Debates of 11 Mar 2008

PRAYERS 10:02 a.m.


Mr. Speaker 10:02 a.m.
Hon. Members, we have in this House a parliamentary delegation from Niger. The delegation is headed by the First Deputy Speaker, hon. Issake Diégoulé Hassane. Other Members are as follows:
Hon. Moussa Salé -- MP
Hon. Mamadou Diallo Abdourahmane -- MP
Hon. Kalla Ankouraou -- MP
Hon. Hamidil Alio -- MP
They are accompanied by the Deputy Clerk, Mr. Rabiou Nafiou and the Protocol Officer, Mr. Abdou Boubacar.
Hon. Members, I welcome you to the House and I wish you a pleasant and enjoyable stay in ghana.

Mr. Speaker 10:02 a.m.
Hon. Members , Correction of Votes and proceedings of Friday, 7th March, 2008. [No corrections were made.]
Hon. Members, we have the Official


Mr. Ernest Debrah 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, since the beginning of this year 2008, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and other donors designed a project to support dry season production in the three northern regions. The Ministry is currently distributing water pumps, PVC pipes, seeds, fertilizers and pesticides to several farmer groups in the three northern regions to support production before the rains start.
Furthermore, since many farmers lost their crops during last year's floods, it is expected that they will not have seed and other planting materials for the 2008 production year. My Ministry is making all efforts to supply planting materials to all such farmers who were affected by the 2007 drought and floods.
For the 2008 year, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture plans to provide support for the production of selected commodities in all regions of the country, the three northern regions included. This
will involve the provision of production inputs that are meant to demonstrate the effectiveness of various technologies to farmers.
Mr. Bayirga 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, can the Minister tell this House how many farmers are in each of the three northern regions?
Mr. Debrah 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I cannot tell the exact number now but those that were affected by the floods are being supported.
Mr. Bayirga 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, in his Answer, he said those that are affected by the floods. Is it only those areas that were flooded during last year's flooding or other farmers' groups will benefit from it?
Mr. Debrah 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I think in my Answer, I looked at two categories. One category is those that were directly affected by the floods. They are being supported to do dry season farming with farming inputs -- fertilizers, pesticides, seeds and others. I also drew attention to the fact that the Ministry is going to support groups of farmers to do selected cropping throughout the whole country and the northern sector of the country.
The Northern Region, Upper East and Upper West Regions are also included. They are to be supported to produce certain selected commodities for the country. So there are two categories; those that were directly affected by the floods last year are being supported. In addition, farmers' groups will again be supported for best practices throughout the country.
Mr. Moses Dani Baah 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Minister what type of crops the farmers are growing now.
Mr. Debrah 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I know that they are growing crops like tomatoes,
onions, water melon and cowpea.
Mr. Imoro Yakubu 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the Minister said that his Ministry is making all efforts to support farmers with planting materials, and looking at last year's drought, it is not a matter of planting alone. You have to plough before you plant. So what has the Ministry got in place to support the farmers in terms of ploughing?
Mr. Debrah 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, farmers lost their planting materials through drought and floods and so the Ministry is going to support them free of charge with planting materials. But the farmers are supposed to prepare the land themselves.
Mr. Speaker 10:10 a.m.
Question 1410.
Asantekwaa Irrigation Project
Q. 1410. Mr. Stephen Kunsu asked the Minister for Food and Agriculture the current status of the Asantekwaa Irrigation Project near Kintampo.
Mr. Debrah 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the Asantekwaa Irrigation Scheme is one of the 26 irrigation schemes being constructed under the Small Scale Irrigation Development Project of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. The construction is funded by the African Development Bank and government of ghana. The beneficiaries of this scheme are the small scale farmers in Asantekwaa and its surrounding communities.
