Hon Members, we have Communication from the Office of the President. SPACE FOR LETTER, 10.10 A.M. PAGE 1
Hon Minority Leader?
Mr Speaker, with your indulgence, once it is a Com- munication coming from the President of the Republic, we are concerned with even the style. It is his prerogative to appoint Hon Ministers, but I do know that Hon Regional Ministers were the last to be considered by the Appointments Committee, and one would have expected that, Hon Ministers relative to the sector Ministries were those who would be consulted and their Deputies known. Mr Speaker, be that as it may, I raised this issue the other time, and up till today, even as we hear of Hon Deputy Ministers for the regions, article 76(1) of the 1992 Constitution creates Cabinet, and with your indulgence, again, I beg to quote: “There shall be a Cabinet which shall consist of the President, the Vice-President and not less than ten and not more than nineteen Ministers of State.” Mr Speaker, I raise this because, yesterday, we got the Financial Policy of Government, and article 76(2) states: “The Cabinet shall assist the President in the determination of general policy of the Government.” Mr Speaker, I would want to believe that the Financial and Economic Policy of Government is part of the policies of Government. We cannot be debating and approving it when we do not know the Cabinet of the President. Mr Speaker, indeed, the Constitution further provides for the appointment of a Cabinet Secretary. This is because, sooner than later, Bills and other major correspondence of Government would have to come to this House via the Cabinet Secretary. As we sit in this House, we know more Hon Deputy Ministers and we would want to see him respecting the provisions of the Constitution, in indicating to us who the Cabinet is. This is because he has more than is required. We have approved thirty-six (36). Of the thirty-six -- [Interruption] -- No! The Hon Regional Ministers come under the decentralised provisions of the Constitution. So, Mr Speaker, we demand from the President, to indicate to this House, the creation of Cabinet. The other day, the Hon Majority Leader dismissed it. It is a creation of the Constitution. When the Constitution says “There shall be a Cabinet”, it is not a matter that anybody could wish away -- “There shall be a Cabinet”. It induces a minimum and a maximum number. We cannot do Economic Policy of Government when we do not know who the Cabinet is and we do not know the Cabinet Secretary. I thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, yes, the Constitution provides that there shall be a Cabinet, and it further provides that the Cabinet shall consist of the President, the Vice-President and not less than ten and not more than nineteen Ministers of State. This is known to any student of constitutional law and indeed any Member of Parliament.
There is no provision that indicates that the list shall be submitted to Parliament. There is no provision anywhere. Mr Speaker, so, for those of them who do not know, I have said that, that list exists in the official publication. He should go and look for it. For the Hon Minority Leader to say that the list is not known to him, is neither here nor there. [Interruption.] It would surprise the Hon Minority Chief Whip.
Leadership, Order! Hon Majority Leader, we get the indication that these exist somewhere, and your Hon Colleagues must look for them. Leaders, do not compel me to name you. Hon Minority Leader, if I would complete, perhaps, you may see there is no need for you to intervene further. I have asked the Hon Majority Leader, who apparently is in the position to do so, to please provide the Hon Minority Leader with the list of Cabinet as soon as he possibly could. The Communication from the President is hereby referred to the Appointments Committee for consideration and report. Hon Members, item numbered 2 on the Order Paper -- Correction of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report. Votes and Proceedings of Thursday, 2nd March --
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, because of the issue raised by my Hon Colleague, the Hon Minority Leader, I was not too sure whether indeed, you referred the Communication of the President to the Appointments Committee. If you did --
Hon Majority Leader, this has been done.
Mr Speaker, I thank you very much.
VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Thursday, 2nd March, 2017. Page 1, 2, 3, 4, --
Page 5, 6 …8 -- Mr Mohammed Hardi Tuferu -- rose
Mr Speaker, I was here yesterday, but they have marked me as absent. It is numbered 10 in the list of the absentees -- “Tuferu Hardi Mohammed”.
Thank you very much. We are working on the electronic recording. I believe that would help us a lot. Hon Member, it is noted. Page 9, 10 … 13. Hon Members, the Votes and Proceedings of Thursday, 2nd March, 2017 as corrected are hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings.
Hon Members, Parliamentary Debates dated Wed- nesday, 22nd February, 2017. Any correction?
Hon Majority Leader, this time, it is not your title but your name itself. [Laughter.] So, which do you prefer?
Mr Speaker, I did not really follow what my Hon Colleague said. What I know to be the practice in the House is that, when a person is identified, he catches Mr Speaker's eye and he calls him, and he first makes a submission, he would be identified by his full name. Subsequently, if there are interruptions and the person comes back, then, the name may be shortened. That has been the practice; that is how they have been capturing the names. But because I did not follow what he said, I am not too sure what the Hon Member wants to situate in the name. If, maybe, an Hon Member dealt with a particular matter and sat down, and subsequently came back on another business, again, the name may be captured in full. But when he continues on the same trajectory, then he would be identified by a shorter version of his name, which is usually the surname. Then that may be the name that can be used to identify him.
Guidance will be taken accordingly.
Yes, Hon Member?
Hon Yieleh Chireh?
Mr Speaker, it is the same.
Mr Speaker, my good Hon Friend, Joseph Yieleh Chireh is not following the argument of the Hon Majority Leader. If what the Hon Majority Leader said -- Then there has been a transpositional error in the latter part. This is because, they start with the longer version, and shorten it later. In this case, it is the reverse. So, is he the same person?
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I am the same person. So, if this advice is going to the Hansard Department, they will take note. We have a uniformity in presenting names when this happens. Thank you very much.
Thank you. The Official Report of Wednesday, 22nd February, 2017 as corrected is hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings. Hon Members, item numbered 3 on the Order Paper -- Business Statement for the Eighth Week. Hon Chairman of the Business Committee and Majority Leader?
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Mr Speaker, the Committee met yesterday, Thursday, 2nd March, 2017 and arranged Business of the House for the Eighth Week ending Friday, 10th March, 2017.
Arrangement of Business Formal Communications by the Speaker Mr Speaker, you may read com- munications to the House whenever they are available. Question(s) Mr Speaker, you may admit Questions and those of urgent nature may be programmed to be responded to during the week. Statements Mr Speaker, pursuant to Order 70(2), Ministers of State may be permitted to make Statements of Government policy. Statements duly admitted by Mr Speaker may be made in the House by Hon Members, in accordance with Order 72. Mr Speaker, we know that there is a backlog of Statements that you have admitted, which accordingly, may be taken today and on Tuesday before the commencement of the debate on the Budget Statement. Bills, Papers and Reports Mr Speaker, Bills may be presented to the House for First Reading and those of urgent nature may be taken through the various stages in one day, in accordance with Order 119. Papers and Committee Reports may also be presented to the House. Motions and Resolutions Mr Speaker, Motions may be debated and their consequential Resolutions, if any, taken during the week. Post-Budget Workshop—Reminder Mr Speaker, the Business Committee reminds Hon Members of the post-budget workshop scheduled for Chairpersons, Vice Chairpersons, Ranking Members and Deputy Ranking Members of Committees with oversight over the Ministries, Departments and Agencies and the respective Committee Clerks. Mr Speaker, the Business Committee entreats the Leaders of the various Committees, who for good reasons may not be available, to nominate Hon Members to represent them at the workshop. Mr Speaker, the workshop would hold from this evening, Friday, 3rd of March through to Sunday 5th of March, 2017 at the Aqua Safari Resort, Ada. Debate on the Financial Policy of the Government Mr Speaker, debate on the Financial Policy of the Government of Ghana for the year ending 31st December, 2017, is expected to commence on Wednesday, 8th March, 2017. Mr Speaker, the Business Committee, mindful of the need to thoroughly debate the Financial Policy of Government for the year 2017, has proposed the following time allotments for Hon Members to make their contributions: i. Le ade rsh ip /Chair pe r sons / Ranking Members -- 15 minutes ii. Other Hon Members -- 10 minutes Mr Speaker, this is a proposal that we submit to the House, but we do know that the practice of the House has always been that, many Hon Members may want to contribute to the debate on the Financial Policy of Government. If that becomes the order of the day, perhaps, in accomo- dating many more people, we may then have to bring down the time and date, but it is intended to create space for as many Hon Members as possible to comment on the Financial Policy of the Government. Mr Speaker, the Committee, however, wishes to urge Hon Members to endeavour to be as brief and concise as possible and also avoid repetitions. Conclusion Mr Speaker, in accordance with Standing Order 160(2) and subject to Standing Order 53, the Committee submits to this Honourable House, the order in which the Business of the House shall be taken during the week under consideration. Tuesday, 7th March, 2017 -- Questions Statements Presentation of Papers Motion Committee sittings. Wednesday, 8th March, 2017 -- Questions Statements Presentation of Papers Motion -- That this Honourable House approves the Financial Policy of the Government of Ghana for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (Moved on Thursday, 2nd March, 2017 by the Minister for Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta) (Commencement of debate) Committee sittings. Thursday, 9th March, 2017 -- Statements Presentation of Papers Motion -- That this Honourable House approves the Financial Policy of the Government of Ghana for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (Moved on Thursday, 2nd March, 2017 by the Minister for Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta) (Continuation of debate) Committee sittings. Friday, 10th March, 2017 -- Questions Statements Presentation of Papers Motion -- That this Honourable House approves the Financial Policy of the Government of Ghana for the year ending 31st December, 2017. (Moved on Thursday, 2nd March, 2017 by the Minister for Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta) (Continuation of debate) Committee sittings. Mr Speaker, it is not intended to close the debate on Friday, 10th March, 2017, but to continue and bring it to a closure the ensuing week, possibly, on Tuesday following after Friday, 10th March, 2017. Mr Speaker, I submit this as the proposal from the Business Committee. Thank you very much.
