensuring that peace was maintained but we had a second aim, which was to make sure that our citizens over there did not come under any threat. That is what most people do not know. Immediately after the deployment, even some of our Hon Colleagues questioned us that, why should we go and bring war or why should you go and do something that would even bring problems to Ghanaians over there? But that was one of the reasons we went there. That was something which was under the carpet. Mr Speaker, we went there and we made sure that the hostility did not move into crisis. Nobody fired any weapon against any group, and that was the reason. It was initially for peacekeeping. Mr Speaker, we did not go into combat; we did not go to war. That is the impression that we must correct. Ghana did not go to war; ECOWAS countries did not go to war; we did not go into combat but we went there for peacekeeping, to ensure that peace that had prevailed in The Gambia would be maintained, and that was exactly what we did. Mr Speaker, if the situation had gone up when they went, we should have, maybe, turned “peacekeeping” into “peace enforcement”. That is the situation where maybe, weapons could be used. Mr Speaker, we thank Ghana for participating. We thank the Hon Minister for making this Statement and we hope and pray that, such a situation would not arise in the sub-region where there would be the need for us to even deploy troops, so that everything could be settled amicably when one loses power. Thank you for recognising me, Mr Speaker.
In actual fact, you took the place of the Hon Majority Leader who conceded to you.
MR SECOND DEPUTY SPEAKER
Hon Members, let me take this opportunity to thank you very much for my nomination and approval to be the Second Deputy Speaker for the Seventh Parliament of the Fourth Republic of Ghana. I am most grateful for the honour done me and my constituents in the Nadowli/Kaleo Constituency. I would also want to thank you for this reception and welcome to the Chair today. I have a very well cut out assignment. I have been told by the Rt Hon Speaker that we have two more Statements to deal with. I just want to draw your attention to the terms of Standing Order 72, and please, urge you to be guided by those terms accordingly. I am told you have finished with the first Statement, therefore, we will move to the second one which is in the name of Hon Alhassan S. Suhuyini, the Member of Parliament for Tamale North.
Mr Speaker, I have been told that Hon Suhuyini is at the Appointments Committee sitting.
In that case, we will move on to the second Statement. It is a Statement by the Hon Annoh-Dompreh. Hon Member, the title of the Statement is “Sand winning: A Threat and Potential “Galamsey”. Unfortunately, you did not put your name there. I had to go through to see that your name was in writing somewhere. I believe it would be better your name becomes part of the heading together with your constituency. It would make things easier for all of us. Sandwinning: A Threat and Potential ‘Galamsey'
Thank you, Mr Speaker, I have taken a cue. For the records, I am Hon Frank Annoh-Dompreh, Member of Parliament for Nsawam- Adoagyiri. The cue is duly taken Mr Speaker, I am grateful. Mr Speaker, I wish to draw the attention of this august House to the unprecedented rise in the level of sand winning on our land sites. Almost every corner of this country has some negative story to tell about sand winning in recent times. Forests have been pulled down, coastal soils, massively scooped and savannah areas degraded through sand winning. Mr Speaker, I have no doubt in my mind that attempts aimed at promoting food production and security would be fruitless unless negative activities like sand winning on our arable lands are properly checked and managed. For how long shall we stand aloof, watch and allow our lands to be destroyed by sandwinners? Mr Speaker, what are we doing as a legislative body to ensure that laws that protect our environment are made to work effectively? Mr Speaker, I do not believe we need a soothsayer to reveal to us that, theft of beach sand is a direct cause of erosion along many shorelines. It is very damaging and ruinous to beach aesthetics and frequently causes environmental damage to other coastal ecosystems, such as wetlands. Sand winning has rendered many well- patronised beaches, including once famous Dansoman and Korle-Gonno beaches, among other facilities useless, and dangerous because of the strength of waves. Sandwinning has become so rampant that almost every land piece is now vulnerable. Farmers continue to harbour fears since they do not know exactlywhen their farms would be destroyed. Crops are often vandalised to allow for easy collection of sand. Farmers go through many harrowing situations. Mr Speaker, situations and outcomes related to this particular topic in discussion are no different from those in my constituency, Nsawam Adoagyiri. Mr Speaker, preliminary checks indicate that Otukwadwo, Avaga,Okobeyeyie, Ahodwo, Nana Boame, Otqpse, Pampanso No.l, Gyankamah Dobro, Chinto, Akraman, Kofi Kwei, et cetera all within and around my constituency, have in the past, and are still suffering the dire and grave effects of sand mining activities. The above named communities are predominant farming areas. Farmers in these areas engage in large scale cultivation of various farm produce for export and supply to many of our major companies and industries. A fairly good quantity of farm produce from these sites are also transported to our markets and sold to local consumers. Already, Mr Speaker, farmers have a myriad of