Debates of 28 Feb 2006

PRAYERS 10:25 a.m.


Mr. Speaker 10:25 a.m.
Hon. Members, we have in our midst a delegation from the Swedish Parliament and I wish to recognise them. The first person who is the leader of the delegation is hon. Joe Frans, member of the Committee on Justice. [Hear! Hear!] As you can quite see, he is a born Ghanaian. The second person is hon. Sylvia Lindgren, Member of Parliament of Sweden and a member of the Committee on Industry [Hear! Hear!].
And we have hon. Mrs Agneta Gille, Member of Parliament and member of the Committee on Education. [Hear! Hear!] The following two officers are accompanying them. Mr. Lars Janson, Chief Operating Officer, Artificial Limbs Production Company and the husband of Mrs. Agnetta Gille; then Mr. Jimmy Lindgren, Vice President of Stockholm City Local Council for Public Transport and Roads. [Hear! Hear!].
Hon. Members and your accom-
panying persons, we wish you a happy stay and I welcome you here on behalf of this august House.



Mr. A. O. Aidooh 10:25 a.m.
No, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker 10:25 a.m.
Item 3 - Questions. Hon.

Question number 190, and it stands in

the name of hon. Charles S. Hodogbey, Member of Parliament for North Tongu - [Pause.] He is absent. Question number 191, and it stands in the name of hon. James Klutse Avedzi, Member of Parliament for Ketu North. [Pause] Question number 192 and it stands in the name of hon. Alhaji Yakubu K. Imoro, Member of Parliament for Kumbungu [Pause.] Question number 239 and it stands in the name of hon. George Kuntu Blankson, Member of Parliament for Mfantseman East. [Interruptions] Order! Order!

Hon. Minister for Energy, thank

you very much for appearing; you are discharged. Item 4 Statements. Statement by hon. Member for Afigya Sekyere East?
STATEMENTS 10:25 a.m.

Mr. David Hennric Yeboah (NPP - Afigya Sekyere) 10:25 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to make this Statement. Mr. Speaker, my Statement is on the need to improve upon the public road transportation system in the country.
It is a known fact that efficient road transportation network will go a long way to ensure quick movement of people, goods and services to and from their respective destinations.
Mr. Speaker 10:25 a.m.
Order! Order!
Mr. Speaker, in our bid to ensure that tourism remains one of the major foreign exchange earners and also make the country a good tourism destination, we need to improve upon our transportation system to the extent that it will facilitate movement of people and tourists who visit the country.
As of now, there is no time schedule advertised to indicate movement of public transport to their destinations. One therefore has to speculate as to when and where a particular bus will be.
The Metro Mass Transit has to have a firmed-up time schedule and also well designed route demarcations. We ought to identify all the buses with their numbers clearly written on them. If one is in town, say Accra (Tudu) and wants to go to the Tema lorry park, it should be clear to the person that if he/she takes bus “No. X” at a certain time, he/she will change bus at Tetteh Quarshie Roundabout at a certain time and join bus “No. Y” to Tema.
Mr. Speaker, this will make it more professional and thus enable it to attract more people and workers to join the Metro Mass Transit. Mr. Speaker, in many countries many people take public
Mr. Speaker 10:35 a.m.
Management also have to think about creating parking lots with securities where businessmen and other people can park their cars and join buses to their destinations. This is called “Park-and- Ride.”

These car parks can attract some tolls which will ultimately generate some revenue. Mr. Speaker, I recommend that bus stops be provided with signs, including bus numbers, their time of commencement of operation and their closing time. We must not lose sight of the need for proper identification of bus drivers and their conductors. Further-more, to ensure that bus conductors and their drivers are disciplined and cautious at all times, we must provide them with well-prescribed uniforms with the company logo with their names and numbers clearly displayed to enable them to be easily identified.

