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. Hon Members, correction of Votes and Proceedings dated Wednesday, 5th July, 2017. Pages 1, 2, 3… 11
Mr Speaker, I was here on Tuesday. My name is Hon Kwame Asafu-Adjei, Member of Parliament for Nsuta-Kwamang Beposo. Unfortunately, my name did not appear in the Votes and Proceedings.
Thank you, Hon Member. Any other corrections? Hon Members, the Votes and Pro- ceedings of Wednesday, 5th July, 2017 as corrected are hereby adopted as the true record of proceedings. Hon Members, item numbered 3 on the Order Paper — Urgent Questions. Is the Hon Minister for Health in the House?
Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Majority Leader has made an application for you to stand down the Question posed to the Hon Minister for Health and move to the Questions posed to the Hon Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources; labouring to explain why the Hon Minister for Health is still not available to respond to this House. Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Health is a known Hon Member of this House.
Hon Minority Leader, I am sorry to interrupt. The application relates to standing this down for the time being. So far as I am concerned, business can continue with the Hon Minister just like we all do in court. So, we stand down this particular item. If by the time we are to end Question time, the Hon Minister is not here, your comments would be most welcome. Shall we at this point call the Hon Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources to answer Question numbered 42 on the Order Paper which stands in the name of the Hon Member for Ho West? Hon Minister, if you would please take the appropriate chair and the Hon Member for Ho West may please put his Question.
ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
MINISTRY OF SANITATION AND
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, the Kpeve Water Supply System which takes its source from the Volta Lake was built in 1993 with an installed capacity of four million gallons per day (MGD) and supplies potable water to Ho, Peki and surrounding communities. Mr Speaker, Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) is aware of the current limited installed production capacity of the Kpeve-Ho Water Supply System against the growing demand for water in the area. It is, therefore, envisioned in the company's strategic plan to expand the water system to increase its production capacity to meet the 2025 projected water demand of 6.6 MGD for Ho, Kpeve, Peki, including the connection to Awudome- Tsito and surrounding communities. Mr. Speaker, the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources, together with the Ministry of Finance are evaluating various funding proposals to ensure speedy implementation of the project once funds are secured and the necessary approvals obtained.
Mr Speaker, I would like to use this opportunity to thank the Hon Minister for the fact that, funding proposals are underway and that Tsito would be connected to meet the 2025 capacity. Mr Speaker, between now and the year 2025, when the capacity of 6.6 MGD would be installed, I would want to know whether the Hon Minister has any immediate plans for Awudome-Tsito and its environs?
Mr Speaker, indeed, we have plans in the short-term as well as the medium-term. It is our intention to utillise the water from Hove River and also mechanise a borehole to increase the supply of water to the area, to the level of about 270 cubic metres per day to serve the following communities: Tsito, Abutiaklu, Sokode, Havekope and its environs. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, could the Hon Minister give me his short-term measures and tell us when exactly it would be done? This is because we have two senior high schools. Currently, the population of Tsito is close to 12,000 people. There is no water in the town and I would want the Hon Minister to tell me and also for my community to understand -- he said, he has short-term measures like drilling boreholes and using the Have Water System. I would want to know when exactly. Is it by the close of this year? When will the boreholes be drilled and when are we getting water? This is because the students are suffering.
Mr Speaker, siting for the drilling of the borehole has been undertaken. Contracts are being reviewed to award the drilling company the contract to drill the borehole and to acquire the pumping machines to mechanise it.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. By the end of August, 2017, the people of Tsito would be happy and they would send him a congratulatory letter. Thank you, Mr Speaker. I have no further questions.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Water, they say, is life. From the reasons provided by the Hon Minister, I would want to quote the first line of the last paragraph: “Mr Speaker, the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources, together with the Ministry of Finance are evaluating various funding proposals…” Mr Speaker, when did they start that process and when is it ending for the people of the district to get water?
Mr Speaker, the process started towards the last quarter of last year and due to the Election campaigns, many things stalled, so, we could not conclude the negotiations. Now, we have resurrected the process and it would not be long for us to see results. Thank you.
We will move to Question numbered 43 on the Order Paper -- Which also stands in the name of Hon Emmanuel Bedzrah. Completion of Spanish Debt Swap Water Project Mr Emmanuel Kwasi Bedzrah asked the Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources when the Spanish Debt Swap Water Project for some communities in the Ho West, Ho Central, Adaklu and Agortime-Ziope Districts would be completed.
Mr. Speaker, the Ghana- Spanish Debt Swap Project is a debt relief project to support the construction of bridges in the Eastern, Northern and Volta Regions as well as the provision and improvement of water in 35 communities in the Volta Region. Mr Speaker, the provision and improvement of water supply to these 35 communities are in the Ho Municipality, Ho West, Adaklu and Agotime-Ziope Districts. Mr. Speaker, currently, due processes are being followed diligently for the successful implementation of the project. Mr. Speaker, it is estimated that, by May 2018, the project would be practically completed to be handed over in November 2018.
Mr Speaker, once again, I would like to thank the Hon Minister for continuing from where the previous Administration left off with this water project. Mr Speaker, this project started in 2011. I would want to find out from the Hon Minister -- he said, “…due processes are being followed…” -- at which stage are we now as of today? I know he has his feasibility study up to procurement stage, et cetera. Which stage are we now?
Mr Speaker, the request for proposals were provided not long ago and the advertisements have been put in the newspapers. We are expecting that by the end of this month, we would receive responses from potential vendors. It should not be long for us to see results. Thank you.
Any further questions?
Thank you, Mr Speaker, no further questions.
We are still expecting the Hon Minister for Health, so, let us stand that down and make the variation. We will go on to Statements to maximise the use of time. Hon Member, do you intend to ask a question?
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. The Hon Minister said requests for proposals are being received. Does he mean the tender process for construction of the project? I ask this because, requests for proposals are different from these processes. Is he talking about bidding by prospective contractors to implement this project?
Mr Speaker, I am sorry, I did not hear your question clearly. Could you kindly repeat it?
Mr Speaker, I would want to find out from the Hon Minister whether he is talking about prospective contractors bidding to construct the water system or request for proposals? This is because request for proposals are different from contractors bidding to carry out the construction of the project. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, as my Hon Colleague already knows, often the procurement process involves developing requests for proposals, terms of references, scope of works and the likes. That is what I mean by request for proposals were prepared, drafts were approved and then it went to tender. So, the tender is the process that involves the advertising that we just started. Thank you.
There being no follow- up question -- Hon Minister, we thank you for coming to Answer our Questions. You are discharged. Hon Members, the item numbered 3 remains stood down. We would move to item numbered 5 on the Order Paper -- Statements. There is a Statement which stands in the name of the Hon Member for Kintampo South on “The need to wear seat-belts to save lives.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to make a Statement on the importance of wearing seat-belts to save lives. Mr Speaker, seat-belts are specially designed to secure and protect occupants of vehicles against any harm during vehicular accidents. Seat-belts, which are also known as safety-belts, ensure the safety of occupants of vehicles.