mishaps to battle with. There are natural, socioeconomic, cultural, religious and even political factors militating against farmers' production fortunes. Disappointments from the local weather, especially rainfall, prevalence of pests and diseases, lack of funding, high cost of farm inputs, machinery and implements, fluctuations in market conditions. The farmers' predicaments get deepened at the occurrence of disasters, such as bushfires, floods et cetera. In fact, the farmer has numerous hurdles to overcome before any successful production story can be told. These notwithstanding, farmers still struggle to till lands as means of livelihood. Mr Speaker, it is important to note that, farmers regard their farms as gold mines. Unfortunately, sand winning in modern times seems to have brought some imbalances to the agricultural sector. What makes the activities of sand winners so disgusting is the way they destroy farm lands. They hardly give farmers prior notification. Immediately they complete their contract agreements with the so- called landowners, they quickly move to the sites to initiate destruction. With the aid of bulldozers and excavators, these sand winners vandalise crops with impunity. The affected farmers are by no means compensated. Lands are rendered perpetually unproductive. Mr Speaker, aside the damage caused to crops and lands, sand winning activities pose health threats to humans. Moving trucks emit excessive noise and dust, causing pollution, and gullies created at these sites close to homes become breeding grounds for mosquitoes during rainy seasons. In order to address these challenges Mr Speaker, may I humbly suggest that, pragmatic and explicit laws and regulations be developed in a participatory manner so to facilitate enforcement and compliance at all levels within the social setting. Secondly Mr Speaker, I believe it is time to heed to incessant calls and advice by individuals and various agencies, actors and stakeholders to stem the negative tide. The various District, Municipal and Metropolitan assemblies, the Ghana Police Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry and the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry must be well resourced and legally empowered to prosecute illegal sand winners and other persons found culpable in relation to sand winning. But in the interim, Mr Speaker, may 1 humbly beseech you to invite the Minister responsible for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation before this august House to offer a briefing on planned or existing workable measures put in place to curtail this menace. Also, Mr Speaker, it is important to note that Ghana's resolve to mitigate the negative effects of climate change may face serious hiccups, should authorities continue to relax in clamping down on sand winning at unauthorised locations. No one is totally against the operations of construction firms. At all cost, houses would have to be put up, roads, schools, hospitals and markets need to be constructed and there is absolutely no way these can happen without using the soil. But it would be ideal Mr Speaker, if the authorities could properly designate areas for these soils to be collected. They must also ensure that prospective sand winners adequately complete all processes regarding effective land use, evaluation and reclamation, to allow for the protection of other people's welfare in the society. Respectfully and humbly, I submit. Thank you for your audience and the opportunity.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I beg to add my voice to the Statement by my Hon Colleague. I believe, he must be commended for the full content of his Statement. It has laid out all the facts on the ground on the issue of sand winning. I stand to support it because my constituency, Ablekuma South, also suffers from the negative effects of sand winning, particularly along the coast. I also speak for all the coastal communities of the Greater -Accra Region. This situation must be stopped. I beg to say that, the District Assemblies do not have all it takes to stop this situation and I say this from experience. The District Assemblies have to be backed fully and supported by the Ghana Police Service to ensure that we effectively bring this situation, if not completely eliminated, under control to some extent. The degradation along the coast is very distraughting, especially when one thinks of the fact that these days, all the coconut trees we used to have along the coast are virtually gone. So, there must be a two pronged approach. While we stop this exercise, we must also collaborate with our schools, youth communities and societies to go back to tree planting, especially coconut trees along the coastal lines. Mr Speaker, the matter has to do with enforcement. We have the laws; so, we need severe enforcement. I tried it when I was the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) -- but the District Assemblies must be supported. The task forces of the District Assemblies are not armed; they do not have the resources.
In such situations, we would need the strong arms of the Police or the Military to eliminate these situations from our environment. This is because the effect of it is too much to bear. Mr Speaker, I would want to thank the Hon Member who made the Statement and I fully support him.
Hon Members, there is nothing to guide me to identify you by your names and constituencies. So, forgive me if I point at you and try to make description of whom I would want to contribute. Hon Member, would you please assist me by mentioning your name and your constituency?