A contract was signed on 12 th November 2003, between the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and Messrs. Brazz Construction Works Limited (the contractor). The construction works were programmed for completion in two years, precisely by December 2005.
The civil works comprising the construction of pump house, intake
Mr. Kunsu 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, is the Minister aware that the original agreement included a fish pond component?
Mr. Debrah 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I am not aware that the original agreement included that.
Mr. Kunsu 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to find out whether the Minister has been able to go through the original agreement himself.
Mr. Debrah 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I have not seen the original agreement but what I have seen does not include a fish pond.
Mr. Kunsu 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want the Minister to know that there was a fish pond component in the agreement and that has been cancelled. And I would like to know why it was cancelled.
Mr. Debrah 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I will find out whether the original agreement included a fish pond and if it does, then I will let him know why it has been cancelled.
Mr. Speaker 10:10 a.m.
Hon. Member, this is a hypothetical question and it is not allowed.
Mr. J. K. Gidisu 10:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, in the Answer of the Minister, he noted that 26 of such dams have been awarded on contract and they are supposed to be completed
by December 2005. I would want to find out from the Minister how many of those dams have been completed so far since the 2005 deadline has passed, almost getting to three years now.
Mr. Debrah 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I did not state that contracts for all the 26 dams were awarded in 2003 to be completed in 2005.
Mr. Speaker, with your permission, let me quote what I said 10:20 a.m.
“A contract was signed on 12th November 2003, between the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and Messrs. Brazz Construction Works Limited (the contractor).”
And that refers to this particular Asantekwaa Irrigation scheme. The projects span a number of years and the contracts are awarded at different periods of time. So all the contracts are not due to be completed in 2005.
Mr. Speaker 10:20 a.m.
Question number 1411 -- hon. Stephen Kunsu, Member of Parliament for Kintampo North.
Farms Destroyed in Kintampo North Constituency
(Compensation to farmers)
Q. 1411. Mr. Stephen Kunsu asked the Minister for Food and Agriculture what steps the Ministry was taking to seek compensation for farmers whose farms were destroyed some three years ago during the construction of the New Longoro Irrigation Project in the Kintampo North Constituency.
Mr. Debrah 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the New Longoro Irrigation Scheme is one of the 26 Irrigation schemes being constructed under the Small Scale Irrigation Project in the country. Funding for the construction
Mr. Kunsu 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I want to know whether the hon. Minister has ever received any complaint or petition from aggrieved farmers who are not members of the Irrigation Farmers Association (IFA).
Mr. Debrah 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, as far as I can remember, I have not received any petition from any of the farmers.
Mr. Yieleh Chireh 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minister continues to mention the 26 irrigation schemes. I want to know when the contracts were awarded.
Mr. Debrah 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the contracts were awarded at different dates. The small scale irrigation scheme is a project funded by the African Development Bank (ADB) and government of ghana. So it was supposed to last for a certain number of years -- I think five years. So all the irrigation projects were not awarded in one day. If the hon. Member wants the dates at which the various 26 projects were awarded on contract, I will make that available to him. But I cannot remember the dates, as I stand here.
Mr. Speaker 10:20 a.m.
Question number 1412 -- hon. Member for Kintampo North?
New Longoro Irrigation Project (Current Status)
Q. 1412. Mr. Stephen Kunsu asked the Minister for Food and Agriculture the current status of the New Longoro Irrigation Project at New Longoro near Kintampo.