Mr Speaker, I would like to contribute to the Statement made by the Hon Member on the importance of wearing seat-belts. Mr Speaker, inasmuch as we recognise the value of wearing seat-belts, it seems that the importance is not really filtering out to the general public. In the United Kingdom, for instance, a driver can be f i n e d £500 for not wearing a seat-belt. One can also pay as much for having a child under the age of 14 in a vehicle who is not in the appropriate seat or not wearing a seat-belt. This is based on many years of scientific research into the impact of a collision when people are in the car and what happens as a result. Mr Speaker, I would also like to suggest that the wearing of seat-belts by all passengers in the vehicle is equally important as it is for those sitting in the front seats. This is because when those seated at the back are not wearing seat-belts, in the event of a collision, what happens is the displacement of bodies from the back to the front which has an impact on those seated in the front and that can cause damage to those who were actually wearing the seat-belts. So, the wearing of seat-belts for those seated in the back of the vehicle is as important as it is for those seated in the front. Mr Speaker, I would like to urge the public and the Police as well to enforce the wearing of seat-belts and perhaps, the enforcement of spot fines to those who are not wearing seat-belts to make it more of a disincentive for those who are actually not using seat-belts, particularly on long distance travels. We would find that in the cities as well, we have a lot of these accidents occurring. Mr Speaker, with that, I would like to end my submission. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, I rise to associate myself to this important issue raised concerning seat-belts and safety in general. Mr Speaker, it is strange that seat-belts in most vehicles are used by some other people for making sandals. They cut these seat-belts up and use them for sandals and some other things. In certain commercial vehicles such as taxis, one would also find out that the seat belts are so dirty that when one tries to use them, it leaves a mark on the person's clothing, which is an indication that it is not actively being used or commonly used. Mr Speaker, we further probed why they are not using the seat-belts and we were told that sometimes, it is because somebody had an accident and out of one unfortunate situation, that person might have died or something serious happened and that person was strapped in the seat- belt. So, as a result, to them, seat-belts are nothing to go by. For the worse of cases, people may even reference the fact that this is Ghana and we do not have to use it. But our laws are very clear about this and it is important for us to ensure public safety. This is because when the number of accidents increase in this country, it has cost implications. Mr Speaker, there are people who would believe that this issue is not important, but the fatality has cost implications for us as a country. Besides, the safety of other people has implications for our own safety as well. So, again, it is important that we emphasise this. We are fortunate to have a lot of our children attending schools and I believe that these issues must be raised and emphasised in social studies and civic studies, so that our children would grow up with this culture. Mr Speaker, there are people who discount it because, they believe that they are too old and have done it all the time without seat-belts. But we are beginning to understand, based on research, literature and road safety observations that it is increasingly important for us to use them, so that they would ensure and increase the safety of all passengers and users or vehicles. Mr Speaker, I therefore would want to emphasise again that commercial vehicles by default should have seat belts for all persons. And that if a person is in a commercial vehicle and there are no seat belts provided, that person should step out of that vehicle and in places where there are organised unions such as Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU), Progressive Transport Owners Association (PROTOA) and other groups, it should be reported to the leadership, so that the said vehicle would be taken from the stands as a vehicle ready to load. Furthermore, our Police should also ensure that indeed, passing vehicles which they inspect on regular basis should have functional seat-belts for all pas- sengers.
Thank you very much. Yes, Hon Member?
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, I would also like to associate myself with the Statement made by my Hon Colleague on the other side of the House on the effects of seat-belts. Mr Speaker, I happened to sit in a taxi when another passenger stopped the taxi. The first question he asked the driver was “can I put on my seat-belt?” The taxi driver said, “in fact, my seat-belt is not working”. So, the driver moved on and when we took off, what he murmured was, “look at too-knowing people”. For some taxi drivers, insisting on the fact that one wants to wear seat-belt means one is too-knowing. This is rooted in the kind of culture and orientation which we have as a society. In fact, seat-belts have saved a number of lives. I am an example. I have had two near-fatal accidents, but for the seat-belts, I would not be alive today. We must make the general public know that seat-belts are a part of the vehicle. They are not for fun. They are to be worn. Mr Speaker, thankfully, the cars that are being made these days come with warnings. When one sits in a car, it beeps. Sometimes, it even talks and reminds one to put on his or her seat-belt. We encourage manufacturers of vehicles to continue to do this. Mr Speaker, when the policemen at the various check-points stop vehicles, some do well to check whether one has spare tyres, fire extinguishers and so on. I would urge the policemen at the check-points to insist that drivers of vehicles and passengers alike put on seat belts. If this is done, it would go a long way to save lives and people would benefit from the usage of vehicles. With these few words, I associate myself with the Statement.
Thank you very much, Hon Member. Hon Member, you may contribute.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. The importance of putting on seat-belts when one sits in a vehicle cannot be overemphasised. I remember two years ago, one of my Colleagues, Hon Kwasi Adusei, formerly of Ahafo Ano North Constituency was involved in a near-fatal accident. He did not die anyway. He did not die because he had put on his seat- belt. Mr Speaker, I believe those of us who use private vehicles, we are very much adherent to putting on seat-belt. What about those who join trotro and other passenger vehicles? Sometimes, when I send my car to the workshop for servicing, I do join trotro when I am going home. It is very appalling that, even the seats in these trotros are only hanging. The bolts and nuts that put them together do not work. One sits in a car and finds out that the seat itself shakes. Sometimes, I ask myself, when it gets involved in an accident, what happens? So, it is very important as my Hon Colleague suggested, that as much as possible, all of us should try and enforce and campaign that it is important to put on seat-belts to save lives. Many of the people who lose their lives when there is an accident do so because of the absence of seat-belts. One person hits the vehicle this way and bounces to the other side and so on. The outcome then is death. So, I would urge all of us here and the security services to ensure that every vehicle, especially passenger trucks, are provided with seat-belts to avoid some of these outcomes of accidents. Mr Speaker, it is unfortunate, and I would urge my Hon Colleagues that they should join trotro and other passenger cars sometimes, and they would see this - - Some drivers do not put on their seat- belts. So, please, I believe it would do us a lot of good and save a lot of lives and property when we adhere to the putting on of seat-belts.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to this very important Statement, though briefly. Mr Speaker, our laws are very clear on the use of seat-belts in our vehicles while on the road. But the problem is that the law enforcement agencies have been adamant and lackadaisical in enforcing the law on the use of seat-belts in our vehicles. Mr Speaker, I am sure you would not be surprised that vehicles are imported into this country without seat-belts or other safety accoutrements on the vehicle, yet, they go through validation and registration by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA). How did they do that? Mr Speaker, we see the NRSC officers on our roads and vehicles are driven about without occupants of the vehicles using their seat-belts, yet, they are waved to move on. What are they on the road for and what safety are they ensuring? Mr Speaker, this is a very important Statement. I agree with other Hon Members of the House when they said that new vehicles that are being made have safety measures such that if one does not use his seat-belt, he is prompted. Indeed, the safety measure of some of the vehicles which are being made is that, if one does not put on his or her seat- belt, he cannot even move the vehicle. But until we get there, what do we do with those that are already in the system and do not have the safety-belts? Mr Speaker, the call is apt. It is important that, even as Hon Members of Parliament, when we drive to our constituencies in a hurry to attend meetings, we ensure that we put on our seat-belts. Mr Speaker, I would want to commend the Hon Member who made the Statement for bringing this important matter to the attention of the House. I thank you for the opportunity. Hon Joseph Osei-Owusu -- rose --
Thank you very much, Hon Member. Hon First Deputy Speaker, I will come to you. Hon Yieleh Chireh, I thought you were on your feet. [Interruption.] -- [Laughter.]