May I also suggest that certain routes be designated as “express routes” during rush hours; on such routes, buses move from one destination to the other without any stoppage. For example, some buses may be assigned to the road from Makola to Madina whereby they pick passengers from these areas to other areas without stopping. The rationale behind this arrangement is to ensure quick movement of people especially during the morning and evening rush hours. I f t h e s e suggestions are carried through, we will save time, ease congestion, facilitate easy and quick movement of people, goods and

services and thereby give a boost to the economy.
Mr. Joe Hackman (NPP - Gomoa West) 10:35 a.m.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to associate myself with the Statement on the floor.
Mr. Speaker, the frustrations of waiting for a bus for a very long time in Ghana is a common phenomenon. Especially the way buses drop off passengers and then pick up passengers also contribute to creating traffic congestion on our roads.
I am even worried by the introduction of Metro Mass Transit. Sometimes, they encounter very serious confrontations with the private transport operators like Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU), Private Road Transport Owners Association (PROTOA) et cetera. In some areas they even prevent them from dropping off passengers and picking some up. But the seriousness of the matter is this, that, Mr. Speaker, in some countries one does not find it interesting even to own one's own vehicle because of the efficiency of the public transport. In a place like Holland, for example, public transport is so efficient that one does not see the need even to own one's own vehicle.
If they tell you that the bus is going to arrive in five minutes, the bus will be there and you could change and do whatever business you intend to do; so this improves the productivity of the nation.
Another serious phenomenon with the
operators of our Metro Mass Transit buses is this, that they overwork the buses such that maintenance is even neglected. I
Mr. Joe Hackman (NPP - Gomoa West) 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, with these few words, I would like to congratulate the hon. Member who made the Statement and I think public transportation should be a national priority in order to improve our national productivity.
Mr. S. K. Balado Manu (NPP - Ahafo
Ano South): Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me this opportunity to also contribute to the Statement made by the hon. Member for Afigya Sekyere East.
Mr. Speaker, as has been eloquently articulated by the hon. Member who made the Statement, public transportation system is of great importance to development. However, when it comes to a third world country like Ghana there are a lot of problems that are confronting the public transportation system such that it makes it almost impossible to make the system efficient. The hon. Member for Gomoa West has enumerated some of the problems. I want to talk about the corrupt aspect of public transportation system.
Mr. Speaker, it has become almost
endemic that whatever belongs to the public is nobody's business, to the extent that drivers who are given these buses to drive and their apprentices collude with some mechanic shops and they sell off the parts of these new vehicles and replace them with old parts. And it does not take any long period to find these buses parked in their workshops ready to be repaired.
This costs a lot to the company and does not make the transportation system efficient, and I would like therefore to plead that people who are indulging in
such practices should refrain from them. The managers of these companies should also open their eyes and ears wide to allegations of this nature and follow them up because it has been said that “to every rumour, there is an iota of truth if delved into.”
With these few words, Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you for giving me the chance to also contribute to the Statement.
Mr. D. K. Bradford Adu (NPP
- Okere): Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to contribute to Statement.
Mr. Speaker, I just want to extol the virtues of the Metro Mass Transit. Apart from everything, they are doing very well; they keep their buses very decent and neat. Mr. Speaker, I also want to congratulate the Government of the day for providing these buses for the people. Mr. Speaker, wherever these buses are sent people applaud and, I am so happy to announce on the floor that I have two of these buses running in my constituency. But I wish to appeal to the authorities in charge to add maybe three more because the constituency is big - the Akuapim constituency -- So if they can add three more to make it five, we shall be indeed happy.
Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the bus
conductors and so on, I think they have done well. They have kept stations; they have kiosks where people wait to board these buses. I think in terms of pilfering or people making use of the money it is minimized and I applaud them for it. I wish them well and I encourage them to do more, and as they do that they help the nation.

