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30.01.2015 Opinion

Police Should Replace “Useless” EPA & Get Its Budget

By Peter Cunningham
Police Should Replace “Useless” EPA & Get Its Budget
LISTEN JAN 30, 2015

My family and I came to live in Emena hoping for peace and tranquility but for at least seven hours each day, every day it feels like we are living in the dictatorship of Nazi Germany. In those seven hours or more the blasting noise of the information Centre at Emena decides what time we wake, after what time we can sleep, what music , religion, preaching, advertising, radio station, sport and news we listen to. Most of my days then are taken up with trying to get a government agency to stop the noise pollution.

The Information Centre of Emena also decides what physical and mental illnesses might be inflicted upon us and other residents. The World Health Organisation has calculated that noise pollution is an environmental killer second only to air pollution.

It has been reported that an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Director disclosed , “noise pollution could cause deafness, blood pressure, indigestion, heartburn, ulcers, heart disease, mental illness, fatigue, damages in the nervous system, increased stress/ irritation, decrease in efficiency at work places, sleep interference, decreased academic performance and indirectly weakens the edifice of buildings and bridges”. The same Regional Director is also reported as saying, “research shows that noise pollution was a risky health hazard and a silent killer, which could induce hypertension and cause blindness”. She said , “noise pollution causes irritability and indigestion and adversely affect the foetus of pregnant women”.

It sure seemed that the EPA was the place to go to for help but not so. One officer there told us a complete story of lies as others sat around with seemingly little to do. Another tried to convince us to go elsewhere for help. Yet another officer said the EPA dealt with such issues for the long term. We have received absolutely no assistance whatsoever from the EPA.

It is my firm view that the EPA needs to be shut down and the greater part of its budget given to the Ghana Police Service. The “silent killers” of Ghana need to be arrested and dealt with by the law.

If anyone should believe the EPA needs to continue to operate then I ask that person or persons to look around at the massive environmental pollution that plagues the Ghanaian people and their health. In its various forms the EPA has been around for forty years. I ask, what have they done for the long term?

In complete and utter contrast to the EPA I have personally experienced the tremendous professionalism and competence of the Ghana Police Service at both lower and senior levels and have only the highest praise for that Service and its members. I believe the Ghana Police Service could teach the police forces of many nations much about police professionalism, peacekeeping and decency. They certainly could teach the EPA many things, especially professionalism and decency!

I recommend that the Police Service use the EPA budget to set up a special task force to police environmental pollution under the existing laws inherent in the Constitution of The Republic of Ghana. I recommend that each police district have an officer trained in environmental law and protection. This officer then could train other police in the district. Every police officer in Ghana would then be on the lookout for environmental pollution and potential pollution, and capable of making arrests.

The Police did a fantastic job trying to assist my family and I but said that they were yet to find something in the Criminal Code that would allow them to act decisively in regard noise pollution.

I recommend that Ghana includes at least the following clauses of the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana, Chapter Five, Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms as part of the Ghana Criminal Code : 26 (2) and 28 (1) (d) and 25. (1) and 28. (4) and 26 (1). This will assist police to make the necessary arrests.

I recommend that Ghana pass all other laws necessary as part of the criminal code so that police are able to make arrests swiftly and decisively in relation to all environmental pollution.

I totally believe only the Ghana Police Service can solve the pollution problem. Certainly not the EPA!

The Ashanti King said, “it was seriously disturbing that in spite of the many laws and policies put in place by the government to promote safe and responsible mining to protect the environment and the nation, we're far from achieving this. The king also took the opportunity to lambast once again chiefs and traditional leaders in the mining communities who have made themselves direct and indirect accessories to illegal miners, saying this is “completely shameful and awful”.

The Regional Minister for the Ashanti region has lashed out by referring to the EPA as a “useless institution”.

Another report on the internet says; Vegetable farmers close to the Emena Primary and JHS have been accused of excessive use of agro chemicals which they say contaminates the air and affects their eyes and skin. Teachers at the school complain they are experiencing respiratory problems which they attribute to the agro chemicals. Some say they have to close the windows and doors to the classroom since the smell makes it difficult for the pupils to concentrate.

The current EPA has had its opportunity to make positive change and it has failed miserably and disgustingly. Now is the time for it to hang its head in shame and hand over the work to the Police Service which would do an excellent job of environmental protection.

I recommend that a new Environmental Advisory Agency be established which would make policy and other environmental recommendations to government. This agency should consist of approximately 7 persons nationally. It should comprise young and vibrant professionals who would put the best interests of Ghana, the environment and its people as top priority.

There are sufficient quantities of research, policy and other information available internationally to preclude the cushy jobs that researchers and other conference lounge lizards usually infiltrate and spend vast sums of public money on. The new Environmental Pollution Police Unit would provide grass roots information to the advisory agency.

Most organisations lose their way; the EPA, in its various forms, has had 40 years to get it right. It hasn't, as anyone can see if they look around Ghana. The evidence of EPA catastrophic failure is clear and unequivocal as are the criticisms of the EPA and the poor health outcomes caused by EPA dysfunction.

Most non profit organisations devolve into self serving incompetent bureaucracies after 20 years. They become decrepit, dilapidated and delusional. I should know, I spent a fair part of my life saving non profit organisations from extinction. It seems the EPA has passed double its “use by” date.

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