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, the Statement that was made is very important. It is important in relation to the lives that are being saved of those who wear seat belts. The other points have been made. But the reason I got up to speak is that, I have been with some Hon Colleagues in this House. When I see them drive out, they would not be wearing their seat-belts. Their reasons are that, this is just a town ride. It cannot just be a town ride. We speed. If we are on a highway in town, we need to have our seat-belts on. Some say the distance is not long. It is not about distance but the impact; the speed with which the other vehicle is moving or our own vehicle is moving. So, I will urge all of us that as soon as we enter our cars, we should make sure our seat-belts are on. If it is not on, we do not move.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to associate myself with the very laudable Statement ably presented by the Hon Member to my left. Mr Speaker, the Legislative Instrument (L.I.) 2180, section 119, which was passed in the year 2012, was to ensure that all vehicles that plied our roads had seat- belts fixed on them.
“A person shall not drive a motor vehicle unless the vehicle is fitted with a seat belt”. Mr Speaker, it would be important to find out from the DVLA why they have not been able to enforce this law despite several workshops that I am aware that, they organised together with the transport operators, so that they could familiarise themselves with this law. When this law was passed, a grace period of two years was given for that education to take place, so that the DVLA would identify some garages across the country that would even supply and install some of these existing public transport vehicles that are without seat- belts. It has been five long years, Mr Speaker, and we still discuss the use of seat-belts even as we are faced with the reality out there that most of our public transport vehicles do not have seat-belts installed on them. Yet, this law is in our law books. I am sure that the DVLA has spent so much money in the training and workshops that they have organised. It was because of the expected protests from the transport owners that a grace period of two years was given, and it has been five years, Mr Speaker. I believe that, as a House, if we actually want our laws to be respected and want results from the Statement that has been made by our able Hon Colleague, we should get answers from the DVLA and the Motor Transport and Traffic Directorate (MTTD) why they have not been able to implement this law despite the resources that have been spent towards its implementation. Mr Speaker, I would once again like to commend the maker of the Statement, and thank you sincerely for the opportunity to contribute to it.
Thank you, Hon Member. Hon First Deputy Speaker?
Mr Speaker, this Statement has been made in different other forms in this House since I have been an Hon Member. The fact that we still bemoan the lack of enforcement of the rules that we have passed in this House, both the substantive Act passed in the year 2004 and the L.I. to back it passed in the year 2012, demonstrates how quick we are to make laws and how sluggish we are to ensure that the laws we make are enforced. Mr Speaker, I see two things. One, the responsibility for ensuring that anybody in the vehicle wears a seat-belt is placed squarely at the shoulder of the driver. In fact, if we look at the law, it is clear. The driver has the duty to ensure that the passenger wears the seat-belt; and if not, it is the driver who is in default and may be prosecuted. That is what the law says. Mr Speaker, but we find that anytime there is an attempt to enforce these laws, the driver unions see it as an attack on them, and they constitute themselves into spokespersons for all persons. Even though many of these vehicles, even the trotros or public buses, have seat-belts in the front seat that the driver could wear, they purport that when we insist that seat-belts be put in the back seat for the passengers, it is an attack on them; the drivers. So, they rather resist the attempt. Mr Speaker, I recall that a year or two ago, there was an attempt, as recalled by the Hon Member for Tamale North, that after the L.I. had been passed and a lot of public education had gone on, the drivers were required to have their vehicles installed with seat-belts. There was a huge uproar and immediately, we, the politicians, joined forces and that became the end of the enforcement. That takes me to the last bit. We, the politicians, are the reason many of those laws are not enforced. I say so because, anytime something is to be done which involves drivers, because they are organised -- let one driver union secretary or organiser somewhere raise his voice, and it is taken up. Then quickly, if the New Patriotic Party (NPP) is in power, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) stands with the drivers. If the NDC is in power, the NPP stands with the drivers. In the end, nothing happens. Mr Speaker, so, we should take responsibility for the failure of enforcement. [Hear! Hear!] We should
Thank you very much, Hon First Deputy Speaker. Leadership, if you have any comments. Hon Deputy Minority Leader, you do not sit in your chair and point --
Mr Speaker, I would want to cede my -- [Laughter.]
You would rise and do the right thing, please.
Yes, Hon Agbodza would speak on my behalf.
Do you want to engage in sign communication with the Chair?
Mr Speaker, on behalf of the Leadership --
Hon Deputy Minority Leader, you would apologise and do the right thing. I insist.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much for the opportunity to comment on the Statement --
Hon Deputy Minority Leader, I do not insist that you should contribute. I said that the Leadership has the opportunity. If you want some other Hon Member on your Side to contribute - - but you do not do so by sitting and making gestures. If you would want to let someone else contribute, you may do so, but in the right way. If you would want to go on yourself, you may go on.
Mr Speaker, thank you. I appreciate your guidance. Mr Speaker, I would want your permission to ask the Hon Agbodza to speak on behalf of the Leadership of our Side.
Thank you very much. Hon Member, you may proceed.
Mr Speaker, thank you and the Hon Deputy Minority Leader for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, one of the commonest breaches of our laws is within the area of driving. The average driver in this country, probably, would breach parts of traffic regulations between the time he leaves home and when he gets back. Either by speaking on the phone while driving when he or she is not supposed to do so, or a mother or a father allowing the child to stand on a seat in a car instead of being strapped in the seat or sitting in a cot in a vehicle. Mr Speaker, drivers of late have a different way of showing us the traffic regulation -- the vehicle has got a traffic indicator alright, but they do not use it; just before they manoeuver in front of us, they stick their hands out and assume that we have already seen their hands while we looked at their tail lights. Mr Speaker, all these things happen on a daily basis, and I agree with the Hon First Deputy Speaker when he says that, perhaps, the reason these laws are not enforced may be because, all of us do not give the needed support to the Agencies; the DVLA, the National Road Safety Commission and the Ghana Police Service. Mr Speaker, I am sure that a couple of people, even in this House, have probably been stopped once or twice by the Police in their driving life for talking on the mobile phone, but then the people would say it was their first time of doing so. Mr Speaker, the Ghana Police Service would do their job if we give them the chance, but I am a bit concerned about a part of the law. Mr Speaker, I beg to read section 13 of the Road Traffic Act 2004, Act 683 as amended, “A person of 18 years or above who (a) drives a motor vehicle on a road, or (b) sits on the front or rear seat of a motor vehicle being driven on a road without wearing a seat belt commits an offence …” Mr Speaker, when the trotro people say that they do not need a seat-belt in parts of their car, we do not understand. The law says that if someone sits on the front seat or the rear seat -- But what about the middle seat? Or is the definition of a rear seat -- [Interruption] -- Sometimes, the trotro drivers would ask why we would want them to put on a seat-belt. Mr Speaker, we live in a country -- some countries call it fool proof -- if we write laws for everybody, including my grandmother, we have to write it in a way that everybody must understand. The law says a “front and a rear seat,” and I am saying that I have met trotro drivers who have said that the law says that the people at the front and back seats are those supposed to wear seat-belts. Mr Speaker, so, is it possible that these interpretations would be made in such a way that everybody would understand, that when we say “rear seats”, we mean all the seats? What prevented this House from writing a law that would say that everybody who sits in the car should wear a seat-belt? Why do we say front seat or rear seat when we know that we do not only have front and rear seats in vehicles? So, when we pass laws, let us pass them for everybody and not for only those who understand the English language -- as people think they could understand. Mr Speaker, sometimes, it is quite interesting when we talk about these issues and just leave them. Mr Speaker, what exact punitive measures are there for an ordinary person, an Hon Member of Parliament, a Judge or a police officer who is regularly seen by the public, driving and talking on the mobile phone? We expect that these laws would be enforced by the Police, but when the Police regularly arrests us for doing same, we plead for clemency. We cannot pretend. If these laws are supposed to be implemented and done well, then all of us, including Hon Members of Parliament, Judges and everybody who drives a car and speaks on a mobile phone should feel ashamed. Mr Speaker, I am sure that all of us are talking to ourselves in our hearts that maybe coming to work this morning, we drove and talked on the mobile phone. It does not matter whether 10 people called us from our constituencies and that was why we needed to pick the mobile phone -- wrong is wrong even if it was my grandmother or even the Rt Hon Speaker. Mr Speaker, I would want to side with the Hon First Deputy Speaker that, the only way that these laws could be enforced to make our roads safe is if everybody watching or hearing this could actually subject himself or herself to the same laws that if a person is caught by the Police speaking on the mobile phone while driving, then that person should actually endure and go through the punishment. If somebody knows very well that his child, who is underage, stands on the front seat or the back seat, like a trophy, instead of being strapped in a seat belt, it is a crime, then when the Police arrests them -- and I urge the Police that the next time they arrest anybody, including myself, and the person pleads for clemency, they should not listen. That is the only way the law could be -- [Laughter.] We pretend that the Police do not do their job -- Do we not say that? They are ready to do their jobs just as the Hon First Deputy Speaker said. Mr Speaker, so, on this note, I believe that the call by the Hon Member is very well made, but the answer is not with the Police. The answer is with politicians, including most of us sitting in these chairs. Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, I wanted to make a brief remark, but I noticed that the Hon Member for Subin is beckoning to be heard. So, if I may yield to him as well.