I also wish to appeal again to the Government that more of these buses should be brought into the country so that people would be happy and much money would not be spent on transport and people would be relieved. For instance, for a distance of about forty kilometers, private transport owners are taking about six thousand cedis, eight thousand cedis, or ten thousand cedis; and these buses take about half that amount and that money would be saved by individuals. So again, I would appeal that Government should bring in more and more of these buses and it will be wonderful. It will help the economy.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.
Mr. Kojo Armah (CPP -- Evalue- Gwira) 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I also rise to associate myself with the Statement made by my hon. Friend.
Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to note that in that Statement he is asking for uniforms for drivers so that some decency can be kept. I remember that in the late 1960s our former President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah prescribed uniforms for drivers in this country - I think it was black and white or so, especially for taxi drivers. Soon after, there was the coup de'tat and it was one of the charges, that he was driving this country into a uniformed country where everybody puts on uniform almost like a communist state. Forty years after we are now beginning to say that drivers must be put back in uniform; I support the idea.
But more importantly, Mr. Speaker, I think as we move along into an emerging country, hoping to arrive at the middle income destination ten years from now, we must begin to do things in modern ways just like other countries do else. In other words we must ask our public transport organizations to start developing
Mrs. A. A. Chigabatia (NPP - Builsa North) 10:45 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to associate myself with the Statement. But before I do that, I must say that the introduction of the Metro Mass Transit (MMT) buses in the country under the leadership of His Excellency the President is a laudable idea. However, if you would permit me, I must say Kumasi, Accra, and all regional capitals do not need buses as they are now; the whole place is choked. I would suggest that these buses are sent to the rural areas.
I come from a very big and large district, precisely Builsa North, and we do not even have one bus to assist us. Mr. Speaker, it is rather the rural areas that really need these buses; Ghana belongs to everyone and we must all enjoy. So I pray that the Government would heed this Statement we are making today, and send more buses to the rural areas to assist the people, especially school children with the free ride that their other colleagues are enjoying in the cities.

Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Akwasi Osei-Adjei): Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to make a few comments on this very laudable Statement.

Mr. Speaker, we must congratulate the Ministry of Road Transport for their vision to know that Ghana needs a public transport system in order to accelerate its development. Mr. Speaker, at the same time I must also congratulate the Metro Mass Transit for their safety record for the meantime. They have done very well. Their safety record is very good compared to the trotro plying our street. One thing that I must emphasize is that the MMT should be run on commercial lines. They should take into consideration the

continuity of their service so that we can all the time support the service without coming through the Budget for money to support the activities of the MMT.

Again, I think I can recommend that the MMT should not be centralized but it should be decentralized so that District Assemblies will take shares in this MMT system so that the buses can go to the rural areas, as my hon. Sister suggested. But I do not believe that being in Accra or Kumasi or Sekondi or Ho does not matter, it really matters because there are a lot of people there as well, as there are a lot of people in the rural areas.

