Henceforth, any Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executive in whose jurisdiction acts of environmental degradation are recorded will be sanctioned, Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Dr Henry Kwabena Kokofu, has warned.
Noting that Ghana was deteriorating into the worst state of environmental destruction, Dr Kokofu said the time to crack the whip on environmental offenders is now.
Citing the recent floods and filths that engulfed some parts of the country, he stressed that stringent measures would be taken to punish offenders, irrespective of their position in government in accordance with the law.
Mr Kokofu who was speaking at a stakeholder engagement with Metropolitan, Municipal and Districts Assemblies (MMDAs) in Accra yesterday said it was the responsibility of state institutions to rather fish out persons guilty of committing environmental offences instead of looking on for the deterioration to continue.
He stated that the local government Act 2016 (Act936) placed a huge responsibility on the MMDAs to be responsible for the development, improvement and management of human settlement and the environment in the districts.
Explaining he said, section four of the Act also mandated the district assemblies to take the steps and measures that were necessary and expedient to execute approved development plans for their various districts.
Touching on the construction of edifices on waterways, the CEO stated that in the event of floods caused by the presence of such buildings, vulnerable people suffered alone when demolition exercises are carried out leaving authorities at the district assemblies who issued such permits to go scot free.
This, he said, was unfair, stressing that all persons responsible for playing roles which ended up resulting in any form of disaster must be made to face the law.
Mr Kokofu urged authorities of all district assemblies across the country to take environmental issues seriously by ensuring they went strictly according to the laws governing their operations.
“We must remind ourselves of our statutory roles to ensure that the environment in which we live is protected and preserved in order to sustain it,” he stressed.
Director in charge of environmental assessment and management, EPA, Mr Kwabena Badu-Yeboah, in his presentation indicated that the seeming lack of land use plans and development control, re-zoning issues, springing up of noise making within communities, development within wet lands and mangrove areas and the indiscriminate siting of activities like waste recycling in residential areas were all issues that affected the environment.
Touching on the negative impact of noise making, he charged residents of noisy areas to take persons and organisations responsible for the noise making, to court, including churches.
“There must be discipline and tranquility wherever human beings are but it seems impossible for this to happen within some communities in Ghana so I encourage residents to report noise makers to the relevant authorities. Sanity must be restored in the system,” he added.
He indicated that the EPA identified MMDAs as key stakeholders when it comes to sustainable development.
BY RAISSA SAMBOU