Ghana urged to strengthen inspection system at the harbours
Mr Rudi Daems, a Member of the Flemish Parliament in Belgium, on Tuesday called on government to strengthen the inspection system and processes at Tema harbour to check the dumping of electronic waste in the country.
“A lot of electronic goods such as computer and television sets are transported under the name of 'second hand goods' or 'personal goods.' A part of this goods arrive at the second hand markets but another part of it goes straight to dumping sites such as Agbobloshie, a suburb of Accra,” he said.
Mr Daems, who is in the country to undertake a research on illegal exportation of all kinds of waste products to developing countries such as Asia and Africa, said this at a press conference.
He said there was the need for legislation on imported second hand electronic goods because such goods contain toxic materials such as heavy metals, acids, brominates flame retardants and the burning of such waste release dangerous chemicals into the atmosphere, which are harmful to human health.
In Ghana most scrap dealers burn these electronic goods at Agbobloshie in the open and with bare hands. Information available indicates that the burning of such items is usually done by children between the ages of three and 15 years.
Mr Daems gave evidence of vessels; Julie Delmas and MSC Suez, which arrived at the Tema harbour on Sunday January 24, 2009 and said there were about 13 containers designated as suspect but said the owners have refused to open the containers for no apparent reason.
“We did some research in the past month with the cooperation of the Belgian Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); we managed to trace some illegal containers leaving the harbour of Antwerp, the main port of Belgian toward the Tema Harbour in Ghana. A few containers were stopped on the Julie Delmas vessels and sent back to the producer of the electronic waste in Germany.
“Other containers with 'suspect' content were not stopped because the vessels had already left the harbour when the official transport documents were delivered to the custom officials and the EPA.
“The Belgium EPA therefore asked the EPA Ghana to do some inspection when the vessels arrive in Tema,” he said.
Mr Daems, who described himself as an environmentalist, said his aim was not to prohibit the export of second hand goods to Africa but the condition had to be that such goods were 100 percent re-usable that could be recycled and treated in an environmentally friendly way.
He said he hoped to convince public opinion and political leaders in Belgium and Europe as a whole that it was unacceptable that developed countries were allowed to export illegal goods to developing countries like Ghana.
Mr Daems said Ghana is a signatory to the Basel Convention, a declaration adopted in 1989 and entered into force in 1992 with more than 170 member countries, which state that member countries should ensure that hazardous waste are managed and disposed in an environmentally
He expressed the hope that the government of Ghana would act on the situation by sending back some containers with illegal electronic waste to Europe and added that if the Ghanaian authorities were able to do that, it would be a strong symbolic statement to offenders.