Thank you very much, Hon Majority Leader. Hon Okudzeto Ablakwa?
Mr Speaker, I am very grateful for this opportunity to speak to the Business Statement, which has been presented by the Hon Majority Leader. Mr Speaker, on the 25th of January, 2017, this House passed a Resolution on our membership of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament. Mr Speaker, it has been more than a month since this Resolution was passed, and some of us expected that, following the circumstances that surrounded our delegation to the Community Parliament -- This House approved a set of eight Hon Members, but that is different from what we have at the Community Parliament, in terms of those who have been sworn-in. At least, one name is different. Mr Speaker, we expected that, at least, the Business Statement would have captured some processes to amend -- Or is it the case that, the swearing-in that took place is acceptable to Leadership or to this House? If that is the case, then a different communication has to go to the ECOWAS Parliament because my checks indicate that they expect some communication from us on exactly what our position is. Mr Speaker, do we send a different communication to confirm the new membership? This is because, we do know that one of the Hon Members, the Hon Afenyo-Markin, who was part of the eight-member delegation that this House approved, did not get to be sworn-in at the Community Parliament. Mr Speaker, the records of this House indicate that he is an Hon Member of the ECOWAS Parliament, but we do know that, truly speaking, he is not an Hon Member because he has not been sworn in. Mr Speaker, so, I seek your guidance on this matter. We do know that they created some unfortunate embarrassment in terms of the international Media coverage of the whole episode. So, I seek your guidance how this House would resolve this matter. Mr Speaker, would we send a new communication to the ECOWAS Parliament, or would we withdraw somebody who has already been sworn in? I am not clear in my mind how we would proceed on this matter, so, I seek your guidance. This is because it has been more than a month. Mr Speaker, I am grateful
Hon Majority Leader, are you in a position to assist with some directions?
Mr Speaker, I guess I would take some more comments, then I could respond to all of them.
Hon Member, you know that there is going to be more comments in that direction. Very well, Hon Dr Akoto Osei?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I would want to urge the Business Committee to strongly consider the closure of the debate on Tuesday as the Hon Leader said. It is not because I do not like the debate, but usually, after three days, we probably might have heard it all. More importantly, this House is mandated to look at the estimates, and that takes a long time. Mr Speaker, mindful of the fact that the Appropriation Bill must be approved by March 31, 2017, we need to be guided by the types of Sittings we would have, starting next week, so that we could begin to plan. This is because I suspect that when we start to look at the estimates, we would go into extended sessions almost every day. If that is the case, then Hon Members ought to plan. Or, at least, we could be informed, so that we could plan to expect that after the middle of next week, we would work late. This is to make sure that, by the time we rise, the Appropriation Act is passed. This is because, if it is not, the Government Machinery would be in trouble. So, I would wish to urge the Business Committee to close it and also give us an indication on the extended Sittings from next week. Mr Speaker, apart from that, I am sure the Hon Minister for Parliamentary Affairs is fully aware that the Hon Deputy Ministers have not been vetted yet, and that would even double the work of this House. So, from next week, I do not know how much space this House would have. We would then have to consider the suspension of our Standing Order so that, Statements and Questions may be deferred to allow space to do these two important things which are; the passage of the Appropriation Act and the vetting of Hon Deputy Ministers.
Mr Speaker, I believe Hon Ablakwa raised an issue about the composition of Ghana's team to the ECOWAS Parliament. Indeed, when we went there, there was a problem with the communication, naming the representation from Ghana's Parliament that went from this House to the ECOWAS Parliament. The Speaker there wanted all of us to return to Ghana or we should wait for the Parliament of Ghana to go through the Motion of reconstituting the team and communicating formally to them. But we proposed an alternative which was that, seven of us should be sworn-in and one person should be left out, so that the communication to the ECOWAS Parliament would remain valid. Subsequently, the two institutions would find a way of correcting the commu- nication. Mr Speaker, as it is now, they are indeed expecting some communication from this House and also for the records of this House, it would be appropriate that, we capture, as a matter of fact, who are our representatives to the ECOWAS Parliament. Mr Speaker, there is the need for this House to go through the Motion of amending its initial decision, composing the representation to the ECOWAS Parliament, so that the records would be corrected here and also communicated to the ECOWAS Parliament, so that their records there would also be corrected. I believe it is a very simple matter that should be captured and done as soon as possible. This is because, we would go back there for some business this March, and it would be good that these matters are sorted out before we go back.
Please, allow him; it is on a different matter.
Mr Speaker, with much respect to the Hon Majority Leader and the Hon Minority Leader, I recall that about three weeks ago, your high office referred a matter to Leadership with regard to a Statement I made on “Sand winning” and similar concerns that were raised by a number of Hon Members -- regularly in a text, we have reminded Leadership about that. The agreement was that, there was supposed to be an Ad hoc Committee mainly because of a constitutional provision that puts a certain respon- sibility on this august House. Mr Speaker, with much respect, I am sure this escaped my respected Leader. I would want to bring to the notification of the Hon Majority Leader, if plans could be put in place to put this Ad hoc Committee together as soon as prac- ticable.
Mr Speaker, I wanted to seek further clarification on the issue that was raised by Hon Ablakwa. Mr Speaker, I do not believe there was a problem with the communication from this House to the ECOWAS Parliament with regard to the issue about the resolution that was taken on membership of the ECOWAS Parliament. I believe there was a problem on the side of the Majority Caucus in relation to who was to go to the ECOWAS Parliament. Mr Speaker, I stand corrected, but I am sure there was a problem with the communication with regard to the resolution that we took as a House. The Majority Caucus should tell us who they believe would come from their side to make up the right number. The problem is not from the communication that was sent from this House.
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I beg to comment on the Statement made by my Hon Colleague on the other side on the sand-winning issue. I believe that, it is an issue that we need to address seriously. This is because, as we speak, the nature of the situation is still on the ground. And it is continuous and dangerous to our environment. I believe the earlier and quicker we attend to it and send a message, the better it would be to bring strong enforcement on this issue. I believe it is in the interest of all of us and our country. So, I stand to support my Hon Colleague on the other side that, we need to do something about it.
Mr Speaker, in the Business Statement for last week, it was scheduled that, Questions may be admitted by your goodself. Mr Speaker, about a month ago, I filed an Urgent Question. You requested that I see you for a discussion, which I did. I have as well raised the matter with Leadership, and had the understanding that it would be filed for this week. But it has not been taken this week. I am getting a bit worried because of its urgent nature. And it is obviously becoming stale. Mr Speaker, Standing Order 64(1) indicates, and with your permission, I beg to quote: “A Question shall not be asked without notice unless it is of an urgent character relating either to a matter of public importance or the arrangement of business, and by prior leave of Mr Speaker.” Mr Speaker, clearly, this Question that I asked, is of an urgent nature. And you admitted, that it is indeed of an urgent nature. I would imagine that, at least, today, irrespective of the fact that we had the budget statement being read during the week, it should have been considered today. So, I am humbly bringing it to your attention once again.
