Monday, August 31, 2009

“National Drivers’ Academy” to be established

A consultative workshop has been held in Accra to dialogue among stakeholders within the transport industry on the establishment of a National Drivers Academy. The proposed drivers’ training school is aimed at providing formal and structured training for commercial vehicle drivers to improve competence, professional ethics and general good conducts on the road to prevent possible road accidents.
The school to be known as the “National Drivers’ Academy” is an initiative of the National Road Safety Commission in collaboration with the Driver and vehicle licensing authority (DVLA) and Government Technical Training Centre(GTTC) . In the management of the school, GTTC will be the solitary managers of the institute and shall be responsible for the registration of participants, resource mobilization, training and development.
On the other hand, examination and certification will be done by the NSRC and other relevant stakeholders in accordance with the national vocational training framework and regulations. Students are to taking through vocational oriented courses and will be centre on professional ethics and road safety by seasoned road safety practitioners.
Speaking at the workshop last week, the minister of Transport commended the three institutes for their enormous initiative especially in support to road safety in the country. Mike Hammah said, “Studies revealed that human errors during driving is a major cause of road crashes representing 60% of all road accidents and also a contributing factor in over 90% of accidents, if its for these and other related reasons I commended you all for your efforts”.
Mr.Hammah urged all transports operator, union and drivers to take advantage of the opportunity of the academy to help upgrade their knowledge, skills and road user behaviour.
The Chief executive officer of the National Road safety Commission said the multi-disciplinary nature of road safety problem requires that all stakeholders should show concern and commitment. Mr. Noble Appiah reiterated that, “the multi stakeholder and multi disciplinary characteristics of road safety creates a platform for all of us to show commitment and passion towards road safety as nobody is immune to road traffic crashes” . Let’s all support programs and activities of the NRSC to enable the country achieve its strategic objectives for road safety.
Story by: Michael Amedor

Ghana steps up measures to ratify ECOWAS Small Arms Convention

Government on Friday charged the newly constituted Board of Ghana National Commission on Small Arms (NATCOM) to end the proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) in the country. "The re-constitution of NATCOM Board is an encouraging sign of Ghana's readiness to work closely with other member states of ECOWAS to reduce the proliferation of small arms, which has stifled the economic and political development of the sub-region for almost two decades," Mr Cletus Avoka, Minister of the Interior, told the new board of NATCOM in Accra."You are mandated to put in place programmes of action to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in SALW, educate and sensitise the public and provide information on the dangers of small arms in order to discourage their production," he added.Mr Avoka also charged the Board to ensure that deliberations under the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Small Arms Programme were complied with, including the ratification of the ECOWAS Convention on SALW.The Board, among other functions, is to advise the Minister on the formulation of policies and strategies as contained in the Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons and other relevant international conventions to which Ghana is a party. The Commission will receive and study periodic reports from the Ghana Police Service on the registration and licensing of arms. The Minister said the inauguration of the Board was a demonstration of the country's readiness to join forces with other sub-regional institutions and countries to collectively address the small arms menace.The 14-member Board is chaired by Lieutenant Colonel Ohene Asare (Rtd) and includes Colonel K. Appiah Agyapong and Lt Col. Charles Agyemang Prempeh both of the Ghana Armed Forces. Others are Mr Baffour Dokyi Amoa, President of the West African Action Network on Small Arms (WAANSA); Ms Nana Antwiwaa Dodoo, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Mr Kwaku Ohene Agyei, Ministry of the Interior; and Ms Gertrude Aikins, the Attorney General's Department. The rest are Mr John Dogbe, National Security Council; District Commissioner of Police (DCOP) Frank Adu Poku and DCOP John Kudalor, the Ghana Police Service; Mr Moses K. Gyamfi Ghana Immigration Service and Major Nicholas Darbo (rtd) CEPS. Squadron Leader Atta Egyir Fynn Mends and Commissioner of Police (COP) Mrs Jane Donkor (rtd) are Government's nominees.

Vodafone: New dismissal list on Tommorrow

Workers of Vodafone Ghana are living in fear and anxiety as Tuesday,1st September, 2009 approaches.The day, tagged ‘Judgment Day’ by the workers, would see the release of the list of the next batch of workers to be affected by the compulsory redundancy package put together by the management of the company.At almost all the offices of the telecommunication company, workers could be seen discussing the likely outcome of the release, the people likely to be affected and the effects of being unemployed.The facial expression depicts a combination of fear, anxiety and despair, with some of them praying for the day to come quickly for them to know their fate. What makes the day more dreadful is the fact that no criteria have been set for selecting those to be affected; as a result, it is difficult to predict who is to be affected.It is therefore at the whims and caprices of the top management members to determine who qualifies or not, as there are not performance assessment modalities in the company to evaluate the contribution of individual workers to the overall output of the company.In despair, some of the workers have started preparing themselves for the worst, even though they don’t know who is going to be on the list. To them, it is better to prepare for the worst, that when it comes, one does not get shocked; if the best comes, then one has to thank his God.Less than a year after taking over the ownership of the only state-own communication network, Vodafone Ghana, finding the number of workers too high for the achievement of set targets, has through high-handed compulsory means succeeded in sending home 1,900 workers.Initially, 864 workers were disposed of under a voluntary package of three-month salary for each year of service in the company. An additional 78 workers also found their way out through the same package.However, having failed to convince more workers to follow suite, Vodafone is now applying rough tactics to forcefully retire more members of staff under a compulsory redundancy scheme. Some staff have been targeted and barring any last minute intervention, more workers would exit Vodafone in next few months. However, a section of the workers and the public believe that the exercise is aimed at ensuring the comfort of some top management members, some of whom are lodging in hotels and taking home fat salaries at a high cost to the company, which could not make profit last year.The Daily Democrat can state categorically that the Villagio Hotel at the Airport Area, close to the house of former President Kufuor, is host to some of them. Stay tuned.
Source:Ghanaian Democrat

CRIG to facilitate poverty reduction in cocoa growing areas

The Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG)on Saturday said it would facilitate poverty reduction programmes among populations in cocoa growing areas. It is therefore facilitating the promotion of more profitable ways of preparing "alata samina" also called "alata soap, throughout the cocoa growing areas.Dr Jemmy Takrama, Senior Research Officer of CRIG, said this at a workshop for women groups in the Kadjebi, Jasikan and Akpafu areas of the Volta Region, on new ways of making "alata samina." He said the new ways which was an improved version of the traditional method would help the women make more profits. The Rural Enterprises Project of the National Board for Small-Scale Industries (NBSSI) collaborated in the programme, which is funded by the World Cocoa Foundation.Dr Takrama said similar workshops had been organized for women in the Western, Brong-Ahafo and Central Regions and that the aim of CRIG was for people in the cocoa production areas to put cocoa by-products to good use. Dr Takrama, who is also the Project Coordinator, said the women were being trained in packaging and costing too.

Friday, August 28, 2009

NPP stalwarts exchange blows

Blows were exchanged between two New Patriotic Party (NPP) stalwarts at the studios of Asempa FM on the station’s current affairs program, Ekosii Sen, yesterday, when tempers flared on certain pronouncements that bothered on the recent delegates conference of the party where major portions of the party’s constitution were amended.Michael Ampong, a youth activist of the party, had strong reservations about an article written by Mahama Haruna, a former presidential correspondent of the Statesman Newspaper, published on Ghana Web and the Thursday August 27, 2009 edition of the Ghanaian Lens Newspaper.The article, which became the subject of controversy, alluded to the fact that former President Kufuor and Alan Kyeremanten sponsored some supporters of the NPP to vote against the amendments of the NPP’s constitution.According to Mahama Haruna, those who lost that vote were not in tune with the pulse of the party.Michael Ampong, on the other hand, replied that Huruna's assertions were irresponsible.This incensed Mahama Haruna, resulting in a confrontation between the two NPP members; Haruna therefore threw a blow at Michael Ampong who had then held his shirt.Producers and other staff of Asempa FM had to rush to the studio to stop what had then degenerated into hefty fist cuffs.Listeners will recall events prior to the emergency conference of the NPP were characterized by sharp opinions on whether the party had to adopt the then proposed amendments which were ultimately accepted by the delegates.
Source:Kwadwo Asare-Baffour Acheampong/Asempa FM

