VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT
Hon Members, item numbered 2 on the Order Paper -- Correction of Votes and Proceedings and the Official Report. The Votes and Proceedings dated 4th April, 2017. Page 1,2 …9 -- Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I was on my feet when you called page 7, but I did not succeed in catching your attention. Mr Speaker, number 13 under item numbered 4 on page 7 -- Hon Frank Annoh-Dompreh was in the Chamber yesterday. Hon Samuel Atta Akyea was also in the Chamber.
Thank you very much. Page 10, 11 …15.
Mr Speaker, I am sorry to take us back to page 8. Mr Speaker, Hon William Agyapong Quaittoo and Hon Elizabeth Afoley Quaye were both in the Chamber.
Thank you very much. Hon Members, any other correction?
Mr Speaker, Hon Fifi F. F. Kwetey was in the Chamber yesterday, but he has been marked as absent.
Thank you. In the absence of any further corrections, the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 4th April, 2017 as corrected are hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings.
[No correction was made to the Official Report of Thursday, 16th March. 2017.]
Hon Members, item numbered 3 -- Statements. I have admitted a few Statements, and the first one stands in the name of Hon Eugene Antwi, titled Congestion in Subin.
I am most grateful, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I rise to make a Statement on some disturbing issues on the current state of affairs in the Subin Constituency in particular, and the Kumasi metropolis in general. It essentially concerns a potential social upheaval and disturbances. These happenings are left unchecked due to the huge expectation of the people. Mr Speaker, the Subin Constituency is located at the heart of the Kumasi Metropolitan Area and it shares borders with a number of constituencies such as Bantama, Nhyiaeso, Asokwa, Oforikrom, Manhyia and Asawase. It is about the smallest constituency in size, but the most densely populated, especially during the daytime, as it is and has always been the place to be. Mr Speaker, like most cities and urban areas of Ghana, Kumasi has grown organically from the original one-mile square, with the centre at the General Post Office in Adum, Subin, and this has resulted in a situation where Adum is the location for almost every civil transaction with governmental agencies, et cetera. This situation has made the daytime population, arguably the highest in the region, and as a result, congestion is very rife. Mr Speaker, being where it is, Subin has become home to a lot of ethnic groups in Ghana, and any negative impact has the capacity to affect a lot more families and households. There are nine electoral areas in Subin, namely; Baamu Dominase, Nsuase, Fante New Town, Asem, Asafo, Dadiesoaba, Amakom, Afful Nkwanta and Anlo Fante New Town. The dominant economic activities of the residents are provision of mechanical fitting services, trading, teaching, banking, civil service, artisanal, driving, building and health services. The main ethnic groups which make up Subin are Akans, who are in the majority, Mole-Dagbani, Gruma, Ga- Dangbe, Ewes and Hausas. Locations and facilities Mr Speaker, the Subin Constituency houses in its entirety the original Central Business District as designed by the city planners. Some of the facilities located in the constituency are: The Kumasi Central Market, the largest open air market area in the West African sub-region The Baba Yara Sports Stadium The Civil and Public Service institutions in general The major banks and financial institutions such as GRA, insurance agencies, et cetera The Military Barracks and Headquarters The Police Barracks and Headquarters The Central Prisons and Headquarters The principal shopping streets and retail outlets The Kejetia Transport Terminal The Asafo Market Transport Terminal; and The Central Post Office. Travel pattern in the city Mr Speaker, the housing of these facilities in the Subin Constituency has dictated the travel pattern of the residents of the city of Kumasi in a way, as people have needs to be met by these institutions daily, and this has resulted in increasing levels of human and vehicular traffic on a
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to comment on the Statement, which is well made by my Hon Colleague. Mr Speaker, it is true that Kumasi is one of the most populated cities in Ghana, and as the Hon Member who made the Statement suggested, the city is growing organically. There are reasons underlying that. Kumasi is a major commercial hub in this country. Apart from the fact that a lot of foodstuffs are produced there, some low level manufacturing industries and a major educational centre also reside in Kumasi. It means a lot of people would gravitate towards Kumasi for various reasons. Over the years, this has led to uncontrolled development. Indeed, if you were to go to the central part of Kumasi, from about 11.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. navigating yourself around would be very difficult. If you look at the Kumasi Central Redevelopment Project that is ongoing, the designers find it difficult to provide space for car parking, so, Phase 1 of that project does not have any parking space. It is just a drop off zone. So, if you were to go and shop, the best you could do is to be dropped off, and then the vehicle moves on, except those people who work in the market and their delivery vehicles. Mr Speaker, we are told that Phase 2 of that project will provide some parking space and also deal with some of the congestions that the Hon Member talked about. Mr Speaker, I think we need to look beyond that. We have a situation where the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), one of the best universities in this country, is also increasing in population. There are lots of people moving from that place to the centre of Kumasi to do many things. If we read that Statement, it looks like all the civic activities in Kumasi are located within that area. This means that whether one likes it or not, if a person wants to do some banking or conduct certain businesses, he or she is compelled to go through that place. It is time for us to consider the possibility of having an effective public transport system which can take people from the centre of Kumasi to the suburbs. It should not be something that Government alone should consider. I am sure people are industrious enough, and
Yes, Hon Member?
