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07.11.2005 Regional News

NADMO boss suggests the observance of national fire day

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Ho, Nov. 7, GNA - Brigadier-General Joseph Odei, National Coordinator of the Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) has suggested the institution of a nationwide week to be observed every October during which awareness would be created on the effects of bushfires.

He said during the week, which should be marked simultaneously in every region, district and community from next year, a multi-media approach should be adopted to hype the negative effects of bushfires so as to get the message imprinted on the minds of Ghanaians to refrain from torching bushes.

Brigadier-General Odei made the suggestion in a paper delivered on his behalf at the National Stakeholders Forum on Bushfires held in Ho on Friday. It was under the theme: "Prevent Bushfires For sustainable Economic Development".

Personnel of the Fire Service, Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS), NADMO and officials of the district assemblies attended the forum, which was a prelude to the National Bush Fire Campaign to be launched at Kpando in the Volta Region on Wednesday.

Brigadier-General Odei said bushfires had become so common that it had been taken for granted as society watch recalcitrant members of the society either through negligence or deliberately set fires to bushes. He listed the Upper West, Upper East, Northern, Brong Ahafo, Volta and Greater-Accra regions as bushfire prone areas where preventive measures must be concentrated.

Brigadier-General Odei said people who are known to be starting bushfires were farmers, charcoal burners, tapers, honey makers, hunters and smokers.

Mr Emmanuel Atenga, Chief fire Officer, mentioned the replanting of forests devastated by fires, motivation of fire volunteers, media campaigns and the review of PNDC Law 229 on bushfires, as some of the measures, which could help, reduce bushfires. Mr Thomas Hyde, Volta Regional Fire Officer, who referred to bushfires as a nagging phenomenon, blamed the unusual weather pattern on the yearly bush burnings.

Mr Obed Kass-Yerenkyi, Assistant Volta Regional Manager of the Forestry Commission expressed regret that punitive measures prescribed by the law for bushfire offenders were not being enforced because of the lineage system.

"No one is prepared to be mentioned as having reported a brother, cousin, in-law or an uncle for causing a bushfire," he stated. Togbe Akliku Ahoney II, Volta Regional Project Officer of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said an estimated 210 million dollars was lost every year by the nation from havoc caused by bushfires. He held that the nation needed to do more than it was doing now to curb the incidence of bushfires, noting that countries in the temperate zone appeared more ready for fires than Ghana, a tropical country. Mr Joseph Kwaku Nayan, Deputy Volta Regional Minister urged District Assemblies to enforce bylaws on bushfires. 07 Nov 05