142 APRM oversight committees inaugurated so far- Prof.Greenstreet

A member of the African Peer Review Mechanism Governing Council (APRM-GC), has formally inaugurated additional new APRM district oversight committees in Accra. Prof.Miranda Greentstreet who did the inauguration on Wednesday said “the inauguration of additional four district oversight committees today with each district constituting nine members will total the number to 142 with already 138 inaugurated”.
The need for the oversight committees is to make sure Government is fulfilling the National Plan of Action of the APRM at the grass root level and to also serve as watch dog since members at the National level cannot over see the participatory process. “This will make the process more technically participatory and non partisan, to help bring more on board”.
Prof.Greenstreet further added that, with the inauguration of the Accra Metro ,Ga east, Adenta municipal and Ga South districts, Ghana was moving forward steadily to achieving the targeted goals of the APRM National Plan of Action which was drafted after Ghana was peer reviewed in Sudan. “This plan of action was later drafted onto the GPRS program, in view of this it was possible that not all the targeted goals of the plan may be achieved”.
She reiterated that, it was important for fair selection of representatives to the committees in terms of gender to help address all concerns. Selected members were charged to live up to expectation and report fairly whatever happens at the grass root level to further help members at the National level to help meet targeted goals.
APRM is a self monitoring assessment mechanism adopted by African Heads of State to be peer review themselves. 16 members including Ghana signed to the APRM treaty also including countries such as Uganda, Benin, Mali and Burkina Faso among others. Ghana was peer reviewed in Sudan on January 2006.
Story: Michael F. Amedor

Mills to attend South America-Africa summit

President John Evans Atta Mills has accepted an invitation from the Venezuelan President, Mr Hugo Chavez, to attend the second South America-Africa Summit to be held in that country. Its aim is to advance development cooperation between the two continents.The President confirmed his participation in the summit when a special envoy of Mr Chavez, Madam Reina M. Arratia, called on him at the Castle, Osu, on Thursday to brief him on the upcoming summit to be held later in the year.Receiving Madam Raina, who is also the her country's Ambassador to Benin, President Mills expressed gratitude to Mr Chavez for being a trail blazer in championing closer political and economic collaboration between the two continents to enable them to chart a common course for development.He said Ghana intended to forge closer links with Venezuela in a number of areas with the intention of promoting dialogue and strengthening cooperation for the mutual benefit of the people of the two countries.President Mills was particularly gratified about the willingness of Mr Chavez to serve as a torchbearer in instigating ideas that can help the people of both continents to overcome their underdevelopment, saying Ghana would be fully represented at the summit in view of the anticipated impact it would make on the nation's development agenda.Madam Raina said the Venezuelan government valued its relationship with Ghana in view of the enormous development strides it was making, noting that the summit would serve as another trajectory in deepening the relations between the two countries in the economic and political spheres.The summit, she said, would bring people of diverse backgrounds to brainstorm on the way forward in promoting economic development on both continents within the context of south-south cooperation.This, she explained, would enable governments on both continents to engage their people in addressing common political, social and economic challenges that confront not only the individual nations but also the entire world.

Maiden Pool Tournament in Accra ends in a grand style

The Stone/Yfm Pool Tournament 2009 drew to a close last Saturday at Jokers night club, with 25 year old Emeka Chukwudi emerging the winner. Saturday’s final was the culmination of three weeks of competitive pool played in pubs in Accra and Tema, including 8-Ball pub, Pool Bar, Neighbourhood Pub, Baze Lounge and Vanity night club.
Eight finalists from the competing pubs faced each other for the crowning of the champion of champions. The finalists reflected the cultural diversity of Accra, with the line up including a Liberian, a Nigerian and a national of Hong Kong. Twenty four year old Ruth Annang, a salsa instructor in her spare time, and a member of Pepsi’s sales team, proved to be a sensation but was eventually kicked out by Lawrence Tetteh.
The final game between Emeka Chukwudi and Rufus Earley was a tense affair, but Emeka prevailed to win the first prize of a pool table, and a 42 inch Haier Thermacool plasma screen donated by PZ electricals. Other prizes donated by PZ for the finalists include mobile phones, a home theatre system, and a lap-top.
Naomi Nelson, Client Relations Manager at Yfm, said that, the station staged the competition with its partners to promote the game of pool in Ghana. “As you know, Yfm is the foremost youth station in the capital, and the purpose of this successful event was to support a sport which is very popular among our audience, but neglected by most sponsors. For this reason, we are very grateful to Accra Brewery Ltd and PZ Electricals, who were our major supporters”.
The night ended with a packed after-party, hosted by Yfm Programmes Manager/Presenter, Nana Kwame Osei Sarpong and Kandyman. Artistes on the bill included Bob Skinny, Macho Rapper, Ayigbe Edem and the irrepressible Trigmatic.
George Eddah, Brands Manager for Stone Beer said that his brand was proud to be associated with the event, and revealed that a nation-wide inter-university pool tournament would soon be launched in association with Yfm.
Source:Brooke Nuwati/Global Media Alliance.

Use technology to address nation's challenges - GTUC President

Dr Osei K. Darkwa, President of the Ghana Telecom University College (GTUC), on Thursday urged policy makers to prioritise the use of technology to address the needs and challenges of the nation.He said any nation which failed to maximize the power of technology would be left behind in the global developmental agenda. Dr Darkwa was speaking at the closing of Tech Camp 2009 organized by GTUC for both senior and junior secondary students in Accra. The six-week course was to expose participants to a wide range of computing skills and information technology to give them hands-on experience with emerging technology and channel their energies to the solution of puzzling information technology challenges. Dr Darkwa also announced that GTUC had partnered Omatek Ghana Limited, a local computer manufacturing company, to set up a Technology Centre at the GTUC campus where students would be given practical knowledge into the assembling and manufacturing of computers. He said the technology course would start in January, 2010 and urged parents to enrol their children in these specialized lessons. Dr Darkwa also stated that GTUC intended to decentralize the Tech Camp programme to the other regions and as such they were collaborating with the National Youth Council (NYC) to use their training centres for the camping.He said the next level of the Tech Camp meeting would focus on the application of the technologies acquired by the participants to the benefit of their communities.Mr George Adorshie, University and International Relations Officer, said the Tech Camp was carefully tailored to equip the students with the 'tools' to face the challenges of today's knowledge based global system.He said the camp also afforded the participants the opportunity to tour some institutions where the computing skills and technology they acquired were being applied. Mr Adorshie encouraged the participants continuously practise the skills that they had learnt and share their experiences with friends who could not take part in the camp.

Use technology to address nation's challenges - GTUC President

Dr Osei K. Darkwa, President of the Ghana Telecom University College (GTUC), on Thursday urged policy makers to prioritise the use of technology to address the needs and challenges of the nation.He said any nation which failed to maximize the power of technology would be left behind in the global developmental agenda. Dr Darkwa was speaking at the closing of Tech Camp 2009 organized by GTUC for both senior and junior secondary students in Accra. The six-week course was to expose participants to a wide range of computing skills and information technology to give them hands-on experience with emerging technology and channel their energies to the solution of puzzling information technology challenges. Dr Darkwa also announced that GTUC had partnered Omatek Ghana Limited, a local computer manufacturing company, to set up a Technology Centre at the GTUC campus where students would be given practical knowledge into the assembling and manufacturing of computers. He said the technology course would start in January, 2010 and urged parents to enrol their children in these specialized lessons. Dr Darkwa also stated that GTUC intended to decentralize the Tech Camp programme to the other regions and as such they were collaborating with the National Youth Council (NYC) to use their training centres for the camping.He said the next level of the Tech Camp meeting would focus on the application of the technologies acquired by the participants to the benefit of their communities.Mr George Adorshie, University and International Relations Officer, said the Tech Camp was carefully tailored to equip the students with the 'tools' to face the challenges of today's knowledge based global system.He said the camp also afforded the participants the opportunity to tour some institutions where the computing skills and technology they acquired were being applied. Mr Adorshie encouraged the participants continuously practise the skills that they had learnt and share their experiences with friends who could not take part in the camp.