Mr Speaker, my issue has to do with item numbered 3 on the Business Statement on the post- budget workshop. I just want to find out if it is training of trainers. So that Leadership would go and benefit and come back and take Hon Members through. This is because, we would start the debate next week and I am, especially concerned about the new Members — [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, I would appreciate your indulgence to make a brief comment on the Business Statement, and to remind you that we would bring to your attention, some of the Statements that our Hon Colleagues have submitted for your consideration. Also, the Urgent Question of Hon Richard Quashigah, which has been outstanding together with many other Questions -- Mr Speaker, I want to request of you, a comment again, on the composition of our delegation to the ECOWAS Parliament as has been raised. Mr Speaker, two wrongs, they say, do not make a right. But I believe that this Parliament was disrespected; that a Motion was accordingly submitted, and we gave approval constituting our delegation. But the disrespect manifested at two levels; Once we have Mr Speaker convey a decision of this Parliament, we must respect that decision of this august House as so approved. Again, my Hon Colleague, the Hon Majority Leader must accept some responsibility. The ECOWAS protocols provide who is a Member and when that Member is no longer considered as a Member, by way of resignation, or dissolution of that Parliament -- I agree, but at least, there was a Member privy to some information which was helpful and could guide a decision we were going to take, which was to the effect that, once a person was a Member of it and has not resigned, the protocol allows the person to continue. That caution came, and I believe relative to our Hon Colleague, Hon Frederick Opare- Ansah, who was a continuing Member - - He further gave the caution, that we were constituting an entirely new delegation, and no old Member — even referencing the fact that, in times past, we had
benefited from experienced members going to ECOWAS by way of getting to the Deputy Speakership position. So, that also contributed. Mr Speaker, when they got to ECOWAS Parliament, Hon Alexander Afenyo-Markin, in attempting to avoid an embarrassment, also did not respect the decision of this House; we can understand the dilemma in which he was caught. This is the decision of this august House. We nominated him as a Member, he is caught in an embarrassing situation where, the Parliament of Ghana is being embarrassed. So, he chose to excuse himself to allow for the continuing Member to be sworn-in. Mr Speaker, morally, he may be right, but legally, he was wrong. This is because he did not respect what this House had conveyed as a decision. What he did morally was right, but legally, inappropriate and it amounted to disrespect of what we had conveyed as a Parliament to the ECOWAS Parliament. Mr Speaker, while I urge that Leadership would look into this matter, all of us must avoid conducts which undermine the integrity of this House. We should respect protocols religiously and endeavour that, these matters are properly settled before decisions are taken. I can understand and I must commend you because, I recall that you, with the Clerk, on three occasions, discussed this subject matter in order to avoid this embarrassing situation. You were deeply concerned, but you were not adequately helped by us in trying to appreciate it, even though the Hon Majority Leader, at a point with his Hon Colleague then, now Minister for Defence, gave some evidence to assist you in the work which also exposed some betrayals of principles and honour, these persons agreed that this would be the understanding and the day of implementation of that understanding comes, they ran away from it. That is not right and not acceptable. So, I believe that, as we look into ECOWAS, we should ask, did we as a Parliament respect the protocol of ECOWAS? No. If no, why? What informed that? Did we do it on the basis of some understanding that has not been respected? Whatever it is, this embarrassment could have been avoided and it should be avoided in future. Even though I can appreciate what our Hon Colleague -- Alexander Afenyo-Markin did, there is a decision of Parliament which was conveyed. Are we changing that decision? We have to. So, the decisions of this House do not lie in any Hon Member's travelling to Abuja, and on the floor of Parliament, the changing -- there that cannot be. If we convey a decision -- they come back here by a proper Motion. We adopted this by a Motion and they must come back here, so that what is appropriate can be done. But even for space, we could understand what went on, but this country still was not denied the embarrassment. Mr Speaker, thank you and I hope that Leadership would re-look at this matter with your guidance, then, we would do things that would save us from this avoidable embarrassment to the integrity and standing of Parliament.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. There are clearly issues that have been raised, that have no relevance to the Business Statement that we have considered. I agree that some of them are really germane to the conduct of Business in this House. Of course, to the extent that they affect the integrity of this House, we may have to address them, but apparently, to all intents and purposes, they have no relevance to the Business Statement before us, but because they have been raised, I would attempt to provide some answers. Mr Speaker, the composition of the delegation to the ECOWAS Parliament was done by this House. It is not as if we were not aware of the protocols underpinning the ECOWAS Parliament, we were aware and I would not feign ignorance. Mr Speaker, when the very em- barrassing situation occurred, the way it occurred, I have been personally linked to the matter as if it was upon my insistence that Parliament constituted the delegation the way the delegation came to be constituted. Nothing could be farther away from the truth, yet I know that people who are clothed in pettiness and mischief went out there to link my name, that it was the Hon Majority Leader who led Parliament to do that. It was not the Hon Majority Leader who led Parliament to do that. As the Hon Minority Leader is aware, Mr Speaker, this matter came before you and we had agreed about the composition to terminate membership: I believe this should be clear to everybody here. This is because, I hear people among us say that, the decision was faulty. It was not. Mr Speaker, the composition of the last ECOWAS Parliament was predicated on some assumptions and agreements that we were going to re-constitute the entire Mr Speaker, I believe I must forcefully register this. I cannot be angry and I am not angry and the Hon Minority Leader knows that, this cannot make me angry but I thought that, I should state this matter. Beyond that, there has been some attempts to engage the Hon Colleague in question. Unfortunately, over the past three days, he had been to my office, but we have not found space to meet. This is because of what we had to do, preparatory to the delivery of the Budget Statement. I believe that we could find space, maybe, over the weekend to engage in that, then bring this matter to a closure. Mr Speaker, certainly, two people cannot occupy one seat; the seat would have to be accorded to just one person, but I believe that, the Parliament of Ghana ought to express gratitude to the Hon Afenyo-Markin for his conduct at the ECOWAS Parliament, even though, as the Hon Minority Leader alluded to, what he did amounted to going against the decision of the House. Mr Speaker, we communicated after the decision had been taken to ECOWAS Parliament and that communication was done pursuant to Standing Order 52, and the Speaker could not have been wrong in what he did. The official communication from this House emanated from the Office of the Speaker and he did that under Standing Order 52. I am aware that some Hon Members wanted to raise issues about the conduct of a particular Hon Member at the ECOWAS Parliament and whether it
breached Standing Order 28 or 32 -- I do not want to pronounce on that, save to say that we need to have further engagements on this issue, and I believe that we could bring the matter to a closure in the fullest of time. Mr Speaker, this settles the issues of the Hon Minority Leader saying that, part of the blame should go to the Hon Majority Leader. Again, it cannot be right, given the background that I have unveiled, that I share any part of the blame. As I have said, we would continue the discourse on that and I believe that we would bring it to finality. Mr Speaker, in presenting the Business Statement, I indicated that we shall bring the debate to a closure the following Tuesday, that is, the Tuesday following after the next. The Hon Member for Old Tafo, the Hon Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation, has affirmed what I indicated, that we should endeavour to close the debates on Tuesday. We would certainly do that. We may have to have extended Sitting when we come to consider the Budget Estimates. Next week, we shall deal with the principles underpinning the financial policy. When we come to deal with the estimates, if we would want to do a tidy job on the budget estimates, it may become possible to have extended Sittings. Mr Speaker, I wanted us to prepare ourselves that we may have to close the debates the ensuing Tuesday. This is because, we are not into next week yet and I wanted to sound that, we may close the debates the Tuesday following the next. Mr Speaker, you just read this out to us; the list of Hon Deputy Ministers for the various regions. What we expect are the Hon Deputy Ministers for the various sector Ministries, I guess by Tuesday or latest by Wednesday, we should have the full complement of that list. Mr Speaker, the agony may be that we consider these nominations, concurrent to perusing and scrutinising the Estimates. We may have to bear with that because, this has often been the affliction of Parliament when we first have the Meeting in the first Session of a new Parliament. Mr Speaker, the issue about sand- winning, again, this is not really part of the Business Statement, I believe that, it is worthy and germane to the conduct of Business, and the former Mayor of Accra, Hon Alfred Okoe Vanderpuije, has reiterated the point. It is good that the Hon Member for Nsawam-Adoagyiri has brought it to the front burner. Mr Speaker, in the course of the weekend, Leadership would have some meetings and as I said, it is good he has reminded us. We shall endeavour to propose a composition of that ad-hoc committee, and possibly unveil it next week Tuesday, when we meet. Mr Speaker, the Hon Member for Effutu, Hon Afenyo-Markin referred to the item listed as 2 (c) and wanted to know whether the second sentence in 2 (c) is anchored on Standing Order 70 (2). I turned to my Hon Colleague and I noticed that he was not listening to me. Specifically, he used the word “anchor”. I know he is from Winneba and very many of his constituents are fishermen who are used to “anchoring” their canoes with ‘anchors', so, he used the word “anchor”. Mr Speaker, Hon Members would come to the realisation that every Parliament everywhere lives by rules as captured in the rules of procedure and by convention and practice. He is a lawyer and would know that it is the practice this Parliament has adopted, that Statements by Hon Members are not meant to generate debate.
