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01.02.2005 Disaster

MPs call on Ghanaians to take steps to handle disasters

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Accra, Feb.1, GNA - Members of Parliament on Tuesday called for the enforcement of building regulations and the provision of resources for agencies responsible for managing disasters to ensure that the country was adequately equipped to handle emergencies.

They said the lack of well-trained personnel, haphazard development in major cities and the poor awareness of disaster preparedness among a large section of the society were ingredients for huge loss of lives and properties in the event of disasters such as the tsunami, which recently hit parts of Asia and Africa.

The MPs were contributing to a statement in Parliament made by Mr Kofi Poku-Adusei, NPP-Bekwai, on the implications of the effects of the tsunami and what it meant for Ghanaians.

The MP said: "Mr Speaker the tragedy that befell the people of Asia has huge lessons for us in Ghana because the catastrophe could have happened anywhere in the world.

"It is a known fact that parts of Ghana straddle earthquake fault lines, yet no effort is being made to take precautionary measures in these areas to forestall any danger to life and property if and when disaster strikes," Mr Poku-Adusei said.

He said the time had come for developed countries to show their might not by the control they had over weapons but in setting up institutions that would research and produce technology to protect human lives from catastrophes.

Dr Kwame Addo-Kufuor, Acting Minister of Defence, said the work of the Emergency Response Unit, set up by the Military in the wake of the May 2001 Stadium Disaster, would have to be revived.

He said following the Stadium Disaster, Military Personnel were trained to handle the cases and 13 ambulances and two helicopters were made available to assist the victims of the tragedy.

Dr Addo-Kufuor said given Ghana's busy airport and its earthquake prone environment, there would be the need to go back to the concept of Emergency Response Unit, to ensure prompt response to any future disaster.

Mr Edward Doe-Adjaho, NDC-Avenor, said agencies such as the Ministry of The Interior and others responsible for managing disasters should be well resourced to manage disasters.

Mr Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, Acting Minister of The Interior, said there was a national contingency plan, which was being reviewed. He said the programme would be passed on to the incoming Interior Minister.

Dr Mustapha Ahmed, NDC-Ayawaso East, urged the house to assist the victims of the Asian tsunami by contributing a hundred dollar each.

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