Thank you very much. Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I am most grateful. Mr Speaker, I believe that the Hon First Deputy Speaker made the point clear. The duty of care is owed to the passenger, and that education must come from the person in the driving seat. The Hon Member for Adaklu's understanding of the rear and middle seats is very clear. Anybody behind the driving seat is a rear seat -- it is simple. I believe that he should get a copy of the Highway Code -- [Interruption] -- Anybody behind the driving seat, be it the middle seat, or the rear seat is considered as a passenger in the car. Mr Speaker, that was a point of correction. I am most grateful.
Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I believe that the Hon Member for Adaklu is not saying that he does not understand the meaning of rear as any seat behind the driver's seat -- it is either the front seats or the back seats. Mr Speaker, so, he understands this perfectly, but he is only drawing attention that, perhaps, we should have been clearer in defining what constitutes rear seats. He understands and appreciates it, but he is telling us that his constituents at Adaklu have a problem -- [Laughter] -- That perhaps, may include pedestrians at Kejetia and not Suame, because the people of Suame are vehicular artisans and they understand the terminology. Mr Speaker, but I believe that, the Hon First Deputy Speaker hit the nail right on its head when he blamed us, the politicians in particular, even though we are not the only sinners as far as this matter is concerned. Mr Speaker, I believe that squarely, the burden should be laid on the shoulders of politicians and the police who are also to insist on the right thing to be done; and I would even dare to include the DVLA. I include the DVLA because the issue that the Hon First Deputy Speaker related to, had to do with vehicles in the system at the time -- lots of vehicles or trucks that are converted for the use of passengers. Mr Speaker, it is for them to insist on the right thing to be done -- that after the conversion, the seats that they installed in the vehicles are provided with seat belts. It is for the DVLA to ensure that before they grant them the licenses, but they do not ensure that. So, let us rope all of them in -- the DVLA, the Ghana Police Service, the politicians and all those who are highly placed, who after people have been caught for offences, troop to the police stations to plead for them and sometimes even go behind the curtains to plead with Judges. Mr Speaker, if we would have to come to some reasonable consensus on this, then the issue that he raised, that if a Statement is made in this House, maybe, by the Hon Minority Leader or the Hon Majority Leader and supported ably by the Hon Minority Leader or vice versa, we would carry the entire nation with us. Let nobody endeavour to reap where he had not sown and associate with the drivers whenever they are called to do what is right. Mr Speaker, this Statement was made on account of ensuring that seat belts are worn but I noticed that Hon Colleagues have really digressed into other areas. They talked about drivers driving and talking on telephones. They are not really relevant on the subject matter; but to the extent that they are concerned with the protection of life and property, I guess you would be accommodating enough to allow for that. Mr Speaker, yes, we could also talk about the training of the drivers themselves, the people who are behind the driving wheels. The comprehension of road signs by many of them is suspicious. There are drivers plying our roads whose eyesight, are not in the best of shapes. Elsewhere, every year, drivers would be called upon to have their eyes examined to see whether their sight is proper or defective, but we do not do that. They are required to do so every two years, but whether they do so is another matter. Who ensures that? In the renewal of licences, they are required to do that; but how many of them do that? And who sees to the compliance of the drivers? Mr Speaker, we know that people sit in their bedrooms and acquire licences. People sit in their bedrooms and have their
Thank you very much, Hon Majority Leader. I direct that the Hon First Deputy Speaker, the Hon Chairman of the Committee on Roads and Transport and the Hon Ranking Member should consider this Statement further and make recommendations to this Honourable House with reference to the use of seat belts, telephones while driving and other related matters for the House to further consider this important matter in due course. The Hon Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection is in the House to make a Statement. Hon Minister, you may so do. Congratulations to H. E. President Akufo-Addo as AU Gender Champion for 2017 and co-Chair of UNSDG
Mr Speaker, it is a special honour and a distinct privilege for me to make this Statement before this august House of Parliament on the conferment of one of the highest awards in Africa on H. E. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). Our President was recognised by his peers at the opening ceremony of the 29th Ordinary Session of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. As announced by H.E. President Alpha Conde of the Republic of Guinea, who is also the Chairman of the AU, the award was in recognition of President Akufo- Addo's efforts at deepening and strengthening gender equality in Ghana, in particular and Africa in general. We at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP), who are mandated by law to develop policy and supervise the implementation of gender- equalising programmes, are especially proud of the continental acknow- ledgement of our President as an African Gender Champion. This Award reassures us that Ghana is executing the right policies in respect of programmes that are aimed at addressing gender issues in our society. As we all know, prior to this award, the President had been appointed Chair- person of the AU's Committee on Gender and Development -- an equally deserving honour, and one I believe he would execute with diligence and excellence. It is worthy to note that, our President has been a gender advocate long before he ascended to the Presidency. His credentials as a gender champion were only more publicly manifested when he appointed the first female Chief of Staff, nine women to Ministerial portfolios, and the nomination of several women to Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executive positions, with 36 receiving the nod from their respective Assemblies. Only a few weeks ago, he appointed H.E. Sophia Abena Boafoa Akuffo to the position of Chief Justice, making her the second woman to hold the position in the history of the country. These appointments and many more in the diplomatic and corporate spheres have solidified the credentials of our President as the quintessential gender champion of our time. Indeed, we wish to take this opportunity to thank our President for personally demonstrating his commitment to gender emancipation by making a statement on International Women's Day when he joined us for the celebrations at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection. As advocates for gender equality, we wish to celebrate our President on behalf of all Ghanaians. We also want to seize the opportunity to remind all that even though much has been achieved, much more work remains to be done. Gender mainstreaming remains a work in progress. Gender discrimination, sexual violence, female trafficking, among others still unfortunately occur too frequently in our country for us to start jubilating or becoming complacent. Mr Speaker, this award is a strategic call which encourages our President and this august House to ensure that the passage of the Affirmative Action Bill into law becomes a reality now. The Bill when passed, will give more meaning to Ghana's commitment to the overall promotion of gender equality, equity and the empowerment of women, men, girls and boys. It will also underscore the strong political will for reducing poverty levels, social injustice among women and men, improving health standards, and enhancing efficiency of public and private sector budgetary support for the attainment of gender equity and equality as a pre-requisite for sustainable development. This also translates into the President's role as the Co-Chair for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) advocate to ensure the mainstreaming of gender equality concerns into the national development processes as part of the global transformative agenda. It will help improve the social, legal, civic, political, economic and socio- cultural conditions of the people of Ghana particularly women, girls, children, the vulnerable and people with special needs; persons with disability and the marginalised in conformity with the overall achievement of the SDGs at all levels by 2030. It is my hope that, this award will create an urgent need for partnerships with new stakeholders including foreign Govern- ments, civil societies, and the private sector to share knowledge and resources for awareness creation in line with the integrated approach in the implementation of the SDGs, so that we leave nobody behind. Mr Speaker, President Akufo-Addo has set the tone and pointed the direction for the rest of us. This is the clarion call for the rest of us, Members of Parliament, institutions, families and individuals, to heed this call, and pledge to fight gender discrimination and all its attendant and associated ills. Once again, we salute President Akufo- Addo for raising high the flag of Ghana. We call on all to emulate our President and join the fight to eradicate all forms of gender-induced discrimination, sex-based social deprivation, misogyny and all the societal taboos that have created barriers against the rapid progress and advance- ment of women, in order to achieve the accelerated development and total transformation of our country Ghana.