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I rise to commend the Hon Member who made the Statement. I would want to make a few points on what he said. Mr Speaker, a couple of weeks ago, the President's nominee for the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) was overwhelmingly endorsed. I believe this Statement has come at the right time for the new Mayor to take on board the challenges that affect Subin and the Kumasi Metropolis. Mr Speaker, the KMA itself is situated in the Subin Constituency. I believe the Mayor has no choice but to listen to the concerns of the Hon Member for Subin. Mr Speaker, this brings to light the old decentralisation argument. Kumasi has ten (10) constituencies, and they all fall under the KMA. We would want to see a very developed KMA. Somebody from Suame has to come to the central business district to transact business with the KMA. Mr Speaker, my view is that larger constituencies like Suame, Manhyia et cetera, satisfy the Local Government Act criteria for setting up Municipal Assemblies within Kumasi. For example, Accra has Ledzokuku Krowor Municipal Assembly (LEKMA), La Nkwantanang- Madina Municipal Assembly and La Dadekotopon Municipal Assembly, which were carved out of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA). These are some of the things I believe the new Minister for Local Government and Rural Development should take on board. This is because proper decentralisation will, to a large extent, solve some of the challenges my Hon Colleague raised. It is very important that we look at some of these issues. Mr Speaker, night life in Kumasi is dead and gone. We knew of dim light, podium and what have you. But now, Adum has become a place for squatters at night. I believe the security situation in and around Adum ought to be looked at. Mr Speaker, I must commend the Hon Member who made the Statement and ask that some of these issues that have been raised should be taken up by the new KMA boss.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, let me also commend the Hon Member for making a Statement of fact in respect of the massive congestion at Subin and what ought to be done. Mr Speaker, the Statement could not be timelier than the time that it has been made, when we have ushered in a new Regional Minister and the Chief Executive of the Metropolitan Assembly. Mr Speaker, Kumasi is the centre in terms of transportation. Per the road network in this country, it is the emporium receiving the major arterial road in the country and then fanning them out to the various regions in the country. Mr Speaker, unfortunately, the centre of Kumasi, which is supposed to be the receptacle, has now ceased to perform that function because of conflicting development plans for Kumasi. Kejetia has now been taken over by stores; the people have nowhere to park their vehicles. Those operating in the central business district of Adum do not have anywhere to park their private vehicles, let alone commercial vehicles coming from all corners of the country. We need to look at the development plan of Kumasi again. This is because, truth must be told, the managers of the Metropolis are interested in putting up stores, and then benefitting directly from them. Now, in Kejetia, people are happy about the construction of a new market. Where are the terminals for vehicles? So, there is eternal congestion. Unless, we look at this again -- Mr Speaker, I thought at the outset that, perhaps, we would have the stores beneath the parking lot or create the parking lot beneath and have the stores on top of the parking lot. Unfortunately, somebody dreamt and decided to occupy the entire space with market stores. The wisdom in that, I cannot comprehend. Mr Speaker, in the meantime, we are not developing the satellite markets in Kumasi. Asafo Market is a rotten place. Bantama Market is now spilling to the Bantama Highway. Today, at Suame, when you turn to the roundabout entering Suame Township, it has been taken over by marketers. Mr Speaker, the plan was to have a first ring road around Kumasi. It was to begin from Anloga Junction and it was to have an interchange. Another interchange is at the Airport Roundabout, which continues to Suame Roundabout and then it goes to Sofo Line. Mr Speaker, that interchange was started, but it is still not completed fully, even though it is about 90 per cent completed. The road then goes to Santase Roundabout. That interchange has also not been developed. It links up to Georgia Roundabout, but that interchange has not
Thank you very much, Hon Majority Leader. Hon Members, the next Statement stands in the name of the Hon Joycelyn Tetteh, Member for North Dayi; it is on the need to expand access to mobile telephony.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member is on an official assignment outside the country, so, we could take it later.
Hon Deputy Minority Leader, is it possible to arrange the Statement to be presented at the next but one Sitting if possible? While you arrange that, we have another Statement from the Hon Annoh-Dompreh, which is on time to reform and decentralise the operations of the Scholarships Secretariat in Ghana. This relates to the Scholarships Secre- tariat. Yes, Hon Annoh- Dompreh? Time to reform and decentralise operations of the Scholarships Secretariat
Mr Speaker, preliminary checks and investigations conducted into the operations of the Scholarships Secretariat revealed that, apart from bursaries that are given to Senior High Schools, all other applications and operations are centralised at the national capital. Besides, there does not appear to be any clearly laid down laws governing the operations of such an important agency of the State, This does not engender transparency and accountability, and as such, the situation must be reviewed. Mr Speaker, the Scholarships Secretariat was established in January 1960, as an extra ministerial body under the Office of the President. Its main object was to administer and exercise central control over the scholarship awards for manpower development, so as to ensure effective manpower support for the various national development programmes. The Secretariat now has a mission to utilise Government funds, GETFund and donor support for the provision of scholarships to brilliant but needy students and qualified workers at a minimum access cost for human resource development for the purpose of national growth and development.