Mr Speaker, my name is Emmanuel Marfo, Member of Parliament for Oforikrom. Mr Speaker, for some time now, we have been discussing environment, degrada- tion and deforestation in particular. A lot of drivers have been identified. We have always said that, bushfires, illegal logging and so on, have been the main factors driving deforestation. This Statement has pointed out another important driver, and that is sand winning. With the reference that was made to the Ministry of Environment Science, Technology and Innovation, we might also want to have a more empirical study into the actual extent of sand winning and the environmental cost, so that we would be in a better positon to take a firm policy response to that.
Hon Member, is there any Ministry known as the Ministry of Lands and Forestry?
Mr Speaker, please, it is the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.
I will now recognise the Hon Member of Parliament for Ningo -Prampram.
Mr Speaker, this issue of sand winning is one that is really devastating, especially along the coastal areas of the Greater- Accra Region and the entire country. Mr Speaker, as the Hon Member for Ablekuma South stated, about 10 or 15 years ago, when one walked along the coast of the Greater Accra Region, it was replete with coconut trees. The trees are all gone. These trees acted as wind break and wind shield for villages and communities along the coast. In my constituency, every time there is a storm, the damage caused by wind becomes extensive because, there are no wind breakers -- because the coconut trees are gone. Mr Speaker, however, I must state that part of the problem exists with the current state of our District Assemblies and the roles they play. The sand winners pay tolls when they load. They pay to traditional leaders and to the District Assemblies. So, how then would the District Assemblies be able to enforce or control sand winning when it is also a source of internally generated fund (IGF) for them? Our District Assemblies must be able to determine what or where their stance is. Are they against sand winning? We can understand the Metropolitan, Muni- cipal and District Chief Execu- tives (MMDCEs) because it is also a source of income for the boys who load these trucks; it is a source of job creation. We must weigh the pros and cons and decide on which side of the balance we stand. We cannot have our cake and eat it. I would stand on the side that says that sand winning is destroying our eco- system. It is increasing the menace of flooding along the coast; it is increasing the effect of wind storm on communities. I do not believe that, the little income that is generated either for the chiefs or the landowners and the District Assembly is enough compensation for the amount of damage that happens to our eco-system and our bio-diversity. Mr Speaker, I would want to congratulate Hon Annoh-Dompreh for making such a Statement, which goes critically to the survival of many of our coastal towns, which are under the threat of extinction, thanks to sand winning.
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to add my voice to the Statement ably made by the Hon Member for Nsawam Adoagyiri. Mr Speaker, sand and gravel winning over the years has supported the construction and building industry and most families and individuals depend on these activities for their livelihood. Mr Speaker, the indiscriminate activities of some of these sand and gravel winning groups or individuals have the tendency of destroying farm lands and river bodies. It is necessary as a House, to come together and put a mechanism in place to regulate the activities of these indis- criminate sand and gravel winning individuals and groups who go round collecting sand and after collecting, do not reclaim the land and just leave it bare for its owners. Mr Speaker, if care is not taken, there is going to be famine in the country some years to come. This is because, there would be no more lands to cultivate or to plant our food to feed the entire nation. It is necessary that, we take cognisance of the issue at stake and come together and put proper laws in place to regulate the activities. Mr Speaker, if the laws are there, then it is the enforcement agencies, it is time that they crack the whip, so that our environment would not be degraded, which in the long run, would have effect on the entire country. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I would want to thank you for giving me such an opportunity to also add my voice to the Statement on the floor of the House.
Hon Members, I need the guidance of Leadership — How many more Hon Members should be recognised to contribute to this Statement? I ask because we have another Statement to deal with.
Mr Speaker, I guess we may take one more from each Side of the House, then we take the other Statements. But I wish to inform Hon Members that, when we rise up on our seats, we are required to attract the attention of the Rt Hon Speaker. We do not punch the button on the consul before us, otherwise, we jam the system.
Hon Members, your attention is being drawn to the fact that you have to catch my eye — [Laughter.] — Do not try to catch my ear — [Laughter.] — This is because I will not hear you. Hon Members, for gender purposes, I recognise the Hon Member for Pusiga.
Mr Speaker, I beg to comment on the Statement ably made by my Hon Colleague, Hon Frank Annoh-Dompreh, from the other Side of the isle. Mr Speaker, sand winning is a national issue, and I believe it affects the three northern regions, and for that matter, let
us, I believe it would go a long way to help us. In this light, I wish to congratulate the Hon Member who made the Statement once more and to thank you for the opportunity, Mr Speaker. Thank you. Some Hon Members— rose --
I recognise the gentleman in suit.