PIC launches Life Assurance Company and three others

Provident Insurance Company Limited on Thursday launched its Life Assurance Company dubbed "ProvidentLife" and three new products to give its clients a wider variety of services. The products, ProvidentLife Educator Plan, ProvidentLife International Travel Health Insurance, and 50 Plus Security Plan are tailored to suit the current needs of the society.Ms Josephine Amoah, Commissioner at the National Insurance Commission (NIC), launching the products, said the market needed more of such innovative products, and advised life insurers to stay away from complex financial products and try to keep them very simple. She said not only are simple products easier for policy holders to understand, but the risks involved are also better understood by the insurers themselves, and therefore better managed."One such simple product which I would urge life insurers to consider is micro-insurance. Through micro-insurance, the industry can reach the low income sector of the population which has hitherto not been targeted by our insurers."If the products are packaged in such a way as to make the premiums affordable, and if the contract wordings are made brief, easily understandable and with just a few exclusions, they will have a greater appeal to the low income and rural households," she added. Ms Amoah said micro-insurance had a great potential and if handled properly could be an effective tool for mobilizing funds from the informal sector.The Commissioner advised that companies should focus on keeping their costs low, use convenient and well trusted delivery channels, and establish links with financial and other services which had wider distribution networks in order to make micro-insurance commercially viable. She announced that the Commission was working in collaboration with the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) on a number of initiatives which would create an enabling environment for micro-insurance business to thrive in the country.Lt. General Joseph Henry Smith, Minister of Defence, who was the immediate past Chairman of the NIC Board, said the landscape of the insurance industry had changed over the years with various initiatives by the government and the NIC to support the industry in many ways. Those initiatives, he said, culminated in the growth and expansion of the industry.He said one major initiative was the promulgation of the Insurance Act, 2006 (Act 724), which aimed at ensuring that insurance companies were adequately capitalized and observing good corporate governance principles in order to ensure adequate protection for insurance policyholders.Act 724 also required that life and non-life insurance activities should be separated and handled under autonomous Boards and managements. Lt Gen. Smith said the rationale for the separation of life and non-life business was to make it possible for the necessary attention to be given to the life business to enable it to grow and contribute effectively to national development through mobilization of long term funds.He noted that the intense competition within the financial services sector had contributed to the creation of new innovative products to the delight of both corporate and individual clients, and commended ProvidentLife Assurance Company Limited for the innovations. He said the task of bringing insurance to the doorsteps of Ghanaians had become even more pertinent now than ever, and expressed the hope that with those products the company would map out effective strategies to meet the expectations of both the existing and potential clients. Mr Wilson Tei, Managing Director, ProvidentLife, said life assurance policy created and accumulated money for one's needs during his lifetime and after death, and urged the public to patronize the products.He said with the international travel health insurance, the company teamed up with SOS International to give the best package and services to their clients. "We strive for transparency; we strive for efficiency and we assure peace of mind," he said.

Gay Party In Takoradi

About two hundred suspected homosexuals have held two separate birthday parties in Sekondi-Takoradi.The first party, held at the Takoradi Shippers’ Council Hall was strictly by invitation while the second was at the Last Hour Beach Resort.As Kweku Owusu Peprah of Radio Max narrated, he managed to enter the venue after explaining at the gate that he was invited but had forgotten his invitation card at home.According to him, he was shocked upon seeing the way men had adorned themselves and were flirting with each other.He said some of the men were holding ladies bags and purses and wore tight jeans and equally tight T-Shirts, while others were also in anklets and silky wrappers tied to their waists.“I was amazed at what I saw…A young man joined me at the table and after sitting for a few minutes, he pulled out a handbag with a make-up pack and started applying the make-up just as the women do. At this point I could not stay any longer, so I quietly walked out,” Owusu Peprah revealed.According to him, investigations have revealed that most of the gay men at the party have female sex partners and are gays “only for commercial reasons”. Some, he said, are actually bread winners of their families.Commenting on the issue, Dr. Ronald Sowah of the Efia-Nkwanta Regional Hospital said a situation where gays keep female sex partners poses a threat to their health since they and their partners are equally vulnerable to STDs.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Public debt now US$7.841.3 million

Ghana's public debt now stand at US$7,841.3 million, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, Minister of Finance said on Tuesday. "Ghana's public debt stood at about US$8,073.3 million as at the end December, 2008 in spite of the substantial debt relief from both our multilateral and bilateral partners, he said."As a result of prudence in management of loans, we have reduced the stock of debt to US$7,841.3 million as at end June, 2009," he told Parliament during the presentation of a supplementary budget. The budget, intended to seek Parliamentary approval for more state funds to run the economy, reviews the performance of the economy between January and June 2009.Dr. Duffuor said even though Government had contracted loans during the six-month period, the borrowing had been driven more by need and financial prudence, adding that most of the loans had been secured on concessionary terms.The Minister also reported that overall budget balance, including divestiture, amounted to a deficit of GH¢965.4 million, equivalent to 4.5 percent of GDP, against a target deficit of GH¢1,400.3 million, equivalent to 6.5 percent of GDP.The outturn compares with a deficit equivalent to 5.8 percent of GDP recorded during the corresponding period in 2008. He noted that there was equally a marked improvement in domestic effort in budget implementation, indicating that the nation's finance was now in skilful hands."The domestic primary balance for the period under review, January to June 2009, was a deficit equivalent to 0.8 percent of GDP, against a target of 3.2 percent of GDP."The outturn compares with a deficit of 3.6 percent of GDP recorded during the corresponding period in 2008."This indicates much improvement in the domestic effort in budget implementation, a clear indication that the nation's finances are now in skilful hands," he said.Dr Duffuor said the overall budget deficit including divestiture, was financed from both domestic and foreign sources, adding that Net Domestic Financing of the budget amounted to GH¢634.2 million, equivalent to 2.9 percent of GDP compared to 3.8 percent of GDP for the same period in 2008."Financing from foreign sources totalled GH¢331.2 million, equivalent to 1.5 per cent of GDP," he said.


Vodafone Ghana opened its first ever Golf Tourney at the Achimota Golf course in Accra. The match which was fully sponsored by Vodafone Ghana, will be reciprocated as an annual event as done by their antecedent Ghana Telecommunication company. The event which took off this last weekend brought together about 200 golfers and non golf players to witness the match. Speaking at the event, the Chief Technology Officer of Vodafone Ghana Mr. Tony Dolton said, it was the great pleasure of his outfit as a new company in the country to continue with the good works of former Ghana Telecom in terms of sports and most particularly Golf and pledged total support of hosting the Golf tourney annually as it was been done. “Yes Vodafone has the right passion for sports but not only Golf, we ready to help project all forms of sports in Ghana”.
Mr. Dolton further added that, Vodafone will do all kinds of sports as it has done in England and Rugby in South Africa and among other countries where it operates. “We encourage everybody to get associated to play the Golf game”. He said the tourney was also important to us because it served as platform for interact among customers.
The President of the Achimota Golf Club, Captain Mike Aggrey thanked Vodafone for opening the annually tourney at the Achimota Golf Course. “Our doors are open to you all to help in the development of sports in Ghana.” He thanked all who participated in the match. The overall winner of the game went to Mr. Doe Viva with 43 stable points and Mrs.Yaa Konadu Sarfo-Debrah who won in the ladies division and Ayesa Ale winning for the professional division. All winners were awarded trophy, cash prizes and Vodafone branded products.
Source: Michael Amedor

Plans underway to modernise railway system - Hammah

Mr Mike Hammah, Minister for Transport on Tuesday said plans were underway to modernise the railway system to enhance operations of the sector.He said under the plans, a modern signal and telecommunication system would be installed and the existing gauge converted from 1067 millimetres to 1435 millimetres with an increase speed from 56 kilometres per hour to 160 kilometres per hour. Speaking at the Meet-The-Press series in Accra to highlight the projections and challenges of the Ministry, Mr Hammah said the axle load would also be increased from 16 tonnes on the Western Line and 14 tonnes on Eastern and Central Lines to 25 tonnes. He said in the medium to long term, there would be feasibility study for the new sub-urban rail service from Accra to Kasoa, Winneba, Madina and its environs as well as expansion of rail lines to the North and the proposed ECOWAS line.Others are, rehabilitation works on the main lines, detailed designs and construction of the Tema-Akosombo multimodal freight services would also be undertaken. Mr Hammah announced that government had provided two million dollars for intervention on the Western Line to make it operational as part of the immediate to short term plans. He said the Accra-Tema Shuttle Service would be completed and locomotives and rolling stock rehabilitated to ease the traffic congestion in the metropolis.Mr Hammah said poor track infrastructure, obsolete signal and telecommunication system; inadequate and aged rolling stock, high incidence of derailment; and high and ageing labour were challenges facing Ghana's railway sector.Others, he said, included government monthly support for payment of salary, encroachment of railway lands and uncompleted sub-urban railway lines.Mr Hammah said with the exception of partial operations on the Western Line and the sub-urban rail services, the other lines in the Eastern and Central were not operational and stressed the need to rehabilitate them to ensure effective and smooth operations. He said the country's railway network of 947 kilometres, which were mostly single track rail of 1.067 metres (3.6") gauge were located in the Southern part of the country.Mr Hammah said with the exception of the 30-kilometre Takoradi-Manso section, which was double track, the rest of the network were distributed on a single track system and the need for the expansion of the sub-urban railway systems to areas like Dansoman, La, Teshie,