Thesis grant for postgraduate students Bursary grant for postgraduate students Long course allowance for medical students Disability allowance for physically challenged students; and Hardship allowance for needy students. Mr Speaker, in all the cases of awarding the scholarship, centralisation seems to be restricting access to the facility. For instance, the scholarship award is intended to provide financial support to brilliant but needy students, whose parents or guardians are financially handicapped. Manifestly, many financially handicapped parents reside in remote areas of our country with their brilliant but needy children. Many of such people have never been to the nation's capital, and as such, do not know of the existence of the scholarship facility, or even if they do, they are unfamiliar with the process of procuring the application forms. Some simply do not have the money to travel to Accra for the forms. That means that by its location alone, we have failed to make the Agency accessible to the very people who are supposed to benefit from it. Additionally, they are put at a disadvantage of competing with other needy students who are closer to Accra or know some influential people who can follow up on the application forms for them.
1. A bill be introduced immediately to govern the operations and activities of the Scholarships Secretariat 2. As part of plans to amend the current Local Governance Act, measures be put in place to include clauses that will ensure the introduction of a decen- tralised system in the adminis- tration of scholarships, in order to enhance easy access by citizens in all other regions, municipalities and districts across the country. Mr Speaker, it is my fervent hope that this matter would elicit positive contributions which would lead to the restructuring of the Scholarships Secretariat to the benefit of all deserving Ghanaians, irrespective of their ethnic or regional background or religious, political creed or other beliefs. Mr Speaker, respectfully, I submit.
Mr Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the Statement ably made by the Hon Member for Nsawam- Adoagyiri. Mr Speaker, the issue of the Scholarships Secretariat and the fact that it is centred in Accra denies the people who are in the villages access to it. Mr Speaker, some kind of telepathy to this matter -- Just this morning, I received a request for educational support from a constituent. This young man read science and made eight straight ‘A's. It was reported in the news that he came as the top candidate in the West African Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE). He applied to the University of Ghana to read medicine after he had passed all the science courses. Surprisingly, he was not accepted, even though he came out as the top candidate at the West African level. I believe it is a confirmation of the cronyism matter that the Hon Member who made the Statement alluded to. That is why a poor boy from Gomoa Mankoadze, having succeeded in coming up as the top candidate in the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) examination, failed to secure a place in the medical school. They are here asking for educational support, because they do not even know about the existence of the Scholarships Secretariat. Mr Speaker, I believe that the existence of the Scholarships Secretariat must be made known, and they must have offices in the various districts so that needy but very brilliant students, who ordinarily may not get the chance to move up the academic ladder, can have access and also get to the height that their potentials would get them to. Mr Speaker, in supporting my Hon Friend in this Statement, I also make a call, that we introduce a Bill to set the Scholarships Secretariat up as a body devoid of all partisan considerations, so that the real needy and poor but brilliant students can have access and get to their potential.
Order! Hon Members, what is going on there? Hon Member, just a moment. Hon Members, is there any cause for extra hilarity? Let us be very conscious of how we conduct business. Hon Pelpuo, you may please continue.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. So, it is really cumbersome to have a Minister of State at the Presidency in charge of this important facility, to have a secretariat which is only in Accra, to have people wanting to clear issues with the Scholarships Secretariat beyond the national coordinator, having to go to the Presidency. Imagine a poor boy coming all the way from any place in the North to Accra. In the first place, it is a strange place to him, and secondly, he must now go to an Hon Minister at the Presidency where there are military and policemen guarding the place. Mr Speaker, it is important that we take this Statement serious and find out how we could help the Scholarships Secretariat to decentralise, so that people could, at least, go to their regions to have interviews done and to have their fate determined; whether they could gain scholarships or not. Mr Speaker, I believe very strongly that if this matter is taken seriously, we could have Regional Coordinating Councils supporting the Scholarships Secretariat, to do some of the things that they are supposed to do here. If they do not have enough resources to set up offices there, we could have the Coordinating Councils to set up offices and conduct interviews on behalf of the Scholarships Secretariat, with just a member travelling from Accra to these places to help select qualified candidates. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I would want to support the Statement and agree with the Hon Member who made the Statement that it is important we review the establishment of the Scholarships Secretariat, and see how we could ensure a decentralised system of awarding scholarships. Thank you Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, I beg to associate myself with the Statement ably made by my Hon Colleague, Hon Annoh- Dompreh. It is a very timely intervention, and I am speaking on behalf of the cocoa farmers. In Agona West Constituency, farmers who have needy but brilliant children, cannot access the COCOBOD Scholarship or whatever scholarhip that their children have to go to school with. My Hon Colleague said that he had the best science student in the Constituency. In Agona West, I also have the best business student in Nyakrom Senior High Technical School, and yet, last academic year, he could not access any scholarship and he is still at home. So, I agree with the Hon Member who made the Statement that it should be decentralised, so that, at least, they would know where to access the scholarship. We know that most students who are brilliant and yet their parents are able to pay school fees, access scholarships while the brilliant but needy students, who are from very poor backgrounds have no idea how to access these scholarships. So, yes, they get good results and then, they stay at home. I will agree with my Hon Colleague that it is a very good and timely intervention, and that we should make a law that would let this institution be decentralised, so that everybody would have access and know where to go when they have good results, so that we would not have them languishing in the villages without going to school. I thank the Hon Member for the Statement and I thank you for this opportunity.