Mr. Debrah 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the contract for the New Longoro Small Scale Irrigation Scheme was awarded in October 2002. The start date for the work was 11th November 2002 and it was scheduled for completion by December 2005. The project was extended to 2006, and due to poor performance by the contractor (Messrs Uniquesco Ltd.), the contract was terminated in June 2007 and readvertised in August 2007. A new contract has been signed on 22nd January 2008 with Messrs SAT Engineering Ltd. to complete the works by July ending 2008.
Mr. Kunsu 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, according to the hon. Minister, the New Longoro Irrigation Project was expected to be completed in 2005 but the various contractors who were on the job failed the nation. What assurance will he give the people of ghana that the latest contractor will live up to expectation?
Mr. Debrah 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the contract was first awarded to a contractor who failed the nation. As a result, the contract has been terminated. And we have selected or looked for a contractor who has been performing on some of our irrigation schemes and who has worked to our satisfaction. We anticipate and we hope that this time round, the contractor will work to our anticipation. So I think by the close of July 2008, if everything goes well, the contract will be completed.
Mr. S. M. E. K. Ackah 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, could the hon. Minister tell us exactly the extent of work that has been completed so far, so that within the four months left, between now and July, we are sure that the contractor can finish the job?
Mr. Debrah 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I think that so far, he has completed the reservoir that is supposed to take the water. He has completed all the channels. What are left to be completed are the pump house and the installation of the pump.
Mr. Alfred Abayateye 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, from the hon. Minister's Answer, I would like to ask him what is being done to the contractor who failed the nation by wasting resources. What is being done to that contractor?
Mr. Debrah 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, when we award a contract, the contractor signs a performance bond and if the contractor does not work to our satisfaction and the contract is terminated, then we call in the bond and the contractor pays the penalty. So we have exactly done that and the payment would be made to the African Development Bank.
Mr. Speaker 10:20 a.m.
Question number 1426 -- hon. Member for Techiman South?
Mr. George Arthur 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member is not in the House and has asked me to seek your permission to ask the Question on his behalf. He has been called to the constituency to undertake an equally important assignment.
Mr. Speaker 10:20 a.m.
Has he requested you to ask this Question on his behalf?
Mr. Arthur 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker 10:20 a.m.
When was this done?
Mr. Arthur 10:20 a.m.
Just this morning.
Mr. Speaker 10:20 a.m.
go ahead.
The Techiman Tomato Factory (Commissioning)
Q. 1426. Mr. George Arthur (on behalf of Mr. Simons Addai) asked the Minister for Food and Agriculture when the tomato factory in Techiman will be commissioned.
Mr. Debrah 10:20 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) proposed the Tomato Processing Promotion Centre (TPPC) project in 2002, in Techiman as a pilot project to reduce the high post harvest losses being incurred by the tomato farmers in that locality. Initial budgetary constraints resulted in delays in the start of the project.
Mr. Speaker, it took almost two years to get additional support from the Italian government to continue with the procurement processes. The existing structure could not accommodate the steam boiler and thus necessitated the reconstruction of the boiler house which is still ongoing. This has caused the delay in the installation programme too.
Mr. Speaker, the processing plant which was imported from Italy is already at the project site in Techiman ready for installation.
A transformer has been installed and extension of power to the factory will be completed by the end of March 2008. Thereafter, installation of the plant utilities will be carried out.
Commissioning of Project
Commissioning of the TPPC Project should follow soon after the completion of the plant installation, hopefully in August 2008 when tomato for test trial will be available in the system.
Mr. Speaker 10:20 a.m.
Hon. Minister for Food and Agriculture, thank you very much for appearing to answer these Questions. You are discharged.

