Mr Emmanuel Appoh, Deputy Director, Environmental Quality Standards of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has for active enforcement of environmental laws to reduce the negative health and economic impact of air pollution.
“We need to enhance the enforcement of environmental laws to protect ourselves from air pollution, which is costing the nation a fortune,” Mr Appoh, said in Accra, adding, “the authorities must apply the laws fully.”
The situation of air pollution, he said, is more serious in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA); and dwelling on the EPA Act 1994 (Act 490), announced that the Agency, would in collaboration with its stakeholders begin to enforce strictly the standards and guidelines relating to the pollution of air, water, land and noise.
Mr Appoh made the revelation at a training programme organized by the Environmental Protection Agency for members of the Parliamentary Press Corps at the Institute of Environmental Studies at Amasaman in the Greater Accra Region.
The workshop was to educate and equip the Press Corps on the issues of the environment so that they can partner the EPA in promoting environmental issues across the country.
The participants discussed the EPA Laws and Regulations, Hazardous Waste Management, Environmental Quality Standards, Pesticides Management, Ozone and Climate Change.
Mr Appoh said the EPA would work in effective partnership with stakeholders and to catalyze change to make environmental protection and sustainable development commonly held values.
He said the Agency can do so by liaising and cooperating with government agencies, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) and institutions to control pollution and protect the environment.
Mr Ekow Gurah-Sey, the Acting Director Legal of the EPA, said the EPA, being the lead institution in protecting Ghana’s environment, plans to amend some sections of the EPA laws and regulations to make it more effective in tackling environmental issues.
He cited for example the amendment of the Environmental Assessment Regulations of 1999 (L.I.1652) to make the offences and penalties under the rule more punitive against offenders.
He said the Agency had already forwarded its proposed amendments to the Attorney Generals (AG’s) Office after which they would also forward the Amendment Bill to Parliament for consideration.
Mr Lovelace Sarpong, the Deputy Director at the Chemicals Management Unit (CMU) of the EPA, said the government was engaging scrap collectors and providing them training on how best to practice their business to protect the environment.
Additionally, the EPA is embarking on environmental awareness campaigns for scrap dealers, with a further view to give them alternative livelihoods.
Mr Sarpong indicated that burning of car tyres and other materials and the extraction of copper from electronic waste were illegal under the new law.
He announced that the government had already cut the sod for the state-of-the-art recycling facility to deal with the problem of e-waste in the country.
Prof Abeku Blankson, a Consultant to the EPA, urged the media not only to develop an interest in the issues of the environment but must sustain it to get the needed results.
He urged the Press Corps to take advantage of its proximity to the Legislature to effectively shape public opinion on environmental issues.