Thank you very much, Hon Member.
I am most grateful, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Statement which has been ably made by the Hon Annoh-Dompreh. I want to commend him for making this Statement, which is a well-researched Statement and has brought up the issue of the need to decentralise the Scholarships Secretariat and to do away with political patronage.
Mr Speaker, having worked at the Ministry of Education before, I can very much associate with the Statement that has been made. The Scholarships Secretariat is one of the agencies under the Office of the President. It is not regulated by the Ministry of Education, except that when it comes to constituting the interview panel to assess the scholarship applicants, a Director at the Ministry of Education would be invited to sit in the interview of the applicants. The point that has been made about decentralising is a good point. Any agenda that moves towards transparency, openness and equity which would allow everybody to come on board and be able to have a fair access to opportunities, especially for the youth of our country, ought to be encouraged. Mr Speaker, the only point of departure that I will proceed on is that, we could achieve this decentralisation by using technology. We do not need to use physical structures; we do not need to establish Regional Scholarships Secre- tariats or District Scholarships Secre- tariats. I think what we should encourage the Scholarships Secretariat to do, is to use modern technology. They should have a very interactive website. Every scholarship available in this country should be made available on the website. It should be open, there should be clear guidelines for applicants, the entry requirements should be spelt out, the dates for examinations or interviews should be put out and then we could bring on board, the West African Examination Council (WAEC) to probably assist. This is because WAEC has centres in every district in our country. So, using the WAEC structures, we can then allow our young ones, wherever they are in the country, to write the entrance examinations and to go through the initial screening so that when a date is fixed for picking up their— even the admission letters could be printed out from the website that would be used. So, the only meeting point might be when it is time to travel, they meet a Scholarship Officer, who would then take them through some orientation; what to expect, and then they fly out of the country. So, we can use technology and that would be cheaper, that would be more cost effective and it can, as it were, also do away with the human influence and interface. This is because when you open regional and district offices, we are still going to have them manned by human beings, probably appointees, or even if they are not political appointees, and they are civil servants or public servants, it is human nature to want to give favours to maybe, a relative, a church member, maybe, somebody from your hometown or village and all of that. But if we use technology and there is a website where every young person who has completed secondary school or has finished first degree and wants to pursue further studies, can access that website which is open and transparent to all, I think that it would help. Mr Speaker, I would also want to add, that apart from the Scholarships Secretariat, the GETFund Headquarters also offers scholarships. Before I left the Ministry of Education, the GETFund was offering more scholarships than the Scholarships Secretariat and most people do not know that. If one looks at the portfolios, one would notice that the allocation to the GETFund for scholarships is more than what the Scholarships Secretariat offers. These days, the Scholarships Secretariat is only left with bilateral scholarships, scholarships from countries which are offering these opportunities to the Government and people of Ghana. The point that I think we should make as a House is to encourage more institutions to offer scholarships. Apart from the Scholarships Secretariat and the GETFund which are clearly overburdened and overstretched -- If we talk to them, every year, they are only able to approve less than 10 per cent of qualified scholarship applicants who come before them. So, we should encourage more institutions such as District Assemblies, Regional Coordinating Councils (RCCs) and corporate Ghana. We should encourage many more people to come on board and offer scholarships to young Ghanaians who are brilliant and needy. That is also a sure way of achieving equity, fairness and openness, so that many more people could be given the opportunity. Even in our academic institutions, you would see a student who has applied to the University of Ghana from a village that probably, for the past 10 years, is the only one who has qualified to gain admission to the University of Ghana. Why should that student be treated like every other student? Why should he or she be treated like the student from Alsyd Academy, Association International School, Akosombo International School or Ghana International School? Why should it be the same? Can our institutions not have a quota reserved for successful candidates who have come from very challenging backgrounds, and have been able to make the qualifying mark? There can even be affirmative action, so that they can enter the institution and there should be a special dispensation in terms of fees. So, this issue of scholarships would require a concerted effort from all of us. Even Members of Parliament (MPs) can have a part of our Common Fund focus on scholarships. It should be an all- hands-on-deck approach. Let us use technology as I have said, because that would be the surest way of removing the human factor, preferences and discretions. These, at the end of the day, would undermine even a decendtra- lised scholarship regime. Once we use technology and encourage many more academic institutions, corporate Ghana, MPs, churches, the Islamic clergy and other foundations -- everybody should come on board and it should be very open and transparent. There should be enough education that would penetrate all parts of Ghana, which would allow for Ghanaians living everywhere to know the opportunities available and access them. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I commend and congratulate the Hon Member who made the Statement.
