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23.08.2005 General News

Committee to draft anti-littering legislation


Ho, Aug. 23, GNA - A joint ministerial committee under the auspices of the Ministry of Environment and Science is working out a draft anti-littering legislation proposals which could be adopted by district assemblies to update their bylaws on sanitation.

The committee, comprising representatives of the ministries of Local Government and Rural Development, Health and Trade is also considering a Plastic Waste Management Fund to mobilize resources for the fight against the massive build-up of plastic garbage in the country.

Miss Christine Churcher, Minister of Environment and Science said this when she opened the Senior Management Bi-Annual Review Meeting of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Ho on Tuesday. The three-day meeting is to concretise and finalize work of previous senior management workshops to develop a Strategic Action Plan for 2006 to 2010 and also draw up realistic and achievable work plans for 2006.

It is under the theme: "Compliance Enforcement For Effective Environmental Management".

Miss Churcher said legislations must be upgraded to fight the bad waste disposal and other habits that tended to denigrate the environment.

She suggested that the new strategies for fighting environmental degradation should take into consideration the dynamics of development.

Miss Churcher expressed concern that, mounting efforts to get people to adhere to more acceptable ways of protecting the environment were yielding no results and therefore asked the EPA policy and operations appraisal meeting to consider "developing a more business-friendly, conciliatory environmental enforcement strategy.

" One that does not emphasize enforcement actions and penalties as the keys to securing compliance."

The Minister asked the EPA to encourage industries to develop voluntary compliance programmes, or carry out self-policing efforts, but added, "such self-policing systems or audits should complement, not replace, your traditional enforcement activities".

Miss Churcher also suggested the promotion of "Information disclosure as a tool for compliance" since it had proved to be a potent force in motivating firms to improve environmental performance.

She asked that the EPA provided her with a monthly report on the state of compliance with environmental policies for perusal and action. The Minister charged the EPA to take immediate steps in collaboration with other agencies to check the vehicular smoke emission rate in the country before it became uncontrollable. She promised that her ministry would work to improve conditions of service of staff to prevent the high staff attrition rate at the EPA. Mr Jonathan Allotey, Executive Director of the EPA, in a statement said the agency was aware that it now had to deal with issues far more complex than before.

"Population growth and the form and manner of resources exploitation and consumption to sustain this growth are quite alarming," he stated.

Mr Allotey charged the meeting to set the right goals based on the best scientific and economic information, look for innovative ways to address high-priority environmental problems making full use of technology, market-based incentives and environmental management systems.

Mr Joseph Nayan, Deputy Volta Regional Minister, in a welcome address expressed regrets that vital recommendations of workshops, seminars and meetings were hardly implemented but left as sheets of paper in "drawers and on tables to gather dust and get eaten by cockroaches and mites."

He said deforestation, bushfires, water pollution and insanitary conditions were the main environmental problems facing the Volta Region. Mr Nayan said while the lower course of the Volta River was full of aquatic weeds, the River Oti in the northern part of the region was being threatened by water hyacinth. He called for adequate restoration programmes to halt the drying up of the Todzie, Dayi and Kalakpa rivers whose tributaries feed the river Volta.