Mr Speaker, I suppose you already know me. It is your own friend, Hon Owusu-Aduomi because --
I did not hear you.
Mr Speaker, I said my name is Hon Owusu-Aduomi; Member of Parliament for Ejisu and I suppose you already know me. Mr Speaker, sand is a very important material for our nation building in terms of development of infrastructure. I believe the nation cannot do away without sand. We need sand for our buildings, concrete drains along our roads, we even need sand to stabilise road building materials that we put on our roads. So, it is a very important material; the problem is how we win the sand and do not restore the areas that they are won. Mr Speaker, the impact that sand winning has on the environment as has been indicated by the previous Hon Colleagues, are all true. It is also true that, the enforcement has been very weak. But it is important that the District Assemblies which are in charge or oversee these
Even though I can see that Hon Members are still interested in contributing, my guidance was to allow one Member from each Side of the House, which I think we have complied with.
Mr Speaker, you may call the Hon Bernard Ahiafor.
Are there any special reasons that we should differ from the earlier position?
Mr Speaker, I am yielding my position; I believe you said that you needed one Hon Member to contribute from each Side of the House?
Yes, from Leadership. I was guided to permit one from each Side of the aisle and I have done that. But you requested for a special consideration and I wanted to hear the special reason for that special consideration.
Mr Speaker, he was in his chair when the Statement was started. I was then outside consulting on other issues. When I returned, he had written down some notes and wanted to contribute but because I came, he has gone back to his normal seat. That is the reason I am making a special application for him -- If that is possible and at your pleasure, Mr Speaker.
Leader of the House?
Mr Speaker, I guess the fact that many people are still standing striving to catch your eye, means that there is still considerable interest. So, maybe, you may have to allow two more. He wanted to yield it for the Hon Member from Akatsi South and the former Minister for Works and Housing who is now the Minister for Inner-Cities and Zongo Development.
Thank you, Hon Leadership.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement ably made by the Hon Member for Nsawam-Adoagyiri, the Hon Frank Annoh-Dompreh. Mr Speaker, I am inclined to say that sand winning, in my view, would be indispensable in this particular country in the absence of any solid means of construction, devoid of using sand. Mr Speaker, the Statement talks about farm lands being destroyed. These lands would either have the ipso facto or determinable title, owners, the leasehold or tenant. Mostly, the sand winning activities would take place with the consent and concurrence of the owners of this particular land in question. Mr Speaker, the issue of farmers being affected as a result of the activities of sand winning, I believe, measures can be put in place to compensate them since we cannot live in this country, do our constructional work without the use of the sand. So, I would want to urge the District Assemblies which normally give permits for the sand winning activities, to, as part of means of granting permit, also introduce a means whereby the crops on the land take place are compensated. Mr Speaker, I believe strongly that, if a means of compensation is introduced, most of the farmers who would be affected as a result of the sand winning activities, would be compensated and that would not go a long way to affect their means of livelihood adversary. Mr Speaker, we need to put measures in place to actually introduce a regulation regime, such that after the sand winning activities, the areas would be dedicated for landfills. By so doing, overtime, we would reclaim this particular land for farming activities to go on on the land. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I thank you for the opportunity.
Yes, Hon Minister?
Mr Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the Statement made by the Hon Colleague. Sometimes, people normally have short- sightedness as far as this particular issue is concerned. Some believe it is easier to get jobs by winning the sand. Others believe it is the shortest way to get income. But unfortunately, in the long run, it affects not only the individual but the whole nation.
Hon Member, before you sit down, is there sand winning in the inner-city too? [Laughter]
Mr Speaker, yes. In a way, there is some kind of sand winning in some of the inner cities. -- [Interruption] -- Ningo Prampram is an inner city and it has a problem. We have to look at it carefully. In fact, the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing would feel guilty in a way because, we used part of Nsawam when we were doing the affordable housing. I believe the Government owes them because we were drilling -- [Interruption] -- We were not digging. We were rather winning the sand from the river. In a way, we were dredging and not winning. So, Mr Speaker, we would take care of that and thank you for reminding me.
Leadership, in the absence of the Hon Member for Tamale North, what do you advise?