NPP Guru Blasts Alan & Nana Boys

Says they have nothing to offer elephant to capture power
The Subin constituency chairman of the NPP Alhaji Abdul Baba has noted that the struggle by the party to recapture power in 2012 would be an elusive dream if the perceived factionalism that exists among the supporters of stalwarts Alan Kyeremateng and Nana Akufo Addo is not promptly addressed.Alhaji Baba noted that, the perceived factionalism in the camp of the two stalwarts of the Party is a potential threat to their efforts to wrestle power from the NDC come 2012.The Subin Constituency Chairman said this during an interview with THE SUN at the weekend and stressed that, most Ghanaians are already fed up to the back teeth with the economic hardships they have experienced for the past eight months of the Prof. JEA Mills administration. According to him, they were therefore longing for the return of the NPP and as a result the Party needs unity to marshal all arsenals to wrestle power from the ruling government. He noted that the way some supporters of the two leading members of the party were behaving ever since the party went into opposition has made him believe that they have nothing at stake to offer the party to win power. The constituency chairman prayed that the supporters of the party, particularly those belonging to the two camps will bury their selfish aims and seek means of propagating the agenda of the party, instead of individuals.'We need to work in oneness to enable us to achieve the feat of dethroning the NDC because, the NPP has good policies for Ghanaians than any other political party,' he said.Alhaji Baba lauded the MP for his constituency Hon. Isaac Osei for his selfless efforts to make the constituency one of the best in terms of educational infrastructure.He said the MP has through his own resources purchased street lights for the installation in some sensitive areas in the constituency to strengthen security.Alhaji Baba was happy that, Hon. Osei is the only MP within the Kumasi Metropolis who has initiated a public platform on quarterly basis known as 'Meet Your MP', to brief the constituents on what transpires in parliament.'I wish all MPS would emulate the good steps by Hon. Osei to enlighten their people on activities of parliament, for their constituents to be informed and understand the position of the party', he said.
Source:THE SUN

Rawlings Is Too Narcissistic —Pratt

The Managing Editor of the Insight newspaper, Kwesi Pratt Jnr, today subjected former president Rawlings to perhaps his greatest tongue-lashing yet, for his constant criticisms of President John Evans Atta Mills' leadership style. According to Pratt, the Ex-Prez, “is completely getting out of hand with his unwarranted verbal abuse on Prez Mills and needs to be advised by his close confidants.”Ex-Prez Rawlings is reported to have told a meeting of the United Cadres Front (UCF), a youth wing of the NDC in Kumasi at the weekend, that “there is disillusion among the people due to the governing style of President Mills which lacks a revolutionary spirit.” “Is he calling for the same revolutionary zeal that prevailed in ’79 and ’82? If that is what he is asking for then who will vote for the NDC? I tell you, no-one will vote for the NDC again. The NDC shall always be last,” he strongly averred.Mr Pratt continued, “Again, Rawlings said, that Prez Mills is slow in arresting and prosecuting former gov’t officials in the NPP Administration. But is that how citizens are arrested? That you are not charged with any offence, not tried by the courts and yet imprisoned? Then, let me say, that I know Prez Mills too well that he will not go in for that revolutionary governing style,” he quipped.The Insight newspaper Managing Editor, also chided the ex-prez for allegedly saying he(Rawlings) is allowing the sitting President some time but that he (Rawlings) might run out of tolerance. “If he runs out of patience, what can he do, will he attempt a coup d’état or will he fight Ghanaians? He should give us a break. The time has come for us to let him know that Ghana belongs to all of us and we won’t allow this kind of narcissism anymore … If you don’t share the same opinion or agree with someone, why, that is okay, Does that call for issuing threats?” he inquired.He recounted several instances where he felt the former president over-stepped the boundary of proprietary, most especially, when he allegedly denigrated Ghana’s first President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah's contribution in the attainment of independence as “flag and anthem independence”. “Who does he think he is and what kind of person is he though? Even 90% of those he planned the 1981 coup with, have not been spared his vituperations. He has insulted Tsikata, he doesn’t like the Ahwoi’s, he doesn’t like Totobi Quakyi, P.V. Obeng and others, why…what does he want from us (Ghanaians)?” he asked.Still firing on all cylinders at former President Rawlings, the outspoken social commentator, talked off how, at a recent meeting of former African Leaders this year, called at the behest of the German government, Ex-Prez Rawlings angrily said “I thought you were inviting men of integrity, I didn’t know you were inviting thieves like Kufuor.” This statement, Mr Pratt said, did not even go down well with the Prez of Mozambique, who called him to order.“Why, if you have a problem with your successor, is that how you go about it, by voicing it out openly among statesmen in Germany?...“In three years of his (Rawlings’) administration, look at the number of State Owned Enterprises that were sold by his gov’t, with nearly 300,000 workers being laid off… I cannot understand this thing, what’s wrong with this man?” he said.

Asantehene to attend second Bonn Conference in Germany

Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Asantehene, leaves for North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, on August 25 to attend the 2nd Bonn Conference on International Development Policy. The two-day conference under the theme "New impulses for development Co-operation between Federal States, Regions and Local Authorities" would discuss regional and local development cooperation between sub-Sahara Africa and Europe.Otumfuo Osei Tutu and German President Horst Kohler are among high profile personalities who would address the conference that is expected to attract the participation of more than 500 decision makers and international experts in science, economics and politics. A statement signed by Mr G.B. Osei-Antwi, the Media Relations Manager, Manhyia Palace, said the Asantehene would be accompanied by a seven-member delegation.The conference would provide the platform for further strengthening of partnership between Ghana and North-Rhine Westphalia for implementation of projects in renewable energy, health and education among others.Ghana and North-Rhine Westphalia signed a partnership agreement in November 2007 for economic co-operation.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Newmont sets record straight on its acquired environmental permit to mine at Ajenua Bepo and nullify spillage of cyanide into water bodies in Ahafo

As WACAM agitates; “We are reiterating that, the objectives of protecting our water bodies and most especially stand against mining in forest reserves and government should revoke the environmental permit provided to Newmont to mine in Ajenua Bepo Forest reserves which serves as watershed”.

With Wacam’s agitation that, Government should revoke the environmental permit provided to Newmont Ghana Gold Limited to mine at the Ajenua Bepo in Akyem in the Eastern region, the outfit has clearly stated its intention of not allowing any negative mining practices and illegitimate land acquisition in Ajenua Bepo to breach the legitimate mining code of Ghana to further cause peril to inhabitants.
Delving into the excite of the non- Governmental Organization, the Communications manager of Newmont Ghana Gold Limited Adiki Ayitevie disclosed to The Ghanaian Reactor Online that, negotiations started way back when the National Democratic Congress was in power before the New Patriotic party had come into office and it was until 9 February, 2009 that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) permitted them to mine in that area. The EPA authorized Newmont to back fill its pit and reduce the size of pit before permitted to operate. The forest reserve which is highly degraded at ‘‘condition 4’’ was set aside by Ghana Government for other purposes such as farming and mining among others.
She further stated that, farming activities had already started on the forest reserved land before, 12.7 hectares out of 569hectres at the southern boundary of the forest reserve was allocated to Newmont to mine this year. Already “galamsay” operators have also begun their activities on the land which according to her had high negative effects such as bad management of the land and non payment of tax to Government. It was some of these reasons that Ghana Government saw the need of giving that land to more efficient mining firms in the country and fortunately Newmont was chosen and certified to mine.
The Communications Manager said mining activities had not yet started, but all it was doing now is the education of community folks on environmental impacts among others. With feasibility studies on the new site it is likely that about 1,700 farm lands and 247 houses within the Akyem area will be affected, in view of that Newmont will be paying due compensations to affected inhabitants. And when affected persons are not happy, the various committees setup to address such challenges in terms of compensation among others would be made available to them such as the grievance resolution and negotiation committees, crop negotiations committees among others to take the issue and any one was still not convinced could seek redress at the court. This action she believed will help balance the status scope of all affected persons.
With other allegations such as the spillage of cyanide into the various water bodies in the operation fields of Newmont in Ahafo, Adikie debunked the false allegation and tasked any one with doubt to visit the Ahafo site in Sunyani to readily witness the good works Newmont Ghana was doing in terms of protection of water bodies and other corporate social responsibilities it was providing for the community.
Story by Michael Father Amedor

Adom fm journalist brutalized at NPP conference

A female journalist was brutalized by members of ex-president Kufuor’s security guard during the recent NPP special congress at the Trade Fair Centre in Acccra. Efua Pokua, the Adom FM reporter, was heckled and dragged on the floor by the bodyguards when she tried to interview the ex-president at a conference held by the New Patriotic Party over the weekend.Meanwhile, the ex-president’s spokesperson, Frank Agyekum, has expressed regret over the incident and apologized.According to him, he did not witness the incident but was informed about it by some of the ex-president’s bodyguards. Hence, he approached the journalist in question and apologized to her.“I was told by some of the ex-president’s bodyguards that a reporter had been brutalized by a man of their own…They showed me who she was, then I went up there and talked to her and I apologized”.He, however, noted that even the security guards were not happy about how their colleague mistreated the journalist, adding, “I also believe that it’s not good for security people to manhandle journalists in such a manner”.