Mr Speaker, this is just to remind you that he should address you. He is intimidating my Hon Colleague by looking backwards. He should address the Speaker.
Hon Member, you are out of order. You do not interfere with the Statement of the person who makes it where the Hon Majority Leader is standing now.
Thank you very much. Mr Speaker, even though you have ruled him out of order, I noticed that he wants to monitor and evaluate whatever I say. [Laughter.] So, my Hon Colleague would know that. On the Hon Member who asked about the filing of the Urgent Question, again, not part of the Business Statement, I noticed his concern about a Question that he has filed. He says that, the Question is clearly an Urgent Question. May I remind the Hon Member of Standing Order 66 (1)? He does not determine the urgency of a Question. In fact, he does not even have the authority to admit the Question. Admissibility of Questions is the sole preserve of Mr Speaker, and that is captured by our Standing Orders, Rules of Procedure, Standing Order 66 (1), determining whether it is of urgent nature. Mr Speaker, you are the singular person clothed with that authority, and unfortunately, not my good Friend Hon Quashigah. So, he cannot say that clearly, that Question is an Urgent Question. It does not lie in his mouth at all to make that determination. I believe that, with the proper consultation, the Question would be cleared as soon as practicable. I am of the firm belief that, Questions that are filed should not be kept in the oven for too long a time, otherwise, they lose their relevance. So, I am all fours with Hon Quashigah that, if Questions have to be admitted, they have to be admitted early, transmitted to the relevant Minister and answered as early as possible. Mr Speaker, I believe an Hon Member related to Standing Order 92 (1). He talked about interruption of debates by an Hon Member rising on a point of order. The point is, when a point of order has been raised, and Mr Speaker has listened, it is for him to pronounce on it. Standing Order 92(2) provides that not until determination has been made by Mr Speaker, no Hon Member may speak to the issue again. Once Mr Speaker gives a direction or ruling, an Hon Member may not go contrary to what ruling Mr Speaker might have given.
Hon Majority Leader, I did not hear your last statement.
Mr Speaker, I said I believe I have adequately responded to the issues raised by my Hon Colleagues and that, at this stage, you may want to put the Question on the Business Statement that the Committee has presented to the House. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Members, the issue raised under Standing Order 70 is very interesting but simple. It is not only a mere practice of the Hon House, but the only difference you see is that, Standing Order 70 (2) is detailed, whereas the subsequent one is not. A Statement may be made, that is what it says. You would realise that this often occurs in statutes, in laws past, then it becomes a matter of interpretation. When we look at the various provisions as a whole, we would give it a purposive interpretation and also, the sui generis rule is applied. If it is of the same kind and if the previous one is detailed, that which follows of its own kind needs not be detailed. In other words, we would pick from the former and understand the latter. Where in the statute there is detailed provision relating to a matter, then in subsequent provisions, we need not provide for the full detail, if that which follows, is of the same kind as the previous one. The previous one makes it clear what a Statement should not do, and it is very clear. It must be limited to the facts; it must not provoke debate. Then subsequently, we now talk about which Statement Hon Members may make, and it is of the same kind. It would also not generate debate, and that is my ruling. So, in future, Statements would not generate debate, guided by Standing Order 70(2) and applying that to any Statement whatsoever of its own character, kind or family. That would be my ruling in that regard. Hon Members, the issue regarding ECOWAS is a problem. It has been adequately dealt with, and if there is any future development, it would be tackled accordingly. That is the comment I would make at this stage, and in that connection, the Business Statement, as presented, is adopted. Hon Members, item numbered 4 on the Order Paper -- Statements. We have a number of Statements admitted this morning. There are two Statements on illegal mining, submitted by Hon Joseph Albert Quarm and Hon George Mireku Duker. Hon Quarm, you may make your Statement.
Mr Speaker, thank you for giving me this opportunity. Mr Speaker, water is universally acknowledged as life. Water constitutes about 70 per cent of the average human body weight, and 90 per cent of a living biological cell is made of water. Water, therefore, is an incredible resource for man and other life forms. Sixteen (16) countries in Africa virtually do not have water bodies, but Ghana has it in abundance. Sadly, a rather huge number of our water bodies have been “victimised”. These water bodies are being subjected to what operatives in the ‘galamsey'' sector describe as alluvial gold mining. These water bodies have been rendered almost useless and dangerous to any life form. Today, some of the rivers which flourished with fishing have become veritable factory yards of alluvial and surface mining by illegal miners. If water is indeed life, these illegal miners have chosen gold over life. Sources of drinking water to many are being polluted with mercury which is poisonous, therefore comes with its associated health implications. The destruction of our water bodies, forest reserves and farmlands continue at an alarming rate. The destruction of our cocoa farms, which is the backbone of our nation's economy, has become very alarming, affecting the country's cocoa output target year by year. The fate of our cocoa farmers in these mining communities continue to be in limbo as their farms are destroyed day by day. Mr Speaker, it is now sad to find illegal mining along the river tributaries that feed the Volta River with high volumes of water, the nation's major source of power, both around Bui Dam and Akosombo. Nowadays, illegal mining, also known as “gather and sell”, or more crudely, galamsey', has become a lucrative business which has attracted the influx of illegal foreigners, mostly Chinese, into the country. Even if it were to be legal, foreigners do not have the right to do it as it is an exclusive right of Ghanaians in accordance with our laws. However, some Chinese miners have defied legislation by taking illegal mining as a lucrative business, thereby destroying our water bodies, farmlands and forest reserves with impunity. The forest reserves at Nyinahini, Fomena, Odotobiri, Manso, Kaniago, Manso Krofrom and Nkaasu, all in the Ashanti Region are now under siege with illegal Chinese miners. It is very disheartening to see these illegal foreigners being protected by unscrupulous security officers who even support these illegal miners to abuse the rights of our citizens in these communities without recourse to the law. Their acts of impunity demonstrated, is a clear indication that our law enforcers in these affected areas are not really working. The use of heavy duty excavators by these illegal Chinese miners, both day and night, is a cause for worry. They treat Ghanaian citizens here in our homeland as canon fodder, with all due respect, Mr Speaker. They shoot and kill Ghanaians brazenly whilst everybody looks on. Three weeks ago, I personally witnessed 36 excavators which are actively working in two towns in my constituency (Manso-Nkwanta) in the full glare of security officers. The sad aspect is that, after the illegal activities, they leave their area of operation with large open pits without reclaiming the land. These large open pits have become death traps to our inhabitants and have claimed many lives. All efforts to get the law enforcement agencies to flush out these unscrupulous foreigners have proved futile. Currently, Mr Speaker, some unpatriotic Ghanaians front for these foreigners and acquire reconnaissance or prospecting license with the stated intent of going through the mining process of acquiring a large scale mining lease, but rather end
Thank you very much, Hon Member. There is a similar Statement from Hon George Mireku Duker. Then we shall debate both Statements on mining. Best ways of addressing the illegal mining (galamsey) menace
Mr Speaker, I am very grateful and privileged for the opportunity to make a Statement on the high incidence of illegal mining “Galamsey”, which seem to be on the ascendency, despite all the numerous efforts and attempts at curbing or reducing its high incidence. Mr Speaker, the current disorderly and unregulated manner in which mining operations and activities are carried out leaves much to be desired and constitutes a huge drawback on the progress and economic wellbeing of the country. It is an incontrovertible fact that Ghana abounds in natural resources with gold leading the mineral resources pack. There is however an urgent need to exploit these resources in a systematic and sustained manner, so that, the nation can derive the expected income and benefits while avoiding all negative approaches that would be detrimental to the nation's citizens, water bodies, as well as the environment.