Mr Speaker, I would add my voice to commend the Hon Member who made the Statement for drawing our
Thank you very much, Hon Member. Leadership, do you want to make any comments at this stage?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would like to make a few comments. The Hon Member who made the Statement, proposed that a Bill be introduced immediately to govern the operations and activities of the Scholarships Secretariat. Mr Speaker, in view that other institutions are also awarding scholarships, I think it would be proper that a Bill is introduced to regularise and make sure that all those institutions which are giving scholarships are put under one administrative body. The Hon Member who made the Statement also proposed that as part of plans to amend the current Local Governance Act, plans be put in place to include clauses that would ensure the introduction of a decentralised system in the administration of scholarships, in order to enhance easy access. The main reason for this proposal is that the applicants or citizens who want this facility, could easily have access to this facility at the regional, municipal or district levels. This means that the cost of access in terms of what currently goes on, where applicants have to travel from their various regions and districts to Accra, would be decentralised. If we do that, it means that we are rather decentralising the cost to Government. So, we should think about the financial impact on our Budget. If we have a decentralised system, where we are going to have personnel to man those bodies at the district level, it would be a cost to Government. What should be the choice? Do we centralise cost to Government to bear or maintain a system where individual applicants also bear a little cost in its administration? That is the only angle that I would want to look at. Even if we would want to do that -- I agree with what the Hon Member for North Tongu said, that with technology, the headquarters could still be in Accra and applicants could have access to these facilities in the various regions and districts, and do not necessarily have to travel to Accra. If we would want to decentralise, physical decentralisation would bring cost to the Government, but if we can do this decentralised administration through technology, it would help us. Mr Speaker, I thank you very much.
Any comments from the Majority Leadership?
Mr Speaker, I would want to give a brief comment and thank the Hon Member who made the Statement and also to congratulate him for bringing our attention to this very important subject matter. Mr Speaker, I believe no individual should be deprived of access to education because of the poverty level. I am sure that is the rationale behind the offering of scholarships to brilliant but needy students. Mr Speaker, unfortunately, because of the human factor, people who deserve to have access to these scholarships --
Hon Member, it could be human factor and political interference. [Laughter.]
Mr Speaker, I thank you for adding the political aspect. But more importantly is the human factor. People who actually need this particular facility do not get the opportunity to utilise it. That is why I would want to agree with the Hon Members who proposed that, inasmuch as we would want to decentralise this particular Secretariat, it should be done with technology, so that individuals could access the scholarship through the internet. Mr Speaker, if such an approach is encouraged, the human factor would minimise and people who actually deserve it would be given the opportunity.
The Statement is referred to the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, to devise a legal regime to ensure sanctity in the system, including a possible passage of a law in that connection. Hon Dr Kwabena Donkor has a Statement on the perennial highway robberies on the Kumasi-Yeji Road and their attendant issues. Perennial highway robberies on the Kumasi-Yeji Road
I thank you, Mr Speaker, for admitting this Statement. I appreciate the excellent use of discretion on a matter of great concern to hundreds of thousands of Ghanaians. Mr Speaker, the Kumasi - Yeji Road had suffered occasional highway armed robberies in the past. The people had lamented, but largely lived with the situation, while they occasionally demonstrated to draw the attention of the Ghanaian State. The Yeji branches of the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) have been spearheading these demonstrations. The last six months have, however, seen an intensification of the armed robberies on the highway beyond anything that had ever been seen. In the last two months, passengers and motorists have been killed, maimed and rendered paupers through this diabolical activity. Virtually, no week passes by without an attack on innocent travellers by these organised armed robbers. The districts of Pru, Sene East and West, Atebubu -Amantin and Ejura-Sekye Dumasi, populated by about half a million citizens of this great nation, have been taken hostage by these marauding gangs of armed highway robbers. These districts, and the sister districts of Krachi West, Krachi East, Krachi Nchumuru, Salaga North and South and Kpandai, all use the central corridor to reach Kumasi and its environs. This corridor constitutes a major grain and tuber food basket for the country. Mr Speaker, the political impact of such wanton insecurity goes beyond the usual NDC/NPP banter. It goes to the very essence of the State. The nation State, as Brimelow argues, is the political expression of the interlacing of ethnicity and culture (Brimelow, Peter 1993: “Does the Nation State Exist?” Social Contract Journal Vol.3 no. 4). A State exists among other key reasons, to protect the security of persons within its jurisdiction. For relatively young nation states, the ability to perform this role gives it legitimacy with the citizenry and underscores