The Department of Parks and Gardens is constrained with resources to carry out its mandate of planting and maintenance of trees to protect the environment against floods, says the Acting Chief Officer, Nantogma A. Wumbei.
The department, he said, had only two tipper trucks and one water tanker bought in the 1980s for the head office in Accra “We used them today and tomorrow they breakdown.”
“Because of this constraint we are unable to cope with the volume of work at hand,” he told The Ghanaian Times on phone yesterday.
Mr Wumbei said the ideal situation would have been for the department to have a tipper truck, a water tanker and a pick-up for each regional officer to monitor activities in the region.
According to him the tipper trucks were for disposing branches of trees pruned while the water tankers were used for watering gardens and shrub on the median of roads, especially during the dry season.
Mr Wumbei was optimistic that given the needed resources, the department could do a lot to protect the environment and help mitigate the perennial floods in the cities and urban towns across the country.
He said the department had, since 2012, not received budgetary allocations for investment, adding, “over the years, we have been battling with the sector minister to retain some of our Internally Generated Funds to invest in logistics to equip or staff to carry out our mandate.”
The Parks and Gardens Department is an agency under the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development responsible for maintenance of the country’s park and gardens nationwide in order to protect the environment and beautify the cities and urban places.
Among gardens the department has oversight responsibilities are Aburi Gardens, Peduase Lodge, Flagstaff House, Castle Gardens, and Independence Square, as well as regional town gardens.
The department also grows trees on shoulders of roads and shrubs on the median, landscaping, besides nursing seedlings for sale to the public.
Sharing his thought about the role of the department in protecting the environment amidst the perennial floods in Accra and other parts of the country, Mr. Wumbei said trees served as shelter belts or windbreaks, and that the canopies of trees also helped to prevent soil erosion, thereby reducing floods.
He added that planting of green grasses around water bodies, river banks and hills helped to check soil erosion and prevent a run-off on to the streets that posed danger to vehicular movement.
Besides, the acting Parks and Gardens Officer said trees planted on the shoulders of the roads and shrubs on the median of roads helped prevent road crashes, explaining that the canopy of the shrubs helped to deflect the intensity of highlights on drivers when vehicles were approaching from the opposite direction.
Mr Wumbei also touched on some challenges the department had been facing with utility service providers such as the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), as well as advertising companies in carrying out its mandate.
He said when trees overgrew electricity cables and pylons, ECG resorted to “haphazard” cutting of the branches instead of “collaborating with us to use our expertise to prune them to protect them from dying.”
He added that because of the lack of instructional collaborations, the GWCL in carrying out their work in laying pipelines, often cut trees down, stressing that the trees were as important as the provision of water.
He blamed the advertising companies for cutting down trees to erect their billboards at vantage points in the metropolis and other urban areas, saying that advertising agency must collaborate with the department in protecting the environment.
By Salifu Abdul-Rahaman