instead of the regular “Shoot and Kill” method currently employed in fighting the menace. Moreover, regulators in the industry should be tasked to ensure that materials and chemicals used are safe and environmentally friendly. This will inadvertently help eradicate some of the diseases caused by exposure to harmful chemicals. Mr Speaker, there should be concerted effort and close collaboration among all relevant stakeholders, including Environ- mental Protection Agency, Ministry of Mines and Natural Resources, chiefs and well-meaning citizens, to work together to curb the menace. Mr Speaker, most important is the introduction of stringent legislation that could deter people from engaging in illegal mining, but which has certain incentives to encourage people to give up their illegal mining activities. Mr Speaker, the suggestion for the introduction of effective legislation, ties in with your call on Members of this House to come up with Private Members Bill, that would help change certain wrongs in the society but which will not have financial implications to the State. Based on this, I wish to take this opportunity to call on my Hon Colleagues whose Constituencies are directly affected by the “Galamsey” menace to come together to introduce a very effective legislation in the form of Private Members Bill to tackle this devastating menace. Mr Speaker, on this note, l say a big thank you for this opportunity.
Hon Members, we shall have two contributions from each side of the House. Since we have other Statements, I would offer five minutes for each contributor.
Hon Members, if you have already spoken this morning, please, assist me by not getting up. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, thank you very much and let me also thank the Hon Members who made these Statements on the issue of galamsey. Mr Speaker, the Statements have already alluded to some of the negativities associated with the galamsey industry: be it the destruction of the vegetative cover, which at times include our economic trees; be it the destruction of rivers and water bodies; be it the creation of craters and valleys that are left uncovered, which most of the time serve as death threats to our communities, and most especially to our farmers. Mr Speaker, it is a fact that this galamsey industry engages a lot of our youth and it therefore serves as an economic base for a lot of Ghanaians. However, I would like to focus on children who are engaged in this industry; children of school-going age. For more emphasis, I do not refer to students at the tertiary or even at the secondary school level, but I refer to pupils of basic school age -- those who are supposed to be in their early formative ages. Mr Speaker, it is critical that these ages are supposed to be the period that they are supposed to form their lives. This is the very time that they are engaged in this risky job. The jobs that they do are very risky and not the type of job that can be described as light-duty jobs. I say so because, I also have a lot of communities in my constituency that are engaged in these galamsey activities. When one gets to Bia galamsey site, one would come across boys and girls of the ages of 8 through to 12 years thereabout, who are supposed to be in school, but are found at these galamsey sites. Mr Speaker, most of the time, when we confront them and ask them why they are doing that job and rather not in school, they would say that they are doing that to fend for themselves. Some of them would even say that they are doing that to complement their family up-keeping. The job, as I earlier said, is a risky job and these children engaged in it are risking their lives. Mr Speaker, Ghana, over the years, has been touted as one of the countries that engage in child labour and that one area is in respect of our cocoa industry. If one dares to conduct a search or survey on these galamsey sites, the outcome would be very scandalous. A number of children who are supposed to be in school to form their lives are engaged in this risky job and it is so scandalous. It is therefore important that this topic of galamsey is looked at and looked at seriously. I, therefore, implore this House, and indeed, the Government, to outlaw at least basic school children who engage in this risky job. Mr Speaker, I say that the job is risky because, if one gets to the site, one would come across children digging pits to the depth of about 20, 30 or 40 feet deep into the ground. They enter the pits at times by ropes and come to the surface by ropes with a load of ore on their backs. This is the kind of job they do. Therefore, if this House and this Government takes a critical look at it by outlawing it, it would be the best thing for this House to do. Other than that, I can assure you that the future of these children would be bleak, the future of the communities these children hail from would also be bleak and indeed, the future of Ghana would be bleak.
Hon Member, would you wind up?
Mr Speaker, I thank you and the Hon Members who made the Statements for bringing these all important issues to the fore.
Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity. Let me also thank the Hon Members who made these Statements. Mr Speaker, the issue of illegal mining is a serious one that needs a concerted effort. It becomes less difficult to fight this menace when you have --
Hon Members, the Hon First Deputy Speaker to take the Chair. Hon Member, you may continue.
Mr Speaker, it would become less difficult to fight this menace when we have the support of the communities where these illegal minings take place. Mr Speaker, in my humble opinion, I think that regulations are enough because, a few months ago, this House amended the Minerals and Mining Act which seeks to give stiffer punishment to people who are culpable in illegal mining. But the issue has to do with the implementation of the regulations. The sad aspect of it is that, at a point in time, the people engaged in illegal mining rather use the security officers to intimidate the people living in those communities, and I would give you an example.
Mr Speaker, about a week ago, in one of the communities in my constituency, because the community resisted illegal mining, the illegal miners used the security officers and they arrested not less than 23 people from the community -- the name of the community is Mafia. These people were hurriedly arraigned before court and they were remanded for about one week. The sad aspect is that when we went to court, about 11 people were discharged; it means that they arrested them for no reason. Mr Speaker, this is a very serious matter and I believe that we should not leave it to the Ministry or the Commission alone. Illegal mining is an illegality just like any illegality, and if somebody is involved in illegal mining, it must be taken on like a murder case, stealing or any other illegal activity in this country. Mr Speaker, if we are not very careful -- because it is a fact that one of the reasons for the decrease in the production of cocoa is illegal mining. At a point in time, if we are not very careful, we would not even have land to farm. The effects are enormous, they degrade the area and leave very big trenches and when it rains, they get stagnant and breed mosquitoes and the people in the communities close by, easily get malaria. Mr Speaker, it is a very serious issue that we should all get involved in. It is a national security issue. It becomes very sensitive when the community is divided, and as a politician, you would not know where to go. Some people are for, and others against and then you would not know which side to belong to. It is a very critical issue, but if the law takes its own course, then it would not need the politician or the Hon Member of Parliament to come in at all. So, a proper directive must be given in this House, so that we all get on board to find a real solution to this issue. Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity.
MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER
Hon Members, I have been guided that there are six other Statements and today we would have to travel a long distance for the workshop. So, I believe that I would want to bring a closure on the discussion on this matter, after I have taken a contribution each from the respective sides of the House. So, I would give the opportunity to the Hon Member for Offinso South.
Mr Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to associate myself with the Statement made by the two Hon Members in respect of the menace of illegal mining. I quite remember that this is not the first time that the issue of galamsey or illegal mining has been raised in this House and nationwide. I also remember that some efforts were made in the past to deal with the situation and it appears that, those efforts were not sustainable enough to be able to decisively and finally deal with the situation. Mr Speaker, we are a country which has many laws and many institutions in dealing with a lot of situations. But it appears that when it comes to the implementation of the laws, then we find ourselves wanting. Now, there have been talks about engaging in commercial activities and commercialisation of agriculture. Mr Speaker, how do we practicalise this idea or policy if we do not protect our rivers and our water bodies? We all know that agriculture and water are inseparable and we also know that agriculture is one of the backbones of this country in respect of earning foreign exchange. Now, it appears that people are more interested in destroying our cocoa trees for immediate financial gains. Mr Speaker, I believe that, this disturbing phenomenon ought not to be countenanced because, once it is illegal, then it is illegal and the strict application of the law ought to be done. This issue is not an issue that could be dealt with solely by the security agencies. I believe that it needs the concerted efforts of everybody to decisively deal with the situation. We must all exhibit our unequivocal aversion to this menace, in order to protect our rivers and water bodies. Mr Speaker, our security agencies -- because they are in charge of the application and the enforcement of the law; they have to be up and doing and they have to act professionally in dealing with the situation. If a person is found culpable of having committed an offence, then the person ought to be dealt with according to how the law stipulates. This is because, the efficacy of every law is how ruthlessly that law is applied. It is only when we are able to do this that, this disturbing situation could be salvaged. Mr Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity.