its relevance. The confidence of our people to go about their normal trading and farming activities in our part of the country has waned considerably, with citizens wondering whether the Ghana Govern- ment cares about them. Mr Speaker, my fear is that if this insecurity is not brought under control, the residents affected may become apathetic to their responsibilities as citizens, and may cite the failure of the Government to fulfil its part of the social contract. Mr Speaker, the psychological trauma that our citizens are subjected to as a result of armed highway robbery is intense and damaging to the physical and mental well- being of our people. Some passengers and drivers have lost their lives through these nation wrecking activities. Husbands have become widowers, wives have become widows and children have become orphans. Others have been maimed, while lucky escapees carry psychological scars. The economic toll on our constituents has been catastrophic. Traders have lost their working capital and farmers and fishermen have lost the proceeds of their labour to these highway robbers. A number of traders have become indebted to banks through such robberies, and in the process, degraded their ability to fend for their homes. Mr Speaker, while I acknowledge the sporadic attempt by the Ghana Police Service to combat this siege on our collective freedom to travel without hindrance in the land of our birth, I wish to draw the attention of the high command of the Service to the glaring inability of the Service as the first line of defence to bring this situation under control. Police personnel in the affected areas are under resourced, both in men and materials. The Pru District Command, for example, which is responsible for the protection of over a hundred thousand people, has less than a dozen working rifles. It is not uncommon to see officers on anti-highway robbery patrol sharing a rifle. Out of a pick-up vehicle full of personnel, only two, or at best, three officers would be armed. And yet they are dispatched to confront criminals with access to sophiscated rifles and other weapons. The police in the affected areas also suffer from logistical inadequacies, including vehicles and accessories. While the District Assemblies and Members of Parliament have come in to support the Police with fuel and the construction of Observation Posts (OPs) in the affected areas, it has become critical for the Police Administration to raise the profile of their measures to counter these robberies. Enhanced visibility is required. Key to eradicating this menace from our part of the country is intelligence. These gangsters are believed to be local. All internal security agencies, including the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), must assist and collaborate with the police in gathering intelligence. I believe it is not beyond the capability of our security and intelligence agencies to down grade; if not neutralise this threat to our very existence. Mr Speaker, I call on the Ministries of the Interior and National Security, to provide the resources for the Ghana Police Service to bring this dark period of our national life to an end. The chiefs and
people of the affected districts have suffered enough from the callousness of these criminal behaviours. The Ghanaian State must rise up to its responsibility of providing a safe and secured environment for the good people of Pru, Sene, Atebubu-Amantin, Salaga, Krachi and Kpandai. I thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to raise this in this august House.
Mr Speaker, I beg to comment on the Statement ably made by the Hon Member for Pru, and to also say that the menace stretches from Kumasi to Yeji, and my constituency forms part of the problem. Mr Speaker, the situation is so worrisome. This is because, normally, at this time of the year, during the dry season, Fulani nomads bring their cattle to these areas to graze. They come along with sophisticated weapons, which they sometimes use to commit these hideous crimes. It is observed that anytime any group of armed robbers are accosted, one would find out that one or two of them are of the Fulani descent. It is so worrisome that a number of lives were lost in my constituency last year due to armed robbery. Mr Speaker, in January last year, one police constable by name Alexander Kyeremeh was killed by armed robbers. Another driver was also killed on the Aframso-Sekyedumase Road while carrying market women to the market. This year, on the same Aframso- Sekyedumase Road, another driver was murdered by these armed robbers. Another police officer, Inspector Ofori Asiedu, was also shot in the chest on the Atebubu road. Mr Speaker, just last month, another fire officer was also shot by these armed robbers. Mr Speaker, the impact of this is that, it is killing the local economies of the districts along that stretch. This is because most of the people are farmers, and when they farm, it is traders from Accra who come to buy their produce. As a result of the incessant attacks on the traders, they feel reluctant to come to buy. It is creating a problem for both the citizenry and the District Assemblies of the respective districts where these things occur. Mr Speaker, I would like to commend the Police Administration because they have responded to the recent attacks, by bringing in additional men to patrol the roads. But I believe this is not sufficient. There should be a more sustainable way of tackling this issue. For that matter, I am calling on the police administration and the Hon Minister for the Interior, as well as the National Security, just as my Hon Colleague added, to at least find a more sustainable way of dealing with this issue, so that the carnage due to armed robbery would stop on our roads. Mr Speaker, this is a worrisome situation, which needs to be tackled with all the seriousness that it deserves.