Thank you very much, Hon Minister. Hon Yieleh Chireh?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, when our country is honoured, we all need to be happy about it. Of course, somebody leads the country, so, he has to receive that award on our behalf. If we look at the appointments that have been made, we would see that it is the record of Ghana they looked at and said, yes, we could arrive at this point. Mr Speaker, I must also commend the President for the appointment of a number of women. He is trying to cancel the record of others, but that is not enough. This commendation we would give him -- I would still remind the President that there are outstanding issues concerning gender, particularly women, which we have failed collectively, to address as a nation. So, in commending the President, let us remind him that, under article 22 of the Constitution, and with your permission, I would read it: “(1) A spouse shall not be deprived of a reasonable provision out of the estate of a spouse whether or not the spouse died having made a will. (2) Parliament shall, as soon as practicable after the coming into force of this Constitution, enact legislation regulating the property rights of spouses. (3) With the view to achieving the full realisation of the rights referred to in clause (2) of this article -- (a) spouses shall have equal access to property jointly acquired during marriage; (b) assets which are jointly acquired during marriage shall be distributed equitably between the spouses upon dissolution of the marriage.” Mr Speaker, this is a very important thing; the Supreme Court has taken serious decisions in Mensah v. Mensah and several others, telling us that this is the way to go. In order for us to continue to shine as a gender sensitive country, a country that particularly recognises the rights of women, we should go ahead. I would urge the President to encourage the Hon Minister who has made the Statement to bring a Bill to this House, for this House to pass same into law, taking a cue from what the Supreme Court has already decided. Mr Speaker, once again, it is good for so many women to have been appointed, and it is good for all of them to show that they are capable of performing and this is not just tokenism; it is not because women are not in the system. I would urge that the commendation that we give to the President for this -- Of course, naturally, one would ask what the criteria for the decision was; whether it was a competition, and how a person enters the competition to be able to win this award. But once we have won it, we should be happy as a country to have won it. We need better particulars from the Hon Minister to help us to appreciate the effort that we have made as a country to become eligible for this award. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
Hon Chairman of the Committee on Gender and Children?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, it is worthy of note that, in this era in Ghana's democratic dispen- sation, the President of our Republic is honoured by no less a person than the peers in Africa as well as the United Nations, of which every country hopes and prays to associate with. Mr Speaker, our President has done a lot and he needs to be commended. It is not about just praise singing to our President, but as a young practising politician like myself, it is worth saying that the President is walking his talk. For the first time, the President did not only appoint a female as the Chief of Staff, but the secretary to his Cabinet is also a female. The President went ahead as was clearly demonstrated by the Hon Minister's Statement -- We have numerous women in Office today who manage our local government; our District Assemblies. Let us praise and encourage ourselves when it is due us to do so. It is our country, it is for our own people. Mr Speaker, I am happy that at this time we are speaking on affirmative action. It is long overdue. As a matter of principle, when the Minister who is spearheading this Bill brings it to this House, we must, as a body, help to bring life to the major and many things we proffer in this House.
Yes, Hon Chairman of the Gender and Children Committee, how do we not just encourage the President, but also capture the initiative on gender matters to some good extent, particularly, with regard to the Affirmative Action Law that is proposed? We know that it has not really come here yet, but we can still, as a Parliament, seriously consider it, even if from your Committee's angle, to contribute effec- tively to its development. Would you want to tell us what you are doing?
Mr Speaker, I take a cue from your direction.
So, you are only taking a cue. In the meantime, I thought you would be engaged in some Parliamentary initiative.
Mr Speaker, already, we have in our programme to tease ourselves with what -- The Hon Minister has already invited us to some fora in the past as a Committee, and this was to ensure that the Affirmative Action Bill comes into this House. Mr Speaker, we have various Com- mittees like the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs -- for example. Yesterday, I was in a meeting with the Chairperson for Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, to see how we can get our Hon Colleagues to help us achieve a very useful and purposeful law as an Act for the affirmative action.
Thank you very much. Yes, Hon Member?
Thank you very much. Yes, Hon Member?
Mr Speaker, I would like to congratulate the Hon Minister for recognising the President of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo. In her Statement, she made a very interesting comment. She said, “raising the flag of Ghana high”.
The Hon First Deputy Speaker would take the Chair soon. Please continue.
Mr Speaker, our President has worked very hard over the years by recognising the importance of women and encouraging them to excel in their various chosen fields. Mr Speaker, this award is an affirmation of what our President really represents.
MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER IN THE
Hon Member, continue.
It is through the dint of hard work and his respect for women in general. Mr Speaker, as a lover of democracy, our President cherishes freedom, rights and gender equality. Mr Speaker, our President has shown excellence. He is a man we should emulate in terms of his thinking. The way he does his things -- Mr Speaker, I give our President a thumbs up. Mr Speaker, just recently, our President was decorated with Liberia's highest national award -- the Grand Order of the Most Venerable Order of the Knighthood of Pioneers. Mr Speaker, according to the Liberian Government, the award was for Nana Akufo-Addo's contribution towards the sustenance of lasting peace. Mr Speaker, if nobody would remember anything at all, we would remember the Supreme Court verdict. This is a man who said we want peace in Ghana, so, we should let sleeping dogs lie. Mr Speaker, this is a man some of us -- We, the women of Africa and Ghana, appreciate him. When we hear such names in other countries -- People hail him high. We should also be proud of him. It does not matter which party we belong to but we should be proud that we have a Ghanaian, a son of the soil, who brings fame to this nation. Mr Speaker, the President of this nation is making Ghana proud. We should all come together and uphold the good works of this man. We should also encourage others to also appreciate the President of Ghana. When you have your own and you do not appreciate -- Mr Speaker, a prophet is never accepted in his own country. But look at Liberia, they even appreciate our President. So, I would end by saying that my Hon Colleagues from the Minority side of the House should help me give a thumbs up to the President of Ghana.