Hon Member for Krachi West?
Mr Speaker, thank you very much. I rise to contribute to the Statements made by the two Hon Members on galamsey activities. I believe that, this activity is an albatross on the neck of this Government. This is because we have discussed galamsey activities in this country for far too long and before we could tackle activities on galamsey, the security agencies would have to be involved and the traditional authorities would also have to be involved. I would also urge the Committee on Lands and Forestry to visit the various areas; New Abirem, Denkyembuor and Kyebi areas - these are the worst affected areas when it comes to galamsey activities in this country. Mr Speaker, I was very pleased when His Excellency talked about the environment. So, I would urge him to have the political will to be able to tackle, especially starting from his backyard. This is because what is happening in those areas is so disheartening. I would mention the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources because they give the concession to surface miners and galamsey operators without checking whether we have economic trees on the lands or not. I know of a national best farmer whose cocoa farm was given on concession and the galamsey or surface miner had to negotiate with him to sell his cocoa farm to him to undertake surface mining activities.
I would not mind him. [Laughter.] Mr Speaker, I say this because I know for a fact that a concession was given to a surface miner -- [Interruption] -- Whether legal mining or not, a concession
was given to a miner, but unfortunately, the farm belonged to a National Best Cocoa Farmer -- it is a fact. So, in giving out the concession, the Ministry should have a monitoring team that would go to the land, to check whether or not we have economic trees on the land before giving them out for mining. Mr Speaker, if we do not do that, a time would come, when our cocoa farms that we gain from, through the export of cocoa -- when we do not stop selling the lands or giving out these lands as concession to galamsey mines, then all our cocoa farms would be lost. Mr Speaker, they deplete the forest, degrade the land and they pollute the source of drinking water. Mr Speaker, I would urge the Committee on Lands and Forestry to visit these areas, sensitise the people and advice them to reclaim the land after mining. That would help us as a country. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I thank you for the opportunity.
Hon Members, I believe that we all know what is wrong, we know who are involved and if we are willing, we could. Hon Collins Dauda is a very active participant in forest resources manage- ment. I know he knows what is involved, and if he would want to solve the problem, we the politicians know we could use the law enforcement agencies to do it. We talk and talk about it but we need to take the step. The next Statement is by Hon Linda Akweley Ocloo, the Member of Parliament for Shai-Osudoku Constituency. The consequences of road traffic crashes in Ghana
I thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to make this Statement on the consequences of road traffic crashes in Ghana. Mr Speaker, permit me to begin my submission with a quote by the author Moira Fowley- Doyle “Accidents happen, our bones shatter, our skin splits, our hearts break. We burn, we drown and we stay alive.” Road accidents in this country, I know, have been a major concern, not only to this House, but the people of Ghana as a whole. Mr Speaker, it is on record that, various submissions have been made by Hon Members of this House both past and present. However, as a victim of this painful experience, I deem it very appropriate to add my voice. Mr Speaker, road accident has made me a young widow, with the onerous responsibility of taking care of young children. Mr Speaker, one road accident can dash a whole family's hopes and aspirations. It simply leads to the loss of human resource. Mr Speaker, today, the 3rd of March, 2017, is a sad day in the lives of many people, including myself. Today reminds me of pain, but it also gives me the opportunity to appreciate what many others go through. My submission also gives me the opportunity to pay tribute to my late husband, Mr William Desmond Ocloo. Mr Speaker, today is exactly a year that he lost his life in a needless tragic road accident from the recklessness of an indisciplined driver. The recklessness of another road user led to the loss of the life of this gentleman who was known for his courage and vision. He was a breadwinner for many. Such a loss can only be described as needless; a devastating blow. Joe Willie, as he was affectionately called by his family and friends, had a bigger than life attitude towards everything that he sets out to achieve. He found a lot of comfort in a quote of Mahatma Gandhi: “Humanity is an ocean, if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the whole ocean does not become dirty. We must have faith in humanity”. This quote he used to refute any erroneous impression about politics and politicians. May his soul rest in perfect peace. Mr Speaker, there are too many reckless drivers on our roads. The alarming rates of road accidents should no longer be considered as accidental but as some kind of suicidal attacks on our roads. Mr Speaker, we may recall that in August 2005, Ghana lost three prominent doctors of the urology department of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital due to road accident. Mr Speaker, unfortunately, just last week, the former NPP Member of Parliament for Akwatia, Dr Kofi Asare also lost his life in another needless road accident. Mr Speaker, let me use this opportunity to make a passionate appeal to the Acting Inspector General of Police (IGP) to build upon the work of his predecessors to establish systems to effectively monitor his officers in their work throughout Ghana. Mr Speaker, as a nation, we would be failing if we do not find solutions to deal with reckless driving, the use of faulty vehicles and other serious offences on our roads. Mr Speaker, even though the Police and the DVLA are performing their roles, I still believe they must intensify their operations in order to reduce the human slaughtering on our roads. Mr Speaker, another area of concern which must receive serious attention is the management of the post-accident scene. It has been suggested that sometimes, the unprofessional handling of the accident victims complicates matters and even increases the number of lives lost. I personally believe lives could always be saved if prompt emergency services are available to attend to accident victims on site. Mr Speaker, as a nation, we owe it as a duty to protect lives and property and I entreat this noble House to come out with legislations that would help to strictly enforce road traffic rules and regulations in order to bring sanity to our roads. In conclusion, Mr Speaker, I will paraphrase the quote of Fowley Doyle and say, “when accidents happen, there are many different consequences: shattered bones, broken skin and broken hearts. We burn and drown. But we must stay alive, especially those of us who remain.” I believe we can achieve a reduction in the carnage on our roads if we commit to improving discipline on our roads, for as the saying goes, “where there is a will there is a way.” Mr Speaker, may the souls of all the faithful departed through avoidable and needless road crashes, including my late husband, rest and find eternal peace.
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I would like to thank the Hon Member for the Statement she just read and also take the opportunity to express my condolences to her and the family for the tragic loss of her husband. We know all of us would die. But how we would die, sometimes, when it is unavoidable, is very painful. So, my condolences to her. Mr Speaker, we cannot talk about accidents without talking about two important people; the drivers and the law enforcement agencies. Interestingly, we do not show much interest in how they get their licenses and how they get the qualification to drive. Often, one sees these drivers and from the way they talk and do their things, one would see that, psychologically, they are not even qualified to be on the roads or to be using the machines they are using. However, not enough measures are put in place to look at the psyche of the people whom we give licences to drive. In the long run, what happens are some of these avoidable accidents. Mr Speaker, I also want to talk about the Police. I know there are excellent policemen out there doing fantastic jobs. However, if we ply our roads -- I always would want to stop when they flag and listen to what they would want to say or ask. Even when they see that everything of yours is good, they would say, “oh, your small boys; we are here oh; we are waiting for you.” Mr Speaker, as soon as one does that, it means one has compromised one's stand as a law enforcement officer. Whenever one sees a policeman seriously making sure that the law is enforced, it means there is something undertone. They would pull a person to their offices, and eventually, they would let him go. Mr Speaker, it is high time we let our Police rise on their feet or for the Police to take some of these things seriously. This is because innocent lives, prominent people who are of value to this nation, lose their lives through reckless driving and through lack of enforcement of the rules and regulations of our policemen. Mr Speaker, I thank you so much for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, I rise to contribute to the Statement made by Hon Linda Akweley Ocloo, Member of Parliament for Shai- Osudoku Constituency on the consequences of road traffic crashes in Ghana. Mr Speaker, the issue about road traffic accidents is not only about road safety, but it is also an issue of public health concern. Mr Speaker, we are losing too many lives in this country through road traffic accidents. Annually, we lose about 1600 lives; averagely about four (4) deaths daily. About 70 per cent of these deaths are males and 30 per cent are females. This should be a worry to all of us. Mr Speaker, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has projected that if nothing is done about road traffic accidents by the year 2020, road traffic injuries would be about the third ranked causes of morbidity and mortality globally.