Mr Speaker, I thank you very much. I would like to take this opportunity to contribute to the Statement. It would not have come at any other time than now, considering the seriousness of the armed robbery situation in Ghana. Mr Speaker, I believe it is about time a task force is set up to patrol these particular hot spots, so as to make it possible for any individual to conduct his or her business, irrespective of any time that he or she wants to transact the business. Mr Speaker, it is sad to know that armed robbers attacked traders in my constituency along Karaga road recently, and shot and killed one Hajia Bintu. Up to now, nobody has been found guilty yet. I also task the Ghana Police Service to set up investigatory units, so as to ensure that these culprits are always dealt with. Mr Speaker, this menace also retards the economic progress of this country, and therefore, the need for the transport unions to always have security men positioned in their vehicles, as they travel long distances, particularly during midnights. The saddest thing is that the armed robbers have adopted the modern technology, particulary with the use of mobile phones. They sometimes get their members to board the vehicles, communicate and give them details of the movement of these particular traders. All these must be checked by the security task force. Mr Speaker, I would like to end here, and thank the maker of the Statement for this very important Statement.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to add my voice to the maker of this Statement. Mr Speaker, I believe the incidence of armed robbery for sometime now, is actually re-echoing itself in this country. Some time back, we had a lot of these armed robbery incidents. Along the line, the situation subsided, but they have reorganised themselves recently, and have moved into full gear terrorising motorists and residents. Mr Speaker, in my constituency, on 3rd March, 2017, armed robbers numbering four attacked a household in a community known as Chagbuni, shot at them and caused a lot of havoc. In fact, one woman, who was shot, had her leg amputated as a result of that incident. The other woman, who was also injured, is still at the Tamale Teaching Hospital and responding to treatment. Mr Speaker, again, on the 9th of March, 2017, another armed robbery attack on the Tamale-Salaga Road occurred, between Kpalbusi and Jiganturu. These armed robbers robbed a lot of vehicles. A vehicle which was travelling from Tamale to Salaga, which was owned by a contractor who works with Engineers and Planners Company Limited, was shot at and one Mr William Boamah was killed in that incident. What this means is that we need the security agencies to rise up to the occasion, and continue to have police patrol teams along our highways to be able to curb these incidents. Mr Speaker, it is worth mentioning that in my Constituency, Salaga North, there is no police presence at all. There is nowhere one can find a police stationed or resident in the constituency. We have
Thank you, Hon Member. Hon Members, this is a matter that should be properly visited. Mr Vincent S. Odotei — rose --
Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, thank you for this opportunity. Mr Speaker, I am on my feet to support the Hon Member who made the Statement, and I must say that this menace of armed robbery in that part of the country is an issue which must be taken very seriously. Mr Speaker, when we look at the negative impacts of this menace, from Kumasi to Yeji, on all aspects of our national lives, this really tells that this needs a lot of attention, and it is something we must address. Mr Speaker, most of these things, as have been highlighted by most of my Hon Colleagues, affect traders. These traders go out to buy food from that part of the country and bring it to the south. The impact of these attacks during their travels affect their livelihood and the prices of the goods that they bring to the south, as most of these traders are women. It creates some form of shortage, and it even affect tourism. It gives a negative impact of the nation on that part of the country. Mr Speaker, we can even stretch it to the point where, as my Hon Colleagues have said, lives are lost. It affects the economic empowerment of women, and it is something that we need to give a very good attention to, not to mention the eastern part on food supplies. Mr Speaker, with all these negative impacts on our lives, one may ask that since this is not the first time -- this issue has been with us for a very long time -- why is it persisting? Why have we not given special attention to arrest the situation? Why is it that despite all the police barriers on these roads, this menace still persists? Why are these roads poorly lit? There are no lights on these streets. Some of my Hon Colleagues have mentioned the issue of Fulani herdsmen which is still with us. Some of them have issues of how these things go on with impunity. Mr Speaker, as a country, we need to take this thing very seriously. How can we do that? We need a system of preventive approach. We also need an approach that would ensure, as one of my Hon Colleagues said, that we get a special task force which would patrol these roads so that it serves as a deterrent to those who plan and carry out such things. Mr Speaker, one of my Hon Colleagues spoke about a more sophisticated approach which is for our taking. We need surveillance; if they join the public transport and communicate to their counterparts with mobile phones, is there any case that in the evenings, there are marshals on some of these public transports? These are things that we need to address, to ensure that ordinary citizens, who want to live their lives and engage in economic activities, could go and buy foodstuffs from that part of the country and bring them to the southern part, so that they can carry on with their lives, and all these negative impacts would be addressed. Mr Speaker, I think the Ghana Police Service must take this issue up very seriously, so that we could have some attention on that road. As I said, there must be surveillance, so that people will begin to realise that they cannot take the law into their own hands, and people will feel free and protected. Mr Speaker, I would want to thank you for the opportunity, and to also thank the Hon Member who made the Statement on this issue.
Leadership, contributions if any? Mr Agalga — rose -- Mr Avedzi — nods --
Hon Member, your Leader allows you, so, please proceed.
Mr Speaker, I would like to join my Hon Colleagues in thanking the Hon Member for Pru East for making that important Statement. Mr Speaker, in recent times, it appears that armed robbery is on the ascendancy once more. If armed robbery is on the ascendancy, then the Hon Member who
Hon Member, do you rise on a point of order?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Henry Quartey has been vetted awaiting approval of this House. He has not been approved yet -- [Interruption.]
Hon Member on the floor, please, continue.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. The other point I would wish to underscore is the fact that, police to population ratio leaves much to be desired. At the time we left office, police to population ratio had improved from one police officer to 1000 population to one police officer to 700 population. Mr Speaker, that was a marked improvement, but that still falls short of the minimum standard approved by the United Nations (UN) benchmark for police to population ratios. So, Mr Speaker, once again --
Order, Hon Members.
