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10.11.2005 General News

Minister calls for action to stem bushfires

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Kpando (V/R), Nov 10, GNA - Paapa Owusu Ankomah, the Minister of the Interior, has said the absence of anti-bush fire sub committees in the Metropolitan, Municipal and District assemblies (MMDA) has aggravated the high incidence of bush fire in the country. He described the phenomenon as a worrying trend since bush fire prevention and control could not be enforced effectively by the central government alone but with support of key stakeholders, principally the MMDAs.

Paapa Owusu Ankomah said this in a speech read for him at the launch of the 2005/06 national bush fire prevention campaign at Kpando on Wednesday.

He said the Interior, Local Government and Rural Development ministries would soon convene a meeting and develop a strategic and functional sub committees in all MMDAs countrywide to stem the annual bush fire menace.

The minister reminded the assemblies of their obligation to make available funds from their Common Fund to support and sustain the bush fire volunteer concept.

Paapa Owusu Ankomah said the fire volunteer concept the world over had proved to be the most effective way of combating fire disasters and that the concept would remain at the frontier of fighting and controlling bush fire.

He called for the revival of the volunteer concept to inculcate the sense of ownership in the volunteer squad in their areas of operation. "As a people we have not succeeded in combating bush fires either because we have adopted the wrong approach or that our strategies have not been effective."

Paapa Owusu Ankomah appealed to the Ghana National Fire Service, National Disaster Management Organization, Environmental Protection Agency and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to collaborate in order to chart a road map at the grass root level for those who use fire for their daily livelihood to appreciate the impact of bush fires on the national economy.

Mr Ernest Debrah, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, said in an address read for him that only a multi-sector approach to the bush fire menace would bring the situation under the barest minimum and control. He said bush fires have deprived the people of the Volta Region of major cocoa production in the past and that only a concerted effort at stemming the bush fire menace could reverse the trend.

The minister appealed to chiefs, as custodians of the land, to lead the crusade in fighting bush fires otherwise posterity would not forgive them.

Mr Kofi Dzamesi, Volta Regional Minister, said the country looses about 24 million hectares of vegetation covers annually, an equivalent to a loss of three per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). He said if this colossal loss was not checked in the next decade, "we shall as a country be faced with untold hardship".

Mr Dzamesi expressed the hope that this year's launch would trigger a real fight and seriousness in combating the menace and not one of the "window dressing" programmes.

Anti bush fire volunteers nationwide who excelled in their field received Wellington boots, cutlasses and citations worth over 75 million cedis.