Mr. Speaker, with these few comments I support the Statement.
Mr. I. K. Asiamah (NPP - Atwima- Mponua) 10:45 a.m.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the Statement on the floor.
Mr. Speaker, I want to touch on the national pride associated with these Metro Mass Transit buses. Mr. Speaker, wherever these buses have been introduced the joy and the ecstasy is so overwhelming. Just last week or so we all saw on Ghana Television (GTV) when these buses were introduced to the Volta Regional Capital, Ho; we all saw the joy and the kind of enthusiasm with which people really that people received these buses.
Mr. Speaker, the introduction of this Metro Mass Transit system should promote competition; the other private operators should see it as a challenge to improve upon their services. For me competition is keen. So I believe that management of these buses should also make sure that they are involved in the kind of competition that would sustain our transportation system a competition that would make sure that there is value
for money, a competition that will satisfy Ghanaians and a competition that can stand the test of time.
Mr. Speaker, let us also look at its promised employment creation. We have been told that with the introduction of this Transit system about one thousand five hundred Ghanaians have been employed. Mr. Speaker, this is something we must commend the management of the MMT and also the Government for, for having the vision for this thing. Mr. Speaker, the challenge now is up to the management of this MMT system to ensure that as this Transit system is helping the economies of other countries, they would handle it in such a way that Ghana would continue to benefit from the services of this public sector transport.
Mr. Speaker, it is key that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past we used to have this thing in Ghana, why is it that it collapsed all of a sudden? History should tell us that we should manage it in such a way that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past, so that for the first time Ghanaians would have something that they would pride on for generations yet unborn.
Mr. Speaker, with these few words I thank the hon. Member who made the Statement.
Mrs. Josephine Addoh (NPP -- Kwadaso) 10:55 a.m.
Mr. speaker, I would like to add my voice to the Statement on the floor.
Mr. Speaker, I am really for the idea of having so many buses for the urban centres for workers to be carried to and from their work places. I am also for the idea of sending some of the buses to the remote areas to help those in our villages. But I am coming from a different angle and I am looking at a situation where special buses or vehicles can be brought in by the Metro Mass Transit to help rather the farmers
Mr. Akwasi Afrifa (NPP -- Fomena) 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that the mass transport system has improved our transportation system in the urban centres. The contribution of the mass transport in at least providing effective competition to private road users -- commercial vehicles, of course -- has been very good, because they have contributed at least to a level of, I will say, not high transportation cost in the country.
Mr. Speaker, it has also gone a long way to give democracy a human face -- how we see our school children boarding the buses to school and back home free of charge. This is commendable and it puts a feather in the cap of the President and his Government for such a useful venture.
Mr. Speaker, just like the last hon. Member who contributed said, we should also look at how to get foodstuffs to our urban centres in order to also beat down the prices of foodstuffs. Prices of foodstuffs in the urban areas are almost all the time very high because of transportation cost. I would rather recommend that the mass transport system does not only use buses but would also bring in haulage trucks
that would go into the rural areas, to the farmgates to convey foodstuffs to our urban centers that these foodstuffs will be sold at a reasonably cheaper prices to meet the pockets of our teeming workers and urban settlers in order to enhance their living standards.
Mr. Speaker, as I speak, my constituency and for that matter my district have not got a bus on our roads. From Kumasi to Fomena to New Edubiase and to Assin Fosu, we do not have it. And it is all because of the poor nature of a portion of the road from AnhwiaNkwanta to Fomena. I therefore want to appeal to the concerned Ministry to also pay attention to that portion of the road so that it is made motorable all the year round. That will enable the buses to also ply on the roads there for me.