Mr Speaker, once again, I wish to make a passionate appeal to H.E. President Akufo-Addo, to make it his priority to ensure that the youth are recruited into the Police Service, so that we can reach the UN minimum standard. When that is attained, I have no doubt in my mind that incidents of crime would be reduced like it happened in 2014, when the figure came down to 15 per cent in relation to the major crimes in this country. Mr Speaker, having said that, I cannot resume my seat without adding that the Police Service needs to roll out training courses for the men and women in the Service, so that from time to time, just like their counterparts in the military, they are taken to the various training centres and refreshed. That way, they would always be combat ready, and would be in the position to respond effectively to incidents of crime. Mr Speaker, something happened recently in Sandema.
Hon Member, you should conclude.
Yes, Mr Speaker, I am concluding. It was a market day in Sandema --
Conclusions are made not with further examples, but with a summary. So, summarise.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much --
Mr Speaker, I crave your indulgence for just one minute.
Hon Member, please summarise.
Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I would add my voice in calling for the police to beef up security in the Builsa North and South Districts, which have also witnessed incidents of armed robbery in recent times. Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity.
Thank you very much, Hon Member.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I rise to comment on the Statement ably read by my Hon Colleague. Let me first start by thanking the President, H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo for nominating the Hon Minister for the Interior who is very hardworking, efficient and reliable. Mr Speaker, once again, let me repeat -- as of yesterday, I can tell you, with the permission of my Hon Minister that the crime rate has reduced by 26 per cent. Talking about support and logistics to the Ghana Police Service, Mr Speaker, it is on record, that in the 2015-2016 Budget Statement, moneys that were allocated to the Ministry of Interior were not adequate at all to take care of the Ghana Police Service. As a matter of fact, the Hon Minister for the Interior had to go to the Ministry of Finance for an additional GH¢500 million. Mr Speaker, by the grace of God, in President Akufo-Addo's Government, the budget has rather been increased. Again, let me put on record that Formed Police Unit, as was indicated by my Hon Colleague on the other side, did not arise yesterday; but it used to be called Armoured Car Squadron (ACS). For the records, ACS, was formed during the regime of the former President, His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor. Mr Speaker, in terms of the ratio, he said that in their term of office, it was one police officer to 700 citizens; but the United Nation's requirement says that it should be one police officer to 500 citizens. So, how did they get to 700 citizens? Mr Speaker, in President Nana Akufo- Addo's State of the Nation Address, he indicated in this House, that his Government would do its best to ensure that the UN ratio of one police officer to 500 citizens is met. Mr Speaker, I know that my Hon Minister, who is very hardworking, would do his best to ensure that sooner or later, the NPP Government, led by His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, would meet the one to 500 requirement of the UN. Mr Speaker, in terms of recruitment, we would attest to the fact that we have stated in this year's Budget Statement, that the Ministry of the Interior would recruit between 4000 and 8000 people, and that would be done without any discrimination. So, my Hon Friend on the other side of the isle could be rest assured that, very soon, the Ghana Police Service would be much better than we inherited. Going forward, I would want to say that some arrests have been made on the Fulani issue. Mr Speaker, it is a security matter, so I cannot disclose the details. But I have been made aware from briefings from the Hon Minister that, some arrests have been made, and it would lead to other arrests. Mr Speaker, I would want to assure the House that the Ministry of Interior has been charged with the responsibility of maintaining and enforcing the internal laws of this country. The Ghana Police Service has the responsibility and duty to protect lives and property, and by the grace of God, they shall do so. Mr Speaker, thank you.
The Clerk to Parliament is to bring this Statement to the attention of the Hon Minister for the Interior, who is hereby invited to take up the matter and allied issues, and make a Statement in this Honourable House; assuring the security implications of the Statement. The Hon Minister is to particularly consider the matter of Salaga North Constituency Police Post, and assure the House in the process. Hon Members, this brings us to the end of Statements and I would like to know the state of other possible Business, if any. If not, then the relevant Committees may go and get us ready for tomorrow.
Mr Speaker, as you do know, I exited and I have just re-entered. My attention has been drawn to the fact that the Hon Member who was early on slated to make a Statement on mobile telephony is in the Chamber now. Mr Speaker, I do not know whether you would indulge the Hon Member to make that Statement.
Having got some balance, I am inclined towards having the Hon Member to come and make a Statement in due course. So, may we have an indication -- otherwise we have finished with the Statements, and we could get other Papers ready for tomorrow.
Mr Speaker, I am told that the Hon Ranking Member is still working on the other document from the Appointments Committee; which he thought could have been laid today as well. Unfortunately, I am told that the Hon Ranking Member has not finished with it. We are also still in the process of having the discussion with the Hon Minister for Finance on the loan issue. Mr Speaker, in fact, he is supposed to be here in the next five minutes. Mr Speaker, that being the case, and also the fact that we are not able to conclude on the Formula in respect of the District Assemblies' Common Fund (DACF), National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) and the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund), we may take an adjournment. Mr Speaker, I beg to move, that this House adjourns until tomorrow at 10.00 o'clock in the forenoon.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion for the House to adjourn Sitting for today. Question put and Motion agreed to.
The House was accordingly adjourned at 12.22 p.m. till Thursday, 6th April, 2017, at 10.00 a.m.