“Save a life with a text message” campaign launched.

The National Road Safety Commission together with the Driver and Vehicle licensing Authority of Ghana has formally launched the “save a life with a text message” campaign. The campaign involves the sending of road safety awareness information to mobile phone users to put them on alert on what could endanger their lives. This is simply done by sending a text word “SAFE” to short code “1947” to all mobile networks in Ghana. This message will attract a sum amount of GH¢ 1 to help save a life. Speaking at the launch last week in Accra, the Road Safety Ambassador Bice Osei Kufuor also known in the music industry as “Obour” urged every body to take part in this noble campaign to help save a life. “With GH ¢ 1 you could save a breadwinner, you could save your kids, siblings and relatives and could also embrace safety as your responsibility too”.
Obour disclosed that ironically the lead agency responsible for such things does not get a decent fraction of the state resources required to deliver safe road safety therefore road safety should be a shared responsibility. “I continue to play my part and its time to contribute to your own safety.” The Chief Executive Officer of the Road Safety Commission Mr. Noble Appiah said the economic loss of road accidents as a result of medical bills, loss productive hours out of disability among others to the state amounted to $165million representing about 1.6% of the growth domestic product in 2006. “These figures are alarming and we need to be more alert on the road to prevent possible road accidents to help channel such moneys into other productive engagements in the country such as education, industry among others to help develop the country.” He urged all to take the campaign more seriously to help eliminate careless and preventable accidents on the road through the new safety campaign.
Story: Michael Amedor

Nigeria Deports Islamists To Ghana

Nigeria police have broken up an Islamic community in the western part of the country and deported dozens of its members to avert any repeat of violence in which about 800 people were killed last month, state officials said yesterday.
Nigerian immigration officials deported some 100 members over the weekend to Ghana and Niger after they were found to be non-citizens. Those found to be Nigerians were sent back to their home states.
Police said no criminal charges were brought against any members.
The police moved on the Darul Islam community on the edge of Mokwa town earlier this month, detaining hundreds of members after reports the group was forcibly holding women to be wives.
Niger State officials said they feared the community could have evolved into a violent group like the radical Islamic sect Boko Haram, which clashed with security forces last month hundreds of kilometres away in northeastern Maiduguri. While the two groups are not known to be directly linked, the authorities suspect they share similar beliefs.
Darul Islam had an estimated 1,300 members, some of whom crossed into Nigeria from Niger.

Some NDC Ministers Are Hypocrites -Ex-president Rawlings

Ex-President Rawlings has once again descended on President John Atta Mills' governing style and has described it as "slow and unrevolutionary."Delivering a speech in Kumasi on Saturday, the former President sent a message to the President to get on his toes and put things in their right direction.According to him, the governing style of President Mills is causing disillusion among the people and if something is not done about it, it will be difficult for the party to regain power in 2012.He made these comments on a platform at a conference organized by the United Cadres Front (UCF), a youth wing of the NDC.Expressing his disappointment, the former President added that he is not happy with the pace at which President Mills is dealing with and investigating the killers of Alhaji Mobilla and former government officials who allegedly mismanaged the country’s affairs.Speaking on PeaceFM, the spokesperson for the former President, Mr. Kofi Adams, revealed that his boss, among other things also cautioned the government not to be too happy about the fraudulent acts being unearth by the Ghana@50 Commission of Enquiry, claiming the NPP government has more evil down their sleeves, so they should uncover and arrest them instead of jubilating.Touching on quality of the current ministers, Mr Adamas said, the former president believes some of them are not qualified, claiming they are hypocrites, but President Mills went ahead to give them positions.

Coroner says Jackson died from lethal dose of propofol

Pop star Michael Jackson died from a lethal dose of the powerful anesthetic propofol given in a cocktail of drugs, leading authorities to suspect his doctor of manslaughter, court documents showed on Monday.
The "Thriller" singer suffered cardiac arrest and died on June 25 at age 50. Since then, an investigation by state and federal agencies have focused on Conrad Murray, Jackson's personal doctor who was at his bedside the day he died.
The findings, contained in a warrant to search Murray's home and offices, paint a picture of an insomniac pop star who could not sleep without heavy medication. Jackson sought out propofol -- routinely used to sedate patients and anesthetize them before surgeries such as a colonoscopy -- and called it his "milk."
"The Los Angeles Chief Medical Examiner-Coroner, Dr. (Lakshmanan) Sathyavagiswaran, indicated that he had reviewed the preliminary toxicology results and his preliminary assessment of Jackson's cause of death was due to lethal levels of propofol (diprivan)," according to a warrant to search Murray's offices issued by California.
The document was unsealed and released by the Harris County District Clerk in Houston, where Murray has an office. U.S. agents raided the office on July 22.
In an affidavit seeking the warrant, Houston police officer E.G. Chance said U.S. agents had gathered "items constituting evidence of the offense of manslaughter that tend to show that Dr. Conrad Murray committed the said criminal offense."
Murray's attorney, Ed Chernoff, was not available to comment.
In a statement, a representative said Jackson's family has "full confidence in the legal process, and commends the ongoing efforts of the L.A. County Coroner, the L.A. District Attorney and the L.A. Police Department."
Murray, who was with Jackson on June 25 administering drugs to ease the pop star to sleep, gave him a range of medication including a 25-milligram dose of propofol via an intravenous drip at 10:40 a.m. PDT, the state search warrant said.
Jackson was "very familiar" with propofol and referred to it as his "milk" because of its milky appearance, the warrant said. Murray, who had been treating Jackson for about six weeks leading up to his death, was worried that Jackson was addicted to propofol. Murray was trying to wean him off the drug by giving him smaller doses, it said.
Jason Hymes, an assistant clinical professor at the University of Southern California who is not associated with the case, said the drug was a true anesthetic. "You administer it to somebody and then operate on them ... This concept of giving somebody a general anesthetic for sleep disturbance strikes me as just bizarre and astoundingly inappropriate."
In the early hours of June 25, Murray also gave Jackson doses of anti-anxiety medications Valium and Ativan and sedative Versed, the filing said.
Jackson went to sleep after Murray gave him the propofol, and Murray stayed by his side for about 10 minutes, then left "to go to the restroom and relieve himself," the search warrant said.
Murray was out of Jackson's room for about 2 minutes and when he returned, Jackson was no longer breathing, the warrant said.

Source: Reuters

Ghana recorded 22,541 HIV/AIDS cases last year

Mr Kwame Brefo-Boateng, Tema Metropolitan HIV/AIDS Focal Person, on Tuesday said that 22,541 new HIV/AIDS infections, comprising 9,996 males and 12,545 females were recorded nationwide last year.He said that 18,082 AIDS related deaths made up of 8,080 males and 10,001 females also occurred in the country during the same period. Mr Brefo-Boateng announced this at a day's dialogue on HIV/AIDS organized by the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA-Ghana) and WOMANKIND-UK, a British non-governmental organisation (NGO), in collaboration with the Tema Metropolitan AIDS Committee, in Tema on Wednesday.The programme was on the theme: "Promoting and Protecting the Rights of Women Affected and Infected by HIV and AIDS". Mr Brefo-Boateng said negative socio-cultural practices such as inheriting of widows, popularly called "bye elections" in the Upper West Region made women vulnerable to HIV/AIDS.He also mentioned rape, defilement, prostitution, Female Genital Mutilation and the biological make up of the female reproductive organ as other vulnerability factors.Mr Brefo-Boateng said the Metropolis recorded 177 HIV/AIDS cases last year, bringing the prevalent rate to 2 per cent, which according to him was an improvement on the 370 cases recorded in 2007, with a prevalent rate of 2.2 per cent.He said that 612 people took Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) last year and 741 people went through the same exercise in 2007 in the Metropolis.He said that out of 310 tuberculosis patients who were counselled on HIV/AIDS, 291 of them underwent VCT for the disease last year and 102 of them tested positive, in the area. Mr Faisal Bawa, Programmes Co-ordinator of FIDA-Ghana, said that women were mostly affected by HIV/AIDS partly due to violation of human rights perpetrated against them.He said that "the HIV virus thrives where there are human rights violation. Many cultures engage in traditional practices that violate the rights of women and expose them to the disease." Mr Bawa said that stigmatization and discrimination against People Living with HIV/AIDS was violation of their rights which prevented others from going for VCT for the disease, leading to its spread.