Mr Speaker, I rise to contribute to the Statement made by the Hon Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection. Mr Speaker, it is good to give honour to whom honour is due. We appreciate, acknowledge and honour this prestigious award received by His Excellency the President. Mr Speaker, as my Hon Colleague, Hon Sowah, mentioned, previous Presidents - - As 1 Corinthians 3:7 says, I planted and another person did the watering. The previous Presidents did well by initiating gender equity and equality. Rt Hon Justice Joyce Bamford-Addo was the first female Speaker of Parliament in this country and the whole West African sub-region. Then the immediate past Chief Justice and the first female Chairperson of the Electoral Commission. So, they did the planting. His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo is doing the watering and the award states that “for his efforts at deepening and strengthening gender equity.” Mr Speaker, as I said early on, we acknowledge and appreciate this award that His Excellency the President has received but it is disheartening to note that, important Ministries like the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection -- These two Ministries are very impor- tant; they cannot be left out from the President's Cabinet but it is sad to know that, the two Ministries -- The Hon Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection is a woman; the Hon Minister for Local Government and Rural Development is a woman. Mr Speaker, any country that takes gender equity and equality issues seriously develops at a faster pace. This is because when women are put at the helm of affairs, they perform better, at times than the men. So, Mr Speaker, in strengthening and deepening gender issues in this country, His Excellency the President should not lose sight of involving more women in his Cabinet since he has received this award. Mr Speaker, I would also urge and encourage the President that in his next Cabinet reshuffle, more women should be seen in his Cabinet, so that this award that he has received would not be just a white elephant award but he would be seen as somebody who has received an award and walked the talk.
Yes, Hon Majority Leader?
Mr Speaker, I do not intend to contribute, but correct something my Hon Colleague said. She said that Hon Joyce Bamford-Addo was the first female Speaker of Parliament in the entire Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) sub-region. That is incorrect. The first one was in the Gambia, appointed by former President Yahya Jammeh in 2006. So, what she said could not be correct.
For the record, the correction is noted.
I am looking at you.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member on the floor -- [Interruption.] He was on the floor but he sat down because I had been called. He said that I was nodding. Yes, I did. This is because, he gave the meaning of “spouse”. Most of the time, when we talk about “spouse”, people reference it to be the wife. So, I appreciate it. Mr Speaker, when he was speaking, and with all these information, he denied the fact that, we should not play partisan politics. I agree with him from that angle as well. But he quoted the 1992 Constitution and said that there were provisions in it which said that it was not only the President who was mandated or requested to play those leading roles, but other organs have also been provided to do that yet, when the award was won on behalf of the people of Ghana, he does not want to accept that one.
Hon Deputy Minority Leader, for the record, the Hon Member referred to articles 27, 28 and 29 and those were in respect of the child and mother rights.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Member said that for that one, it was not the role of the President to ensure that -- it is all of us, yet, when there is an award, the President alone is expected to take it. It is no. I would want to say that, it is for the people of Ghana but everybody in Ghana cannot take the award and so, it is the President who can take it on our behalf. That is what I would want him to accept.
Majority Leadership, do you want to make your contributions?
Mr Speaker, all that the Hon Deputy Minority Leader said was on a point of order.
If it were a point of order, I would have ruled on it. I thought I gave him the opportunity to contribute. Hon Deputy Minority Whip, I would listen to you.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity. Mr Speaker, I would want to thank the Hon Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection for this Statement and I would want to touch on it paragraph by paragraph. Mr Speaker, it would be noted that the Hon Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection kept on congratulating the President for the award. In my view, before an award is given, there would be a Committee which would be set up for a month or two to look into it before the country that would win the award is selected -- and a four or five month's work would never give us this award -- [Interruption] -- which meant that it started from somewhere. Mr Speaker, former President Jerry John Rawlings started by projecting women, former President John Agyekum Kufuor continued and created the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs, as my Hon Colleague said -- late President John Evans Atta Mills built upon it, former President John Dramani Mahama also did his best and increased the number. Even Parliament has recently done its best to increase the number in the House. So, it is an effort by all the former Pre- sidents and all the Hon Members of Parliament, that has positioned Ghana to receive this award and President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, as our current President, received it on behalf of Ghanaians. Mr Speaker, I would want to congra- tulate him for receiving the award for Ghana and also for continuing with the gender equality issues. Mr Speaker, I would want to urge Parliament -- we would want a policy for gender equality. I would want to plead with the President, the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and the employment agencies to make sure that, anytime they would want to employ, they should consider women. Mr Speaker, it was only few women who were involved in the recent District Chief Executive (DCE) issues. One is from Ada and as I speak now, men are on their feet to make sure that, this woman should not be elected as the DCE. This is the first time we would have a female DCE for the Ada District. Mr Speaker, I would want to plead with the men, the Hon Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, and the President, for receiving this award for gender equality, to also step in. Women in politics, women lawyers and everybody should descend to Ada and fight this cause to make sure that the woman who would be the first female DCE is confirmed this week. Mr Speaker, I would want to congra- tulate the Hon Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection once again, for championing a lot of appointments of women in government. Mr Speaker, I would also want to plead with the President that no woman should be reshuffled. [Laughter.] Recently, it was circulated in the social Media that the Hon Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection would be reshuffled. We do not want a situation where one hand is used to offer something and the other hand is used to collect it back. If we have been given the positions, it should be sustained because, we are capable and can deliver. Mr Speaker, I thank you for the wonderful opportunity.
Hon Deputy Minority Whip, I had wanted to ask you a question on the Ada DCE. You said the men were on their feet to prevent her.
What have the women done?
The market women and the assembly women are all in support of her --
That is good. So, you should also be on your feet and support her.
Mr Speaker, I am on my feet in support of her because she is a woman. I would want to plead that she should be confirmed so that she would work. People are judging her by her appearance and they said she would not be competent. Competence is not written on the forehead of anybody. A person has to be given an opportunity to deliver before he or she could be judged as incompetent. The woman is capable -- she would be able to deliver and do the work. So, the men should also support her to make sure she gets the nod as the DCE.
Thank you, Hon Deputy Minority Whip. I challenge the women of Ada to make sure she is confirmed and show her competence and make sure that she wins. Hon Deputy Majority Leader?
If you bring me in, I would speak to my position on the matter. So, leave me out — [Laughter.]
I had the privilege to have heard a few of his thoughts on it. Mr Speaker, on a more serious note, I believe that this House must take up its responsibility and make sure that we pass all these laws — The public is looking at us. The Supreme Court is making very serious decisions and judgement on the matter and in one such decision, it actually referred to us, that if Parliament is not acting, then the Supreme Court would make the laws. Mr Speaker, this is an indictment on our integrity as a Parliament. So, we have to be very proactive and make sure that, some of these Acts or Bills that would foster the promotion of gender parity and equality are actually hastened in terms of the passage of the law. Mr Speaker, on this note, I would want to once again congratulate H.E. the President, whose personal efforts have given him this recognition,. And again, to the Hon Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, for giving us this very, important Statement. \2.35 p.m.