With this contribution I thank the hon. Member who made the Statement.
Minister for Parliamentary Affairs/ Majority Leader (Mr. Felix Owusu- Adjapong) 10:55 a.m.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the Statement made by my hon. Colleague.
Mr. Speaker, the Statement has come at an opportune time. As we speak, we have some loan agreements pending with the Joint Committee on Finance and Road Transport, all aimed at ensuring that we get more buses so that the Metro Mass Transit will be able to reach all parts of the country.
Mr. Speaker, the interesting aspect of the loan agreement pending before us is that it is also going to bring in a type of vehicle that goes to areas which the current models are not able to ply. So that places like my constituency, places like portions of the Upper East and West Regions will also be accommodated; and these are deals from Holland and Belgium.
So I think as we congratulate the Government and the Ministry of Road Transport for the good work they are doing, we should also urge our hon. Colleagues on this Committee to ensure that perhaps by the end of the week, they finished whatever we need to do on this loan, so that if the terms are good, we give approval to enable orders to be placed. This is the part we can play to show to the people of Ghana that we are also interested in improving mass trans-portation.
Mr. Speaker, I believe that what the Government is doing is also to indicate to Ghanaians, those who are in transport that they should also be able to assist in such areas. And I believe that if they make useful proposals to the Ministry and therefore to the Government, we should be able to fashion a system where not only the Government but also other private sector organizations will be involved in mass transportation in this country.
With these few words, Mr. Speaker, I would want to support the Statement made.
Minister for Road Transport (Dr. R. Anane) 10:55 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, generally this Government thinks that there is the need to improve the economy, and one of the main areas of concern that would help to catapult the economy to the level that we require is by putting in place the requisite infrastructure. But it not just mere infrastructure placement; there is also the need to ensure that the services on these infrastructures are also improved. Because of this His Excellency the President in 2001, directed for the restructuring of the Metro Mass Transit or mass transportation in general.
Since that time a lot has been done to improve upon transportation in the country.
Mr. Speaker, in the first place, apart from ensuring that our road sector, that is, the road infrastructure is developed to the level that will make it easy for access, make it easy for transit and make it also possible for safety to be improved - And here I can say with all certainty that we have over the past four, five years improved upon the safety on our roads by reducing the road traffic accident fatality rate from 31 deaths per 10,000 vehicles as at the end of 2001 to 19 deaths per 10,000 vehicles as at the end of 2005.
Mr. Speaker, th is i s no mean achievement and few countries can actually do such a thing. In addition to doing this, which is through the concerted actions and efforts of the various stakeholders in the transportation sector and safety in general, there has been some placement of infrastructure; and this is seen countrywide. From Accra radiating to the east, to the west and to the north, we find infrastructure being improved upon. That is why we see that the Accra-Cape Coast road, the Accra-Mamfe road, the Accra Kumasi road and the Accra-Aflao road are all under major rehabilitation. It is not only these. When you go up country you will see the same improvement in our infrastructure. And to beef up the transportation sector, there was the need to put in place an affordable easy-to-access transport network and that is why Metro Mass Transit was incorporated with the co-operation of Government and some financial institutions.
Mr. Speaker, last year alone, the Metro Mass Transit carried about forty million passengers. And even to beef up or encourage and let the world know how pro-poor this Government is, a at the beginning of February this year, all school children in this country can now access Metro Mass Transit free of charge. This is done for all areas where the buses
Minister for Road Transport (Dr. R. Anane) 11:05 a.m.
are operating and towards all school areas where these children will be going.