Monday, August 24, 2009

NPP Electoral College Expanded

The NPP's National Delegates' Conference has approved the proposal for the expansion of the Electoral College for the selection of the party's Presidential Candidate for the 2012 general elections from2,340 delegates to about 115,000 delegates.The New Patriotic Party went to this conference to vote on a series of constitutional amendments, including the expansion of the electoral colleges to nominate party officers, parliamentary and presidential candidates.It was evidently clear that a vast majority of delegates, before the conference, were up for this proposal which would give them a much greater say in the selection of the party's flagbearer for the 2012 general elections. The amendment thus extends thefranchise for the nomination of a presidential candidate to all the 105,170 NPP polling station officers across the country. This translates into 5 delegates per polling station, on top of some 7,800 others.A majority of speakers who spoke on the article in question were for the motion. Hon. Sheikh I.C. Quaye, MP for Ayawaso Central; Hon. Beatrice Boateng, MP for New Juaben South were among the speakers who were for the expansion of the Electoral College. The mainstay of their argument was that extension of the franchise.The former MCE for Tamale, Hon. Amin Antah spoke against the expansion of the Electoral College rallying around the flag of fairness and arguing that the proposed expansion was not equitable. He also said the party did not have the resources to fund the expansion of the electoral college.The point of the anti-expansionists was that there are some big constituencies in densely populated areas that have fewer polling stations than some smaller constituencies in areas like Upper East Region, which are sparsely populated but polling stations are created more for geographical considerations than population density.The verdict from the delegates thus seeks to conclude that a greater sampling of a presidential candidate's popularity is better than a smaller sampling of that popularity. Overall, there are 21,034 polling stations in the country which translates into 105,170 polling station officers as delegates.All, but one, of the proposals presented was unanimously approved by the approved by the delegates and thus paves the way for these amendments to be incorporated into the NPP's constitution.Article 11 which sought to unanimously endorse a parliamentary candidate based on a continuous assessment of the MP's performance in Parliament by the Parliamentary leadership, in the constituency by the constituency executive committee and in the region by the regional executive committee was shot down by delegates.

Ghanaian Women rejects Female Condom?

Women are limited in their ability to negotiate the use of the male condom, even in the face of all the forms that HIV/AIDS epidemic has moved into, a form in which married women and women in stable relationships are at the most risk.However, with the rising numbers of infections among women, there is a desperate need for female initiated barrier or method to place a check on the spread of the disease.Relatively few women world wide have adopted the female condom, the only female initiated contraceptive method currently available that can prevent pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).Research confirms female condom’s effectiveness in preventing pregnancy and some STIs. However, data on the long term impact of female condom promotion and use in the HIV/AIDS and other STIs in the context of larger scale programmes are limited.There are many people who can assess the female condom but the concern however is that rural folks, if they are given something they can not use or store, what then is the point.The female condom is the only female controlled barrier against HIV and is half way accepted by some men who refuse to use the male condom.To satisfy my curiosity on the use of the female condom, I hit the streets of Accra to interview and gather information on how knowledgeable and aware people are on the existent and use of the female condom.Surprisingly, a handful of people are aware and have used it before, with reasons that the female condom can be put into place hours before any "action" occurs thus removing the “kill the passion” moment when a male condom is brought into play.An interview with some men indicated that they were excited upon the introduction of the female condom and relieved that they would not be the ones disrupting moments of passion to put on the male condom.This excitement was short lived as the "protection gear", in my rounds revealed that is missing from pharmacy shops and where it exist, is expired.Yaw, a phone repairer told said he has used the female condom with a partner once and came to the conclusion that the inside ring rubs against the tip of the penis during intercourse, intensifying his orgasm. For him, it was the best sexual experience.The same, however, can not be said about Isaac a mechanic, who has also gone through the similar experience. He said the use of the female condom with his partner has never aroused his orgasm, “it only brought discomfort.”As for Kofi, a driver's "mate" or bus conductor was of the view that the female condom has not been made popular. He said “I have not had any encounter with any woman with the use of the female condom, i dont even think about it when making love”.Most women I spoke to say the method of inserting the female condom is very embarrassing, making them feel bad when they talk about it much more using it.When asked whether they are aware that the female condom is the only controlled barrier against HIV, some said they are aware but would prefer the men use the male condom, forgetting that they are at risk if the man refuses to use the male condom.An interview with Lamisi, an educated secretary with a reputable firm in Accra, suggested that she has tried a couple of times to use the female condoms but told me her partner complained of the noise it makes, and thus during sex they had to remove it to make the man feel comfortable.A clear indication that women are weak in matters of the heart and in their sex life, To satisfy the man, she throws caution to the wind and risk contracting the dreadful disease.This indicates that the introduction of the female condom has not received much attention in the country by a lot of men and women who through an interview told me the female condom makes a lot of funny noise during intercourse, is uncomfortable, fulfillment was low and cost is also high (cost 20p when they were available).These and other factors they complained about make the use of the female condom not very attractive to them.I realised from my interview with the people that a lot of women, for whom the female condom was introduced tend to forget that it is for protective and preventive measures that the female condom came into being.Health officials have advised women to use the female condom when their male partners refuse to use the male condom but most women will out of their so-called love for their partners forgo the use of the condom despite the fact that they stand a greater chance of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.May be it is time for the Ministry of Health and all stakeholders to do a comprehensive educational campaign and reverse the negative preconceptions about the female condom and re-launch it since its awareness and use is dying gradually if not died out completely.Authorities should revamp the popularity of the female condom also known as the femidom the same way male condom has gained grounds. Authorities should sit up and do something about it.
Source:Felicity Boachie-Danquah

34 Million Cedis For Mantianace Of Accra Roads

The Minister of Roads and Highways, Hon. Joe Gidisu has expressed worry over bad and shoddy road works in the country particularly in Accra the capital of Ghana. Honorable Gidisu challenged Engineers and other stakeholders in the construction industry to introduce more cost effective materials into our road construction.
According to the Minister it is estimated at 34 million cedis for government to repair and maintain most of the deplorable roads in accra with 3 million cedis going into concrete compacting and patching of the Tema motorway. The Minister disclosed this in Columbia when he led a Ghanaian delegation to Bogota to understudy a modern public transport system known “BRT” bus rapid transportation. He also underscored the importance for the ministry and it’s agency Department of urban roads to collaborate with the Metropolitan, Municipal and District assemblies to bring relief on our roads.“Bad roads constructed previously which needs to be maintained or repair has not only affected our road construction plan for the year but has also affected our expenditure” the minister disclosed that this has affected the budget for road construction which is almost exhausted.Meanwhile the Colombian government has expressed its readiness to assist Ghana in any form to enable it implement the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in the country.The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director for International Cooperation, Mr Enrique Maruri Londono, who made the pledge said Colombia operated one of the best BRT systems in the world and was ready to share and support Ghana with the implementation of the system in the interest of South South cooperation. Mr Londono said this when the Ghanaian delegation, led by the Minister of Roads and Highways, met with him at the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Bogota ,Columbia. The delegation which includes the mayors of Accra, Tema and Kumasi, Dr Alfred Vanderpuye, Mr Robert Kempes Ofosuware and Mr Samuel Sarpong respectively and the Member of Parliament for Ketu South and Parliamentary Select Committee Member on Local Government and Transport, Mr Kwasi Zigah, are presently on a three nation study tour to observe and experience at first hand, how the BRT system works.The others members are Dr D.D. Darku, acting Director of the Department of Urban Roads, the implementing agency, Mr Godwin J. Brock, Director, Policy and Planning, Ministry of Roads and Highways, Mrs Josephine Manu, Legal Officer, Mr Kwadwo Antwi, Communications Specialist , Mr David Quist of the Ministry of Fianance and Economic Planning and two representatives of the two major transport unions in the country, Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPTU) and the Ghana Road Transport Coordinating Council (GRTC).The Director of International Relations in Columbia said ,Colombia has perfected the BRT system and that had made life more meaningful to the people and also enhanced productivity because workers do not have to wait long hours in traffic before they go to work.“We both understand each other and therefore, we must do things alike rather copy blindly from other countries from the West”, he said.He said “the fact that your President sent you all the way from Ghana to Colombia to study our system is a show of commitment on the part of your government to implement the system and we are grateful for that”.He commended the democratic system in Ghana, one, he said had made Ghana the beacon of democracy on the continent and made particular reference to the 2008 elections where the ruling government won by a slim margin to assume the reins of power.Mr Gidisu on his part expressed gratitude to the Colombian government and said the selection of Colombia as part of the countries to study the system was not by default but as a result of the confidence and trust the Ghanaian government had in the BRT system in Colombia.Earlier in the day, the minister and his delegation were presented with a lecture on how governments and politicians can improve the lives of the poor with projects like housing for the poor and urban land reforms by the former mayor of Columbia Bogota, Mr Enrique Periyalosa
Source: Abeiku Aggrey Santana, Bogota, Columbia