Hon Members, there is another Statement admitted by the Rt Hon Speaker which stands in the name of Hon Ras Mubarak, Hon Member for Kumbungu and it is on the mining disaster in Prestea-Nsuta. Mining Disaster in Prestea-Nsuta
Mr Speaker, scores of miners have been reported trapped in a mining pit in Prestea- Nsuta in the Western Region, with at least, one reported death. The Police and other miners are doing their best to save those trapped. This is not the first time a mining disaster has happened in Ghana. Mr Speaker, in November 2009, a collapse occurred in an illegal, privately owned gold mine in Dompoase. 18 workers were reportedly killed in the disaster. In 2013, another gold mine collapsed in the Central Region, killing seventeen people. Two years before that, thirty-two people died in a similar accident. There's also the disaster which occurred at a mining pit at Bonsawere in the Central Region in 2015. These accidents have happened not just in the southern parts of Ghana, but also in the north. Three persons died in 2015 in the Talensi District of the Upper East Region and just recently, two persons died in Dalun in my constituency within a spate of one month following disasters from sand mining. These are just reported cases. Some happen with little or no Press attention, just as the two recent events in Dalun. Like what happened in Dalun and other past disasters, what happened in Prestea- Nsuta in the Western Region last Sunday is very tragic. Equally tragic is the emergency response. We have seen so many tragedies like these to have had the necessary emergency responses. The Ghanaian public should be told what measures have been taken to rescue persons who were trapped and whether emergency workers have the necessary resources they need in the rescue exercise. What kind of support is available for people who have been affected by the disaster? Is there a Victims Support Unit? It would be useful to have the Minister for Mines appear before the House to fully brief the House on what he knows so far. It should never have happened. And it cannot be right that incidents like that keep recurring every now and then. Successive governments have not done much to get to the causes of illegal mining -- whether gold mining or sand wining as is the case in my constituency. What were the lessons learnt from previous disasters? What actions had been taken to forestall a recurrence? How many more miners, Ghanaian youth, must die under such tragic circumstances before we can get to the causes of illegal mining and actually deal with it? Is the political class doing enough to stand up for the vulnerable in our society? Sixty (60) years after Independence and 57 years of Republican status. We must do more to show that illegal miners and the vulnerable in our society have not been overlooked and ignored, and that we are listening to them. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Hon Member for Ningo-Prampram?
Mr Speaker, let me congratulate the Hon Member who made the Statement which touches on the loss of lives of Ghanaians. Mr Speaker, the loss of life of any single Ghanaian is regrettable and it is something that we must condemn in all circumstances and at all points in time. I heard the news of the disaster and I was a bit taken aback that illegal mining still persists in our country. I was under the impression that a certain action had been taken which had led to a joint taskforce of our various security services putting a stop to illegal mining. So, it came to me as a rude awakening to find out that the scourge of illegal mining still persists in our country. Mr Speaker, we need to ask ourselves, where have we gotten to? in the fight against galamsey which was started by successive hovernments but highly brought to the fore by the current Hon Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Hon John Peter Amewu, who happens to be my constituent and the support from the Media. Where are we as a nation? And does this not raise red flags for us as representatives of the people? If illegal mining is still claiming the lives of ordinary Ghanaian citizens, what would happen if we allow unbridled mining, forest reserves and other mine sites which have not even been explored yet? Mr Speaker, these are questions that, as representatives of the people of this country, the 275 of us as Members of Parliament must advert our minds to. And this is the reason for someone like me who
Hon Member, is there salt mining in your constituency?
Yes, Mr Speaker; but it is not mined illegally.
Well, I am not talking about illegality. It is discovered under the Mines and Minerals Act that salt is part of mining.
Yes, Mr Speaker. But salt mining is not galamsey. Mr Speaker, my worry is that until and unless we are able as a nation, to put a final stop and a final nail in the coffin of galamsey -- illegal small-scale mining and even illegal large-scale mining -- Because some of the galamsey sites are not small- scale sites; they are large-scale miners who are mining without permits and have no land reclamation programmes in place. Mr Speaker, I believe that, as a House which represents the people of this country, we must hold the Executive in check and tell them that, they have the responsibility to our constituents to ensure the safety of their lives. That is the reason I add my voice to the call that this House scrutinises any transaction that would engage or include mining, to ensure that the lives of our constituents are safe and that we would not have repeated stories of our consti- tuents being swallowed in mining sites. Mr Speaker, the last point is our response to such natural disasters. That is, if I would call them natural disasters in the first place. Such disasters are man- made disasters; what are our response mechanisms to them? Maybe, if we would follow international news, we would realise that landslides and these kinds of incidents happen a lot in many parts of China. Maybe instead of looking at importing wholesale Chinese miners, we should look at importing some of their preventive and rescue operation techniques, so that we would have skill and equipment which would rescue Ghanaians in the event of this unfortunate man-made disasters. Mr Speaker, we need to ask ourselves whether the Ghana National Fire Service, the National Ambulance Service and the Ghana Police Service, are well equipped to handle these man-made disasters? As a representative of the people, I am not sure we are in such a position and it leaves me worried. Thank you.
Yes, Hon Member for Odotobri?
Mr Speaker, I rise to comment on the Statement made by my Hon Colleague and to commend him highly for bringing this issue to the Floor of the House. Mr Speaker, first of all let me send my condolences to the bereaved families for the lost. As of now, the information we have gathered is that, it is not possible to retrieve the bodies of about 16 Ghanaians
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to also make some comments. When I heard the news about galam- seyers getting trapped, what I told myself was that, it was not a surprise at all. This is because, I subscribe to those who believe that, our approach to the fight against galamsey was not right. What we are seeing now is the result of the fact that, we have lost or we are losing the fight against galamsey. Mr Speaker, it is true that we have lots of people whose livelihood depends on galamsey and we cannot just stop them. If we stop them, they will hide and do it and that is the result. That is the reason some of us subscribed to a different approach. Let us look at means of not making galamsey legal but regularising small- scale mining and that includes providing them with technical skills in areas where the cons overweigh the pros. We need to find alternative livelihood sources and it needs a lot of persuasion. Mr Speaker, when they started the fight against galamsey two to three months ago, what we heard was that, people went to the studios of radio and television stations in Accra and they talked about galamsey.
Hon Member, there are people whose livelihood depends on other crimes. Should we abandon the fight against crime because their livelihood depends on that?