the human factor, where the drivers form about 60 per cent to 70 per cent of the cause, Indiscipline, use of drugs and alcohol contribute to the reckless nature by which our drivers drive. The vehicular factors are also there: the kind of vehicles we use and whether they are in the right condition. Mr Speaker, the nature of our roads is another factor. What is also worrying is that, generally we know that when roads are bad, then we anticipate that we should have more accidents. In Ghana, it is the opposite. When the roads are good or fairly good, that is when more accidents are recorded. The nature of road traffic accidents is that, it is not a respecter of persons. Politicians die, doctors die, journalists die and children die. We are all at risk. Anytime someone dies through road traffic accident, the question I ask myself is, “could I be the next person?” Mr Speaker, the last contribution I would want to make is about our response to emergencies resulting from road traffic accidents. Mr Speaker, our health system does not have the adequate capacity to respond to save lives when we have casualties resulting from road traffic accidents. Mr Speaker, I join the Hon Member who made the Statement to call for collective action by the National Road Safety Commission, the Police, Ministry of Health -- I mean, all of us should join hands to ensure that we prevent road traffic accidents because, together, we can save millions of lives. Several Hon Members -- rose --
Thank you. Hon Members, I want to allow one person from each side of the House. All right, Hon Samuel O. Ablakwa? After him, I will recognise you.
Very well. I have already given him the opportunity, so, he will only lose the Leadership right.
I am most grateful, Mr Speaker. I feel strongly about this Statement because, the Hon Linda Ocloo is my neighbour; she is the Hon Member of Parliament for Shai-Osudoku Consti- tuency. Mr Speaker, right from my hometown in Aveyime, one could drive into Shai-Osudoku. We are quite close. I also knew her late husband very well when we were campaigning during the primaries. The moving thing about this Statement is that the late Hon Ocloo would have been an Hon Member of this House. I would want to express my gratitude to the good people of Shai-Osudoku for considering his spouse, Hon Linda Ocloo, who was then elected after the passing on of her husband in the primaries, that
was organised after the unfortunate accident. So, at least, the family can be slightly compensated. One can never be compensated in situations like these. I am very happy that the Hon Linda Ocloo made it to this House to carry out the vision that her husband had for the good people of Shai-Osudoku and for the country that we also dearly cherish. Mr Speaker, road accidents have certainly reached an alarming proportion and we all have to be worried. I believe that we need to move beyond the education, the appeals, and the sermonisation and begin to launch a full enquiry into the causes. This is because, as it has been said, we would find out that, sometimes, when the roads have been fixed, that is when the incidents on those roads increase. So, we may want to raise the issue of engineering of our roads. Are we engineering them in a way that would help us to at least reduce the toll? According to official statistics, by November last year, more than 11,000 people had died from road accidents. In one year, more than 11,000? That is staggering. That is really unacceptable. Road accident is now the major killer in this country. It is not Human Immune Virus (HIV) that so many people fear. So, every day that we sit in our cars, we are all at risk. This is because, it is not only about us; we can try to get all that is required, follow the rules, drive cautiously and be very careful on the road. But somebody else from nowhere can just take you out. Mr Speaker, there is also the issue of licensing. How do drivers obtain licences these days? We know of the roles of ‘Goro Boys' and how people cut corners. This is because I see how people drive in this country and I wonder how they got their licences. We need to take a second look at that. I know that Mr Speaker has played the leading role and tried to improve on services at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) in his previous life when he was the Chief Executive. But we still know that, the issue of ‘Goro Boys' is still around, and people manage to obtain licences without going through due process: they do not write examinations, they are not tested, they do not check their eyes to know whether their vision is good, and even their psychology; whether they are fit to be put behind the steering wheel. They all obtain licences and they become killers on our roads. So, we really have to take this matter seriously. I do hope that as a nation, we would begin to see this as the number one killer now, and go into this matter to find out what the causes are. This is because a lot of education has gone on -- The Motor Transport and Traffic Directorate (MTTD) has previously done a lot, the Road Safety Commission as well, but it does not appear that the casualties are down. The incidents keep increasing, and we are all -- all of us, as Hon Members of Parliament, have attended funerals that the deceased were victims of road accidents. Mr Speaker, in my own case, only recently, I had to attend a mass funeral in my constituency because, a Metro Mass bus was involved in an accident. That was the second time in two years that this had occurred. So, I have lost more than forty constituents in two years due to these road accidents. So, we are all at risk, and this is a matter that we should take seriously. Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I would want to congratulate the Hon Member who made the Statement, and commend her for her courage and composure -- the way she was able to put herself together to read this very emotional Statement. I know that it is not easy at all. But we convey our condolences to her and her family, and we do know that, the good Lord would continue to strengthen her.
Hon Members, I had already recognised the lady Hon Member at the back. After her, I would come to Leadership because there are five more Statements we would have to read before we rise.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the Statement read by my Hon Colleague, Ms Linda Ocloo. Ms Ocloo, I share in your pain, I know how it feels like, and I believe that the women who sit in this Chamber share in your pain as well. It would be well and it is well. Mr Speaker, the figures that come from the National Roads Safety Commission indicate that the carnage increases every day, especially the deaths in our communities, that, is pedestrian deaths. Simple thinking, excuse me to use that word, should tell every driver -- I am a driver and you are a driver also, that when we get to a town or a city, we should slow down. Mr Speaker, three days ago, in Afadzato South, I lost a constituent who crossed the road to board a vehicle but was run over by another vehicle. She left behind eight children, and the last one was six months old. Mr Speaker, these are the things that we experience. In December, an eighty- year old friend of mine from the United States of America (USA) came home for the holidays -- she would be buried in Winneba tomorrow. Why? This is because she attempted to cross the road to go and buy milk, and got killed by a vehicle or a reckless driver. Mr Speaker, what could we do now? The regulations or the laws sit on our shelves, the Police is there, the Commission is there and everybody is there. I believe that, for now, as my Hon senior Colleague said, it is beyond education. Mr Speaker, shall we try and use our Committee on Transport to meet with our pastors in this country? We all know that people listen to them -- the prophets, the prophetesses and so on. They could devote two minutes of their time to talk about the safety on our roads. They must talk about it and we would listen. I am sure a lot of people listen to them. Mr Speaker, I believe that we should think about that one, so that daily, during our church services, the pastors could talk about it, and the message would go down well. I am sure that when they talk about it, it would be heard by a large number of people. Mr Speaker, on that note, I thank you for the opportunity.