Ghana hosts ECOWAS small arms control meeting today

Ghana is to host the sub-regional ECOWAS Small Arms Programme (ECOSAP) from today,August 24th to 25th to identify armed violence reduction projects in member states. The Accra meeting will also update, review and plan National Commission (NATCOM) activities in line with benchmarks that were set in recent past.A statement copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra and signed by Mr Oluwafisan BANKALE, ECOSAP Policy, Advocacy & Communication Officer, said the meeting seeks to build the capacity of civil society on narrative report writing, drafting of project proposal and development of activity work plans.The Accra meeting precedes the annual general conference of National Commissions on Small Arms, which comes off later in September under the auspices of ECOSAP.Participants at the meetings would include staff from NATCOM, the UNDP focal point, ECOSAP and a representative from civil society. In order to give effective technical backstopping to the NATCOMs and the civil society, ECOSAP has divided the ECOWAS member states into four clusters.These are Cape Verde, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Guinea Conakry formed the Banjul team, whiles Ghana, Liberia, and Sierra Leone constitute the Accra group; Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali and Senegal, the Ouagadougou team; Benin, Cote d'Ivoire, Togo and Nigeria formed the Lome team.

Another Pastor fondling lady followers' vagina

A spiritual pastor in Adenta, a suburb of Accra, is in police grips following accusations that he fondled the private parts of his lady followers.“What he does is that when the victims went for healing, he stripped them naked and covered their faces and asked them to sleep on a mat that he had spread in his consultation room. Then he will ask them to open their thighs, pour some concoction into their private parts and stir with his hands,” Superintendent of police, Stephen Ahiatafor told Joy News.According to him, the said pastor whose name he will not disclose will ask victims to open their eyes after he brings out mysterious items he purports to have removed from their private parts.He then attributes the childlessness of his victims to those mysterious items.The spiritual pastor, police say has been practicing for 15 years.The police superintendent has asked female victims of the church who have fallen prey to the wanton abuse by this pastor to assist with investigations.This report comes barely a week after another Teshie based pastor was found guilty for ‘cleansing’ the private parts of his lady followers.He was fined by the La Magistrate Court to pay an amount of GH¢ 600.00

Mac Manu slams factions in NPP

Peter Mac Manu, National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), on Saturday slammed the Nana Akufo Addo and Alan Kyeremanten factions in the party and called for unity for victory in 2012."The Nana Addo and Alan Kyeremanten factions must desist from their divisive activities like spreading inimical anonymous text messages within the rank and file," he said.He was speaking at the opening of the maiden National Delegates Convention of the party to vote on some 46 proposals for amendments in the party's constitution to allow wider grassroots participation in decision making and to foster unity.The "attack" is said to be the first time the Chairman had openly admitted to and slammed factions in the party.After eight years in government, with what was internationally hailed as the best good governance, political and economic stability record in the history of Ghana, the NPP lost power eight months ago to the National Democratic Congress (NDC).Mr Mac Manu said the NPP did not lose power to the NDC but rather surrendered it to the NDC through divisive tendencies, resulting from the 17 persons seeking the presidential slot of the party at the last delegate's congress, the messy parliamentary primaries, and their ensuing factionalism in the party.The event dubbed the "R" Convention 2009 was, therefore, intended to 'Reflect, Rebuild and Recapture' power in 2012. Some 1,450 delegates from the 230 constituencies would be voting behind closed door on the proposed amendments, which included the change of name of the party from New Patriotic Party to National Patriotic Party and a ceiling on the number of people who could contest for presidential and parliamentary slots.Mr Mac Manu told delegates that nobody's interest and agenda was higher than that of the party's and added that the proposal for amendments was bigger than one person's agenda."The winner from this convention should not be Nana Addo faction or Alan Kyerematen faction, but the NPP," he said.He said the proposed amendments were necessary for the common good of the rank and file, saying that any effort to make the people own the party and for that matter work diligently for the party should override all other considerations.The Chairman urged members to stop pontificating and accept the blame for the 2008 election defeat and rather unite to take decision on the proposed amendments for victory in 2008.Mr John Agyekum Kufour, former President of the country, said the world was looking up to the NPP to emerge from the convention as a united force ready to recapture power in 2012."The 'out' of this conference will demonstrate to the world whether we are ready to lead this country again and for that I urge us to bury our difference and emerge as one party," he said.Mr Kufuor said he had heard that there was a Kufuor faction in the party, saying "I want to say here and now that I don't have a faction in the party - I am a full breed NPP and I do not intend to break away."He said the party gave him the highest office of the land and assured the rank and file that as an elder statesman he would continue to speak to issues in the party and make his contribution to the unity, strength and victory of the party.Mr Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, Minority Leader in Parliament said the record of the NPP government for the eight years of Kufuor's government, could not have made the party lose power to the NDC adding that the "17 gladiators" who sought the party's presidential slot for the 2008 elections destroyed the party's fortunes in the process."We surrendered to the NDC just like biblical Esau did to Jacob through our own mistakes," he said.He said the parliamentary caucus had by consensus, accepted that the way forward for NPP was to uphold the proposed amendments, adding that to the extent that elections were won and lost at the polling stations, there was everything right with putting power in the hands of those who work at that level.Mr Mensah-Bonsu urged party members to be weary of persons in the party seeking high office by paying huge monies to delegates and added that in politics high position means service and there was no way someone would pay to serve unless he or she had an exterior motive.

Friday, August 21, 2009

US$1.6 billion needed to meet 2015 water coverage target

The Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) said on Friday it needed US$1.6 million capital investment to revamp water production system to meet government's 85 per cent coverage target by 2015.The United Nations Millennium Development Goal (MDG) set a target of 75 per cent coverage of potable water supply by 2015, but Ghana raised the bar to 85 per cent. Mr. Ebenezer Garbrah, Director of Planning and Development at GWCL said so far 59 per cent coverage had been achieved, but there was the need for a heavy capital investment of at least US$1.6 dollars over the next six years, if the set target was to be met. He made the remark at a day's interactive forum between the management of Aqua Vitens Rand Limited (AVRL), GWCL and the heads of member-organisations of the Coalitions of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS).The forum, organised by AVRL, was to explain to the members of CONIWAS, the policy position of AVRL, its mandate in the water sector, as per the much-criticised five-year Management Contract (MC), the role of GWCL as grantors, and the general state of affairs of the sector since AVRL took over as operators.It was also to give members of CONIWAS a tour of the facilities of AVRL, including the Geographical Identification System (GIS) Department, Meter Workshop and the 24-hour toll-free Customer Care Call Centre. Mr. Garbrah noted that the AVRL was brought onboard the water sector as part of the World Bank's grant package, essentially, to improve the efficiency level of the sector to make it investor attractive.He said even though no specific baseline figures were put in place to measure the performance of AVRL, three years into the contract, the operator had managed to improve revenue collection, widen the distribution network, put measures in place to rope in illegal and evasive consumers into the metering and billing system, and also improved attitude to work and output of workers. Mr. Garbrah said the two major problems of GWCL were governance and a sustainable capital investment, saying that AVRL had helped to deal with the governance problem to a large extent, but the finance side was still lacking."Now it is up to the government to make huge capital investment into the expansion of the water production system for the country to optimise the benefits of the improved efficiencies AVRL had brought to bear on the sector," he said.He noted that government investment into the water sector had not been encouraging over the years, saying that whereas private investment could be generated on the back of the improved efficiency chalked under AVRL; government had to make it a point to generate substantial domestic funds to support the sector.Mr. Garbrah recommended that as a first step, government could increase the talk tax by about five per cent and also encourage producers of water-based alcoholic beverages like beer, stout and others to increase prices by at least one Ghana cedi so, that money could be mopped up to support the sector."We proposed the water tax in 2001 to raise money specifically for the water sector, but the model we proposed is now being used for the talk tax but the funds from that facility is not benefiting the water sector much," he said.He said it was time for government to implement economic tariffs for water, adding that, on the back of the improved efficiencies under AVRL, characterised mainly by the GIS, which is used for locating all customers, among other things, GWCL would impress upon the Public Utilities Regulation Commission (PURC) to grant economic tariffs on water.Mr. Garbrah said AVRL's contribution so far, under the five-year Management Contract, had also set the tone for GWCL to package a good investment plan for a road show to attract private investors. Mr. Andy Barber, Managing Director of AVRL said with the remaining two years of AVRL's contract, $270 million dollars was needed to optimise the existing water production system to sustain the gains made so far."To meet the 85 per cent set target by 2015, heavy capital investment needs to be put into building more treatment plants, providing large scale electronic meters to measure how much water is produced and how much is sold among other things," he said. He pointed out that, by the terms of the management contract, the heavy capital investment was in the purview of GWCL and not AVRL, saying "we only manage what GWCL gives to us."Mr. Barber said currently some of the heavy duty electronic meters had been procured and would be installed soon to be able to measure the production levels and sales levels with much more precision.Mr. Patrick Apoya, Executive Secretary of CONIWAS admitted that the interactive forum had been an eye opener for CONIWAS members on the real mandate and indeed, the achievement and challenges of AVRL. He lent his support to the call for the water tax, saying that no donor would come and give free money to Ghana if government did not show commitment to generating domestic funds to support the water sector. Mr. Apoya was worried that 2.5 per cent extra was placed on Value Added Tax (VAT) to support the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), even though people need not access the scheme every day to live, like they needed water every day to survive"We only need the NHIS when we are already ill, but we need water every day to prevent sickness, and yet government sees more wisdom in creating a special tax regime to support a health insurance scheme than for providing potable water," he saidMr. Rudolf Amenga-Etego, Executive Director of Foundation for Grassroots Initiatives in Africa told the GNA that water was a basic need for Ghanaians and should therefore draw its support from the consolidated fund"The state and the government must make it a point to generate domestic funds to support the water sector," he said. Mr. Amenga-Etego, well known for his award-winning anti-water privatization campaign also admitted that the interaction with AVRL had given him an insight to the reality that indeed AVRL was not a profit-making venture. 21 Aug 09