Mr Speaker, I believe we could take an adjournment. But before then, the Statement that has been made by the Hon Member for Nsawam-Adoagyiri is a Statement that he made in this House about three years ago. -- [Interruptions] -- 2014. Mr Speaker, he has come back with this same thing and the entire House has joined ranks with him and we are dirging akin to the lamentations of Ezekiel. What do we do? I am of the opinion that, this is one of the Statements that we could come to some agreement on and maybe, refer same to some of the affected Ministries. The Ministry of Food and Agriculture is affected; the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation is affected; the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development is affected; the Ministry of Works and Housing as the Hon Minister for Inner- Cities and Zongo Development has alluded to, is affected; many of them. They are cross-sectoral. What is the way forward? Do we urge for a fuller study into this to avoid any future occurrences? What do we do? Mr Speaker, I say so because, in Nigeria, sand is not won from the land. For constructional purposes, they win sand from the river beds and even the sea. They do not allow for sand winning on the land. Can we learn useful lessons from Nigeria? Mr Speaker, it is something that we should maybe, conduct a study into. Mr Speaker, I am of the opinion that we should come to some agreement with advice from the Chair the final destination of this Statement. I am not too sure that we should allow it to fallow as we did the other time when the Statement was made on the floor of this House. Beyond that Mr Speaker, when we come to some determination, which I am not urging to be done promptly, perhaps, ponder over it and come to some agreement on it the way forward.
Yes, Hon Deputy Minority Whip?
Mr Speaker, I strongly support what the Leader of the House said. Mr Speaker, I would like to add that the Hon Alhassan Suhuyini is still at the Appointments Committee. That is why he is not here to make the Statement. We were made aware yesterday that the Hon A. B. Fuseini would make the Statement. We distributed them, but the plans changed when the Hon Suhuyini went for the Appointments Committee meeting. Mr Speaker, I would want to add that in deciding which Ministries the directive would be sent to, we must include the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources and the relevant sector Ministries that must delve into the cause of this sand winning. Mr Speaker, this is because, we cannot do away with sand winning but it must be controlled. Mr Speaker, are we talking of indiscriminate or illegal sand winning?
Hon Members, I believe we should do more work on this subject. This is not the first time such a Statement has been made. In fact, in almost all the Parliaments of the Fourth Republic, we have had occasions where similar Statements were made. It is true that these things were not carried further after the Statements. I would urge Hon Members to do some more work on it. We should look at the legal situation; what do our laws say? Look at the institutional arrangements and the various committees could then come together with a proposal for the House to look at. In doing that, the various Ministers would be involved. This is because, as you would all realise, it is cross-sectoral. In fact, it is multisectoral; so, many Ministries are involved in this matter. We cannot get sufficient information from the Ministers when they are called to come and answer Questions. So, it is better for us to form a special committee to work on this subject matter and present something through the Leadership the House to consider. The Hon Leader of the House just drew our attention to the practice in Nigeria. Are there other practices somewhere that we could learn from? The best sand is the river bed. We can see the Volta River is getting silted; there is a lot of sand there, yet we destroy arable lands in search of sand for constructional purposes. So, let us do a little work on it before any directives could be given in this matter. Is this proposal acceptable to the House? Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, that should certainly be the way to go since we all agree that it is multi-sectoral. We may constitute a special or adhoc committee to delve deeper into this. Mr Speaker, my attention has just been drawn by Hon Colleagues to article 268 in the Constitution. This is because, the soil that is being won is a natural resource. So, how do we relate the agreement that involves the chiefs and so on and the sand winners? Is article 268 operational in such circumstances? Mr Speaker, I guess the better approach is to form a special or an adhoc committee to deal with this and make recommendations to the House. Mr Speaker, as you said, it would be important to involve some of the Hon Minister to also tap their brains on the way forward as a nation.
I believe this is what the House is trying to do. If we have to form a special or an adhoc committee, I believe the Leadership would have to lead us to do this. They should let us know and see what we can do to support this very important Statement. Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, since this matter has suddenly arisen, I guess we would give ourselves some space to think through and come to some agreements on who should constitute the special committee. Mr Speaker, as you know, whenever we have to constitute a special or an adhoc committee, we may even require a Motion to do that. So, I would suggest to us that, we give ourselves some time -- Maybe, between now and Friday to do that, then come with a Motion after due consultation among ourselves, then we do that on Thursday or Friday.
Thank you very much. I know you will trigger the usual channels of communication and come out with something, so that at the end of the day, we could take a definitive position on this matter to guide the country.
Mr Speaker, what next is that, I beg to move, that this House adjourns till tomorrow at 10.00 o'clock in the forenoon to convene. Deputy Minority Leader (Mr James K. Avedzi): Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to.