Mr Speaker, yes, it is illegal but we can make meaning out of that situation. We can make meaning because there is a school of thought which believes that, even criminals can be trained for our good depending on the skills that the person has. So,we can harness these resources and make sure that those who would want to live out of it are given proper training. After weighing the pros and cons, as I said earlier, and we believe that allowing people to mine in that area would lead to the extinction of rivers, we can give them alternative livelihood sources. Mr Speaker, that is the only way we can solve this problem. Otherwise, like it happened in the early days when akpeteshie was introduced. When we ban it, people would hide and drink. When they come out drunk, we cannot extract the alcohol from them. So, Mr Speaker, we need to find ways of giving them other sources of income. Then, we would be on the right path of curbing this menace. Otherwise, let us brace ourselves and get ready. With these, Mr Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to comment on this Statement about people who lost their lives from this galamsey issue. It is quite unfortunate and my condolences to the families who have lost their loved ones. Mr Speaker, for anybody to assume or say that we have lost the fight against galamsey, in my opinion, is too early to conclude. I believe what the Government is doing is clear. The issue has been stopped, at least for now or reduced to the point where Hon Gyamfi is saying that one can see that those rivers are clear now. We also have to remember that the fight against this galamsey is not just a new one. The negative issues that we are having about galamsey are not new. There have been failed attempts by some Governments in the past as we all know in trying to deal with it. Mr Speaker, so what I believe should actually happen just as some Hon Colleagues from the other side of the House concluded with, is not to expect that this fight would be over in six months by the new Government, but rather, we must unite as a people to fight this together and not to take a defeated position of a lost battle as some may describe it, but begin to say that this is possible to handle. I sincerely believe that we know people's lives depend on small scale mining and I believe that, the Government is mindful of that. For that reason, all attempts are being taken to look at that to make sure that those whose lives depend on galamsey or small scale mining have alternative means to live their lives. Mr Speaker, with these few words, I thank you for the opportunity.
Mr Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to contri- bute to the Statement on the floor of the House and to commend the Hon Member who made the Statement for bringing this matter onto the floor of Parliament. I also wish to add my voice to those who have expressed condolences to the families of the victims and their loved ones. Mr Speaker, yesterday, on or around 9.00 o'clock, I had a call from a radio station inviting me to comment on the death of 17 people in a mine pit in Prestea. I had not heard of the news then. So, I exclaimed; is this still happening? I was shocked with the resolved determination and courage of the Hon Minister for Lands and Natural Resources and the Government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in tackling this menace. Mr Speaker, I was convinced that we need to bring an end to the illegal theft of our natural resources, to the degradation of our environment, pollution of our water bodies and to the insecurity posed to communities living around the sites where galamsey activities take place and I commend the Media for bringing this matter to the fore. Mr Speaker, clearly, what happened yesterday, should not get us into believing that we must stop the fight. It must re- enforce our resolve to continue the fight. Galamsey must stop. In all the examples that the Hon Member who made the Statement has given, all the activities that resulted in the death of the poeople, were illegal activities in mining. In all the examples, it clearly shows that, where the activity of mining especially, on a small scale is done legally, one would minimise the risk of people losing their lives. That is what it shows. Mr Speaker, there is also the legal framework and indeed, the only reason small scale mining was legalised in or around the year 1989 was because of its tremendous potential to provide employment to the teeming majority of Ghanaians who are otherwise unemployed. Everybody who advocated for the legalisation of small scale mining knew that without a robust regulatory system, it would compromise not only our waterbodies but also take away our farming lands. So, we knew and that is why persons who are interested in going into small scale mining are given the opportunity. Mr Speaker, what is happening should encourage all those who are still interested in small scale mining to please take advantage of the legal regime and come under the regulatory ambit of the Minerals Commission.
Does Leadership want to comment on this Statement?
Mr Speaker, I am moved to offer a brief comment, especially with respect to what my Hon Colleague, Hon Terlabi indicated when he told us that we would have to regularise galamsey because so many people's livelihood depend on it. Mr Speaker, I believe that it is a very weak argument. A few years ago, when this House was about to craft the Forest Resources Management Act, this same argument played out when we wanted to ban illegal chainsaw activities. There was the argument that so many people had returned from Nigeria with chainsaws and so if we deprive them they would go underground and fell the trees in the course of the night. So, we should license them to that. Mr Speaker, in 1989, when there was the talk about allowing for small scale operations came up -- Of course the Parliament of the Fourth Republic had not been born and it was a Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) decision -- The issue that came out was the potential employment that it had to generate. Mr Speaker, you made an intervention when my Hon Colleague, Hon Terlabi, was resorting to the same argument. When you entered the fray to ask whether indeed we should discount the illegality, the havoc it is causing and play to the argument that it has been offering some employment. So, we should allow it. Mr Speaker, very soon or if it is today that we are going to enact legislation about robbery, we have people who say to us that, so many people depend on it, so let us firstly find them an alternative employment before we begin to talk about banning or applying sanctions on thieves or robbers. Mr Speaker, I cannot understand why these things are playing up every now and then. Mr Speaker, I cannot really appreciate the rationalisation that people provide for this. What is illegal is illegal. I believe that the time has come for us as a nation to determine for ourselves whether we should even allow for surface mining in the first place. It started in Australia; they banned them and all of a sudden they have found their way into Ghana. Those people who started the activities in Australia were driven out; they found themselves in Ghana to begin the opera- tions of surface mining as opposed to pit mining or underground mining which obtained in Ghana in the days of old. This is not only contributing seriously to the degradation of our lands -- we are talking about deforestation, the threat to food security, pollution of water bodies, introducing destructive chemicals into our environment, introducing diseases that were otherwise unknown in our environment. Mr Speaker, the tragedy is that, the guys who go into the waterbodies to do this -- and because of the introduction of those chemicals -- Today, we hear that miners from Burkina Faso are introducing cyanides in refining the gold. Mr Speaker, they stay in these waterbodies and after three, four or five months, they would have sores all over their bodies. They do not recognise the fact that, it is the chemicals that they are using in those waterbodies that is affecting them and they begin to recline to witchcraft and say that their grandmothers and grand- fathers in their houses are the ones afflicting them with those diseases. Mr Speaker, we all know that, the cyanides and the mercury have the potential of causing cancer. I shudder to think what may happen to us as a country if we do not stop these illegal activities of galamseyers. In the next
The tenor of the Statement itself suggests that he was complaining about our ineffective rescue support for illegal miners. I find the two contradicting. The mining is illegal and from the Statement, they are hiding to do it. So, they go there at the dead of night. They do not want any one to see that they are doing anything there. So, how does one rescue them if there is an accident? One would not probably know that they are operating there until there is an accident. So, the concluding part of the State- ment entreats me -- It says we must do more to show illegal miners and the vulnerable in our society that they have not been overlooked and ignored, and that we are listening to them. Hon Member, we are not listening to the illegal miners; we are fighting them. We would want them to cease to exist. We would want them to obtain the proper licences and get regulated. So, while I share your concerns about our general inefficiency in rescue activities, as regarding illegal miners, if I had my own way, it is a different ball game. Any way, the time for Statements is over. Hon Majority Leader, are we going to do item numbered 6 on the Order Paper?
Mr Speaker, I believe Leadership is about completing the exercise. When we are through, we would have to have discussions with the Hon Chairman of the Committee of Selection, who is the Rt Hon Speaker and we would take it forward. Mr Speaker, I would want to believe that we should be able to complete this exercise latest by the beginning of next week. We need to do that because even though we are still waiting for the reviewed Standing Orders to be adopted by the House, we are still a few weeks away from that. Meanwhile, the Committees must be working. So, it is important that we close this chapter, and if we are able to finish it before Parliament takes an adjournment, we would do what is right when we get to the bridge. Mr Speaker, until then, we would have to conclude this, and I will confer with my Hon Colleagues in the Minority Leader- ship for us to bring that matter to a closure by the close of this week such that, by next week Tuesday, we should be in the position to do what is right after further consultations with the Hon Chairman of the Committee who is the Rt Hon Speaker.
In that case, I would still ask you whether there is any indication at this time.
Mr Speaker, having said so, that means we have finished the business for the day, and I would accordingly move that this House adjourns until tomorrow at 12.00 noon.
Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to.