Chieftaincy Ministry pledges support for arts industry

Mr Alexander Asum-Ahensah, Minister of Chieftaincy and Culture, on Thursday said his ministry would provide the needed push and support for the visual arts industry to make it a vehicle to re-brand the country.He said the arts and culture sector of a country should to be protected because it depicted the totality of the lifestyle of the people, which distinguished them from their neighbours. Mr Asum-Ahensah said this in a speech read on his behalf at the opening of the Fifth Exhibition of Paintings, Textiles and Sculptures organised by the Greater Accra Branch of the Ghana Association of Visual Artists (GAVA) in Accra.It is aimed at stimulating national interest and appreciation for the visual arts industry. He said the arts and culture industry was a new reality for the country and provided a mirror through which the people could gain access to the future."When we talk of self-reliance, self-sufficiency and national identity as the core of our national development objectives, we are referring to the arts and culture sector as the fountain spring of all policies be they educational, economical and or social," he said. Mr Asum-Ahensah challenged artists to set standards and ensure professionalism with their art presentations to reposition the industry to enable it to cope with the transformation taking place in the world's art market.He also called for a more innovative way of marketing works of visual artists to enable them to reap full benefits of their labour. He urged visual artists to be alert observers, improvisers and to be inquisitive about conditions of daily life to enable them to create new designs.Mr Franklin Nii Glover, President of Greater Accra branch of GAVA, said sales and appreciation for the works of the visual artists had been on the decline over the years. He called on the public to purchase arts products as a way of supporting the industry. The exhibition which, is ongoing at the Ghana National Museums and Monuments Board, opens until the end of September.

Cuba and Venezuela to support Ghana

Cuba and Venezuela have pledged to support Ghana in the training of medical doctors beginning next year. The support will also be extended to the biological control of malaria through the establishment of factories for the production of lavaecides.The Minister of Health, Dr. George Sipa Yankey disclosed this last night on his return from Havana and Caracas as part of an ECOWAS health delegation to the two countries.He said the visit was aimed at the establishment of a tripartite arrangement of Cuba, Venezuela and ECOWAS. Under the arrangement, Cuba will provide the technology to fight malaria, with Venezuela and ECOWAS providing the political commitment and support for the project.The ECOWAS delegation included the President of the Commission, Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas and the Health Minister of Nigeria.Dr. Yankey said he held series of meetings with the Cuban Ministers of Health, Education, Agriculture and Foreign Affairs on bilateral issues.Ghana was assured of continuous Cuban Medical Brigade support and the opening up of her training facilities to Ghanaian Health Personnel.Cuba also positively promised to expand medical cooperation with ECOWAS countries especially in the control and eradication of malaria parasites.To this end factories to process lavaecides would be built in Nigeria and Cote d’ Ivoire and the one in Ghana extended to other region of the country.On Venezuela, Dr. Yankey said the country which has one of the best paediatric and cardiothoracic medical facilities in Latin America, has also pledged to offer training assistance to Ghanaian post graduate medical doctors.He noted that the level and capacity of medical training facilities existing in Venezuela is a real challenge to Ghana to invest more in medical education.

Chief Justice appeals to President to fill vacancies at Supreme Court

Mrs Georgina Theodora Wood, the Chief Justice, has appealed to President John Evans Atta Mills to fill three vacant positions at the Supreme Court of Ghana. She also submitted the names of three Appeal Court Justices approved by the Judicial Council for the consideration of the President.The Chief Justice stated the appeal in a letter to the President, dated August 12. She said it had become necessary to enhance considerably the administration of justice as enshrined in Article 128 (1) of the 1992 Constitution.The said article states: "The Supreme Court shall consist of the Chief Justice and not less than nine other Justices of the Supreme Court." Additionally, Article 128(2) states: "The Supreme Court shall be duly constituted for its work by not less than five Supreme Court Justices, except as otherwise provided in Article 33 of the 1992 Constitution." There are currently 11 justices of the Supreme Court, including the Chief Justice.The passing away of Justice Professor Tawiah Modibo Ocran in October last year, retirement of Justice Theodore Adzoe also in October 2008 and the resignation of Justice Francis Y. Kpegah last December have currently created vacancies at the Supreme Court. The letter stated: "In view of the reasons stated above, the names of the following Justices of the Court of Appeal were submitted to the Judicial Council for consideration for appointment to the Supreme Court - Justice B. T. Aryeetey, Justice S. N. Gbadegbe and Justice Vida Akoto-Bamfo."The Chief Justice said the Judicial Council at its meeting on August 12, approved the recommendations. "In accordance with Article 144(2) of the Constitution, the three recommended names are humbly submitted for your consideration," the letter said.

EC to produce new Identity Cards

Ghanaians may most likely vote in the 2012 General elections with a new voters Identification (ID) Cards, Mr David Kanga, Deputy Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC) has disclosed. He said the present ID cards had outlived its usefulness and could be faked by some individuals to cheat during electionsMr Kanga said the EC would do away with the present laminated cards. He explained that when the EC first issued laminated cards, there were no lamination facilities in the country but presently they were freely available everywhere.Mr Kanga said fraudsters could therefore use the scanning machine to produce fake cards. He said that was the more reason why it had become necessary to change the ID Cards to suit the present day circumstances, by adopting new technology. At the just ended Akwatia Parliamentary re-run polls in six polling stations, some voters managed to use fake ID cards to exercise their franchise.Mr Kanga who was at Akwatia to personally observe the elections was shown some of the fake cards at the Yoruba Mosque "A" polling station. He said the bearers of those cards however escaped arrest and possible prosecution since the polling officials felt arresting them could spark violence to disrupt the polls. Mr Kanga noted that somebody managed to scan pictures from the voters register to print the fake cards.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Attorney -General moves to attract more lawyers

Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mrs Betty Mould-Iddrisu has hinted of plans to improve conditions at her department in order to attract and retain more lawyers to facilitate the department’s work.She said this is also necessary to ensure that justice delivery in the country is streamlined.This was contained in an address read on her behalf at the third Conference of Regional Heads of the Attorney-General’s Department in Kumasi.In an address, the Ashanti Regional President of the Ghana Bar Association called for skills upgrade for police prosecutors to ensure effective justice delivery. The association believes a lack of proper orientation and the requisite legal skills for police prosecutors has led to the loss of cases, which could otherwise have been won by the state. President of the association, Sir Denis Adjei told the third Conference of Regional Heads of the Attorney General’s Department in Kumasi, that government must train prosecutors on the job. He said the A-G must improve the capacities of police prosecutors as failure to do so will only spur the vicious cycle of injustice.“Most police prosecutors… do not receive regular training from the A-G’s department. Inexperienced prosecution is likely to breed injustice,” he said.