These are some of the measures which Government has put in place in order to ensure that the people can access affordable transportation. But Mr. Speaker, we do appreciate that transport in this country has always been private sector led. And because of this Government has also been improving upon what the private sector is doing. We have started even with the construction industry and I can also inform the august House that through Government/National Investment Bank (NIB) collaboration we have been able to access construction, equipment to support the private sector in road construction and we are also doing everything to make sure that the private sector in transportation is also supported.

Mr. Speaker, these are all being done in order to ensure that there is easy access, the access is affordable and there is safety on our roads. So when we combine all these three and when people can easily access and afford the transportation, they can easily go to their places of socio- economic activities and let this country grow.
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Hon. Members, let
us move to item 5 on the Order Paper - Laying of Papers.
By the Chairman of the Committee -
Report of the Committee of the Whole on the Proposed Formula for Sharing the District Assemblies' Common Fund for the Year 2006.
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Item 6 -- Motions
- Minister for Finance and Economic Planning?
Mr. Owusu-Adjapong 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker,
Mr. Speaker 11:05 a.m.
Permission granted.
Deputy Attorney-General?

Minister of Justice) 11:05 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I beg to move that the Insolvency Bill be read the Second time.
Mr. Speaker, the Bill is part of the process of legal reforms initiated by the Ministry of Justice and aimed at improving the quality of the legal system. It is intended to strengthen the legal system to face up to the existing challenges of our time and more importantly help in ushering in the golden age of business which is the cornerstone of the development process of our Government. Equally, it is in keeping with the philosophy of the Ministry of Justice to sustain a legal system which can resolve disputes quickly and cheaply, which can frame laws in clear, comprehensive language, which can provide the legal support for a vigorous enterprise economy, which guarantees equal access to justice and equal treatment before the law.
Mr. Speaker, insolvency legislation made its impact in the Gold Coast in 1856 and 1857 as well as 1858. None of those pieces of legislation was brought into force. For some reason the Bankruptcy Ordinance of 1858 was repealed in 1893.
In 1806 the Gold Coast Companies Ordinance was passed. It provided for the winding up of insolvent companies, but nothing about personal insolvency. In 1957 a Bankruptcy Bill was introduced in the Legislative Assembly; it was rejected on the grounds that the formulation of the policy had not been endorsed by the people.
But Mr. Speaker, before 1858 there had been a traditional system of paying debts and the legal luminary, Mr. Mensah Sarbah, had so succinctly written in his book; -- he had chronicle the way debts were being paid in those -- days and it was about the principle of Panyaali where a debtor could have any of his relatives seized by the creditor in satisfaction of the debt.
Mr. Speaker, we have come a long way now and it is about time that an insolvency law was passed in this country. But before then in 1962 an insolvency law was enacted to provide the framework for regulating personal bankruptcy. It was based on the proposals of commissioners appointed under the Commission of Enquiry Ordinance (Cap 249) on the 20th of January, 1960 to inquire into the Insolvency Law. Sadly, Mr. Speaker, it has never been brought into force. The power to make it operative has been in the hands of the Attorney-General of the day; the power has now been removed in the present day. The commencement of the Bill as at large is now subject to the operation of clause 11 of article 106 of the Constitution.
The 1962 Insolvency Act is older by a year than the Companies Code, 1963, (Act 179); but Act 179, Mr. Speaker, is very active and in operation. The Insolvency Act, 1962 was intended also to promote commercial morality, to put a fair playing field for both creditors and debtors, to minimise losses by creditors
and open the broad speedway of progress for competent, impartial administration. The absence of legislation to deal with personal bankruptcy opens a yawning gap in our commercial laws and it is this drawback that this Insolvency Bill is designed to arrest. Mr. Speaker, a great deal of benefits will be reaped from the Insolvency Bill and I would seek your permission to make reference to a few of them and then allow debate to continue.
Mr. Speaker, among the benefits is
that, insolvency proceedings will halt civil proceedings by or against the debtor; and clauses 12 and 19 deal appropriately with this. Again, in clauses 66 and 73 of the Bill, the duties of the representative of the deceased insolvent are taken over by an official trustee that is created under clause 1 of the Bill.
Mr. Speaker, with these few comments I beg to move that the Bill be read a Second time.
Question proposed.
Chairman of the Committee (Mr. Kwame Osei-Prempeh) 11:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I beg to present your Committee's Report. Mr. Speaker, it is a nine -page report. I pray that the Hansard captures the whole Report while I read just paragraphs 4 and 5 and the conclusion.
The insolvency Bill was laid before Parliament on Wednesday, 22nd June 2005 and subsequently referred to the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for consideration and report pursuant to article 106(4)(5) and (6) of the Constitution and Standing Order 179 of the House.
Minister for the Interior (Papa Owusu-Ankomah) 11:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the Insolvency Bill is long overdue. One of the grey areas in our law that has stultified the development of business is the absence of the Insolvency Law. Indeed, over the years our business people have not even been able to develop any awareness of the laws of insolvency because customarily and culturally we always view insolvency as
Mr. Osei-Prempeh 11:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I
was rising on a point of order. It seems that unfortunately he has not read the whole Bill because if he had read it, he would have seen that what he is saying is incorporated in the Bill. Either the person would voluntarily go for insolvency proceedings or his creditors filing for insolvency proceedings and taking steps to protect other creditors of the insolvent and his property. So Mr. Speaker that is catered for. I believe that if he reads it - we would be pleased to welcome any amendments the he may want to propose at the Consideration Stage.
Mr. Osei-Adjei 11:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am in
full agreement with my hon. Friend. What we want is to get the best way forward. So if it has been taken care of then I must accept that it is quite in order.
Question put and motion agreed to.
The Insolvency Bill was accordingly read the Second time.
Minister for Parliamentary Affairs/ Majority Leader (Mr. F. K. Owusu- Adjapong) 11:15 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, as we indicated this morning, the Joint Committee on Finance and Road Transport is expected to look at this loan for the buses, and this is the proper time for us to adjourn to enable them look at it for presentation possibly tomorrow or the next day. I therefore move that this House do now adjourn till tomorrow at ten o'clock in the morning.
Deputy Majority Leader (Mr. A. O.
Aidooh): Mr. Speaker, I beg to second
the motion.
Question put and motion agreed to.
ADJOURNMENT 11:15 a.m.