Hon Member for Takoradi, I would give you one chance and then come to the Majority Leadership.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, I would like to thank the Hon Member who made the Statement for such a brilliant work. I believe that, the continuous increase in numbers of road accidents and deaths that result from road accidents clearly show that we do not do the right thing. This is because we can never do the same things and expect a different result. The results are not encouraging, and I believe that, we need to go back to the basis and look at what we would need to do to provide solution to this particular problem. Mr Speaker, I believe that it starts with our attitude and our licensing. Most of the major road accidents that we have in this country, one comes to find out that the drivers are licence A drivers. The drivers of big trucks, big volume cars, like the State Transport Corporation (STC), the Very Important Persons (VIPs), are all drivers with licence A, and usually with five to ten years experience. Mr Speaker, recently, I got involved in an accident because the driver of a big bus just drove reverse on a major highway in the country, and he held a licence A. So, I believe that, we need to really look at the way we train our drivers and issue them with licences. Mr Speaker, I believe that first and foremost, because most of the drivers come from uneducated background, they tend to use the services of goro boys at the Drivers and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), and usually, we do not tend to mentor or monitor them through the process. Mr Speaker, I believe that the licensing should no more be an individual issue, more so for people who would want to use driving as a profession. It is time that, maybe, we use the associations like the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) -- they would have to go to their centres and be trained there. We would have to give some powers to the association to monitor and manage these people before they become very experienced. If we allow them to get their licences on individual basis, they would engage in short cuts, and I believe that would not help this country. Mr Speaker, furthermore, if we take the design of our highways -- the last time I went to China, one would come to realise that virtually every village had only one entrance into the village, and another one outside the village. In Ghana unfortunately, all highways are stores, so we have people that move onto the highway from many directions. But when one goes to China, there are fences across the town, so that there is only one entry and another entry out. So, when they come out, they are sure that they are really entering the Highway. Mr Speaker, in the situation where people get into a shop and just move onto the street, assuming that we have hundred shops, it means that we would have hundred openings that people could just jump onto the highways. Meanwhile, we have classified these roads as highways, and people move at top speeds of 100, 80 and 120. I believe that we would have to start to look at the designs of our towns, our villages, and the way people enter these highways. Mr Speaker, the other thing has to do with the current arrangements to issue the licence -- the computerised licensing examination. A bulk of the population of this country that actually go for licences are not educated to a certain level. Mr Speaker, I know that in your time, you tried to put in a policy that only Junior High School (JHS) graduates should be given licences. It is very unfortunate that even today, we complain that JHS pupils do not seem to understand the English properly, and therefore, when we put them behind the computer, we do not expect them to pass. So, naturally, a lot of them would use the goro boys, and do their own internal arrangement to get them licence, when they are not qualified to do so. I believe that we would need to look at a pictorial system that can be used to teach them the trade, and use same arrangement even if it is through computer for them to be able to pass the licensing test, so that when they get it genuinely, and when they get people at their station to monitor them, then we are assured that in the long term, these issues of accidents would never happen. Mr Speaker, last but not the least, this House recently passed the Legislative Instrument (L.I.) on the DVLA. I know that you were part of that process. Unfortunately, these days, when vehicles break down, it takes a long time for them to be towed from the road. Even though the L.I. has been passed, we do not implement it. I believe that, as a former boss of the DVLA and as I listened to the concerns of this House, we might have to direct the DVLA to re- visit that issue, so that, the towing trucks would immediately come back on the roads to work so that, Ghanaian roads and highways would be safer for us to live longer lives.
Hon Deputy Majority Leader, the speed limits are applied in each lane. If one exceeds the speed limits, it does not matter which lane one is driving in. The true use of the speed lane, is to overtake a slower moving vehicle. So, let us not create the impression that, if one is driving less than 100 kph, one cannot use that lane.
Mr Speaker, maybe the argument did not come out well. It is not to suggest that the one speeding on the speed lane is going above the speed limit. Mr Speaker, but indeed, if the speed limits is for instance, 60 kph and someone decides to go 10 kph on that lane, where it is meant for speeding or overtaking, we can imagine what would happen on that road. So, we need to have our basics in some of these things. Mr Speaker, I believe that adult education ought to be organised for our drivers, Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) and all the unions and associations of drivers. We should also volunteer to go out there to talk to them and teach them about some of these basic things in the language that they understand. If we go and speak English and the people there do not understand — One goes there in suits, and believes that he or she has worked, indeed, they have not trickled down the information to the needed people.
The next Statement is in the name of Hon Kobena Mensah Woyome, Member of Parliament for South Tongu.
Mr Speaker, I appreciate that you have moved to the next Statement. I should have discussed this matter with you, pursuant to Standing Order 50. Be that as it may, I am not too sure if you would want to permit me.
Very well. Challenges posed by Aquatic weeds in the Lower Volta Basin
Hon Members, in addition to this, there are three more Statements. So, I would allow one comment each. I would start from Hon Annoh- Dompreh
Mr Speaker, I am grateful, and I would try to be as brief as possible. Mr Speaker, let me congratulate the maker of the Statement for the choice of the area. More often than not, the subject area would appeal to people who have a technical eye. So, I congratulate him for identifying the issue, putting together a Statement and bringing it to this august House. Mr Speaker, there are institutions of State; for instance, the VRA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Water Resources Commission (WRC) and of course, the relevant District and Municipal Assemblies. This matter should not just be spoken about, debated and left to die naturally. I hurridly want to suggest that the relevant Committee makes a trip to the site because it is definitely a huge environmental concern. This is because of the interface it has with a very important waterbody, and the other ramifications that it could have on the nation. So, I would want to suggest that a quick visit is paid to the place. Mr Speaker, if you would recall, the Ministry of Transport was engaged in some activity to remove tree stumps from the Volta River -- I stand corrected. They were supposed to do an activity like that. Somehow, the contract was abrogated. I would want to suggest that the focus should not just be on the weeds growing out of proportion on the waterbody, but the removal of these tree stumps from these waterbodies, which have the potential of facilitating certain accidents on the waterbody. This has to be done in conjunction with the removal of these weeds. It is extremely important, and I hope that, the relevant Committee would visit the place and this matter would be delved into. Mr Speaker, I am very passionate about the environment. I also take cognisance of the fact that, the respected Hon Majority Leader had indicated that on Tuesday, an ad hoc Committee would be put together to look at some matters which were raised on environmental degradation and undue exploitation of our natural resources. I would want to plead, if this matter could be added, aside the Select Committee's visit, so that we could thoroughly look into this matter because of the interface it has on such a huge natural resource -- the Volta Basin. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I thank you for the recognition.
Mr Speaker, thank you. I consider it an opportunity to comment on this particular issue. Let me use the opportunity to thank my two Hon Colleagues for speaking on this issue -- Hon Woyome, in particular, for being timely with the Statement. Mr Speaker, my constituency is not an exception when it comes to these aquatic weeds; not forgetting that of my Hon Colleague, Hon Ablakwa. Our people are the hardest hit when it comes to this issue. My District capital, Adidome, is also a key victim when it comes to aquatic weeds, not forgetting Tsetsekpo, Akpokofe, Devime, Kebenu, Mafi-Dugame, Old Bakpa, Mafi-Zortikpo, Kebegodo and Awadiwoekome. When one gets to Awadiwoekome, which is an island, the place is entirely overtaken by the aquatic weeds. When I was campaigning and I got there, the people complained bitterly and appealed to me to ensure that something was done about it. Mr Speaker, so, I would want to associate myself with the Statement and plead with the relevant Committee to take this issue up seriously. The unfortunate situation in this case is that we are told that the VRA, whose activity caused some of these problems, has given some support to the communities living along the upper basin of the river to the neglect of our place. We understand school children were given scholarships. We also understand school infrastructure was provided for some of these communities, but we do not stand to benefit from all of these. So, I would like to appeal to this House to intervene on our behalf, and appeal to the VRA to ensure that we also benefit from some of these facilities. Mr Speaker, I would like to plead with the relevant Committee as proposed by my Hon Colleague, to visit the place, look at the situation and think about what to do about it. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
I want guidance from the Leadership. I have three more Statements by the Hon Member for Subin and others by the Hon Members for Klottey-Korle and Nabdam. In view of the time and arrangements, I want your guidance. Do we continue or defer it to Tuesday?
Mr Speaker, as rightly indicated, there is a post-budget workshop which is being organised over the weekend for leadership of the various Committees. It is going to take place in Ada. In view of the fact that per the Business Statement submitted by the Hon Majority Leader, not much is scheduled for Tuesday -- The Budget debate commences on Wednesday. So, I would humbly plead that, we retire, and take the other Statements next week Tuesday, if it so suits Mr Speaker. Thank you.
Available Hon Leader, we want to hear from you.
Mr Speaker, the available Hon Leader concurs. I agree with the Hon Deputy Majority Leader that, looking at the mood and the lay of the ground, it is clear that, there is an appetite for Business to be deferred to next week Tuesday when we return, considering that, on Tuesday, we can have ample time for Statements. The Budget Statement debate would begin on Wednesday, so, I agree with the Hon Deputy Majority Leader that, if it pleases you, Mr Speaker, we defer the three remaining Statements to next week Tuesday. The Hon Members to make the Statements are here, I am looking at their faces and they do not seem to object. I believe that they would all be available on Tuesday, especially the Hon Member for Klottey-Korle, who is smiling. I believe she agrees with us that she can make her Statement on Tuesday, if it pleases you, Mr Speaker.
Very well. In that case, Hon Deputy Majority Leader, I would wait for your Motion.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to.
The House was accordingly adjourned at 1.14 p.m. till Tuesday, 7th March, 2017, at 10.00 a.m.