Buipe (N/R), May 2, GNA - The government is committed to protecting the environment and will not allow few individuals to destroy it and cause perpetual hunger and health hazard to the people. The security agencies should, therefore, apprehend all persons found devastating the environment for their selfish gains. Mr. Boniface Abubakar Saddique, Northern Regional Minister, said these in a speech read on his behalf at a meeting organised by the "Nensom Black Volta Fishing Association" (NBVFA), at Buipe in the Central Gonja District on Saturday to discuss environmental issues affecting the area.
He gave the assurance that the government would assist individuals and groups working to maintain the ecology, which was crucial for the survival of mankind.
Mr Saddique praised the traditional rulers for supporting the association's efforts at protecting water bodies in the area. He also commended the Canadian government for assisting NBVFA financially and technically through the Northern Empowerment Association (NEA).
Mr Saddique expressed worry that the vegetation in the region was being destroyed through bad farming practices and the wanton felling of trees for charcoal production.
He appealed to the people to put an end to such activities because they contributed to the drying up of water bodies and low crop yield. Mr Saddique noted that the people in the Region had always blamed their engagement in practices leading to the destruction of the environment on unemployment.
He consequently urged them to take advantage of credit and training facilities, being provided by government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to acquire employable skills.
Nana Dr. David Mensah, Director of NEA, the brainchild of NBVFA, advised opinion leaders against conniving with unscrupulous persons to destroy the environment.
He said NEA had trained 300 environmental monitors, ten each from communities along the River Black Volta to educate the people on the effects of environmental destruction on development. Dr Mensah said the group had worked to prevent the pollution of rivers in the Kimtampo District in the Brong-Ahafo Region and Central Gonja District in the Northern Region.
Mr. John Bosco Sumani, Assistant Programmed Officer of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), appealed to fishermen to refrain from using chemicals in fishing since fish from polluted water bodies could cause impotence, sterility and reduction in life expectancy. Mr. E.O. Brakatu, Northern Regional Police Commander, reminded the people that it was illegal to engage children in hazardous work such as fishing and advised the public to report offenders to the police. The Buipe-Wura, Chin Chanko Toti Saaka II, asked the people not solely rely on the environment for their livelihood and instead take advantage of assistance offered by NGOs and the government to undertake economic activities.
NBVFA monitors fishing methods and practices on water bodies in parts of the Northern Region including the Central Gonja District. This programme is to ensure that harrow net and poisonous chemicals are not used in fishing, to protect the ecosystem and the health of consumers of fish, crabs and other aquatic creatures. Chiefs, fishermen, fishmongers, members of the district assembly, representatives of the Regional Coordinating Council, the EPA, the law enforcement agencies, NGOs, among others attended the meeting.