Hon. Deputy Minister for the Interior, you may go ahead.
STATEMENTS 10:30 a.m.

Mr. Haruna Iddrisu (NDC -- Tamale South) 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to make a brief comment on what I may describe as the aborted Statement of the hon. Deputy Minister for the Interior on the Bawku crisis and the fact that as a country we need to take immediate and urgent steps to save further loss of lives, and destruction of property in the Bawku area. Indeed, I got back from northern ghana only this morning and we are all deeply distressed by the developments in Bawku.
Mr. Speaker, I would again want to say that we are also not happy -- indeed, I should say that we are disappointed at the handling of the issue by the Ministry. The mere fact that the Minister had to withdraw his Statement, in our strongest view, suggests that he is not adequately and properly informed about develop-ments in Bawku -- [Interruption] -- If indeed he was, he would have proceeded to make his Statement. If he were balancing his intelligence sources, he should at every point in time -- Indeed what he told this House was that there is a state of emergency; let this House be accordingly informed -- [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker 10:30 a.m.
Hon. Member for Tamale South, please it is a Statement so just comment because we do not want to have any debate.
Mr. H. Iddrisu 10:30 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, we are distressed; we are worried; we are concerned. It is not the issue of surge on numbers, whether you have expanded the number of military presence or police presence in Bawku. We should be looking for key answers to finding genuine and lasting peace, whilst pursuing justice and also upholding the rule of law, ensuring that people respect government institutions. We would do everything to support the government to nib in the bud any attempt by any person in that area to want to disturb the peace of that area.
Mr. Speaker, I am minded to make reference to an earlier Statement which hon. Ndebugre made on this floor which was in reference to a peace initiative facilitated by the Catholic Diocese -- the Damongo Agreement and Accord in respect of Bawku.
I think the hon. Minister for the Interior must consider bringing the parties once again together to dialogue and to accept the fact that it is not through violence that they would find answers to whatever grievances or problems they may have with issues as to who is the overlord, who is not, who has the right to declare himself as a legitimate chief.
There are court rulings on it and I do not want to make a comment prejudicial to them. But I want to assure the hon. Minister that they must be on the ground and their intelligence must be right. But apart from beefing up security, they would need to sit the parties together -- the Mamprusis, the Kusasis and other ethnic groups in the area -- be they Dagombas or Moshies or Bimobas so that we can
revisit the Damongo Accord and see how we would avoid the destabilization of our national peace and security on the basis of an ethnic or a chieftaincy related conflict.
It is very regrettable and very unfortunate that at every point in time -- Bawku in the Upper East and many areas are the most deprived in our country. My heart bleeds when I have the opportunity to instead of talking about how we get development there, we are talking about how to avoid conflicts in those areas.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity but to the hon. Minister, I hope tomorrow, with the indulgence of Mr. Speaker, this House would be interested in knowing from the government sources what is it that is happening in Bawku and what is it that the government is doing to help the peace of that area. Thank you for the opportunity.
Mr. J. A. Ndebugre (PNC -- Zebilla) 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I was not in the Chamber when the hon. Deputy Minister made the Statement because he hinted me that fresh hostilities had been reported. I was therefore frantically trying to get in touch with the ground to find out what was happening.
Mr. Speaker, I have a rough idea of what the hon. Deputy Minister would have said. We were preparing to come here and thank the Minister for the Interior for having reviewed the curfew hours from 5.00 p.m. to 5.00 a. m. now to 8.00 p.m. to 5.00 a.m.

Mr. Speaker, just before the hon. Deputy Minister took the stand to make the Statement, we had this information that something else had happened. We have ascertained what is happening there, more or less. In fact, I have just spoken to the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) who is right now on the ground where the
Mr. J. A. Ndebugre (PNC -- Zebilla) 10:40 a.m.

incident took place; he is there with the military and the police.

Two gentlemen were travelling on motorcycle to a market just beyond the border at Bitu in Burkina Faso. They go there every market day to buy animals, goats and sheep to come and retail in Bawku. Last night, there had been some burning and the Municipal Chief Executive informs me that he, the police and the military commanders went to the scene of the burning to inspect and they were there when they heard a gunshot.

So the military personnel who accompanied them rushed in the direction of where the gun short came from. When they got there they realized that two persons had been killed just fresh and then they wired back to the MCE and the commanders. They are right now on the spot there and I have had discussions with other persons on the ground in Bawku and it appears that it was some armed robbers taking advantage of the security situation to rob people.

Nii Amasah Namoale: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member who is on the floor is telling us hearsay stories. He was not there; it is not official. The police has not told us anything. The hon. Minister himself is here but he has not told us anything. Besides, the hon. Member is the hon. Member of Parliament for Zebilla; he is not a Member of Parliament for Bawku so what he is telling us are stories.

So I think he should allow the police or
Mr. Speaker 10:40 a.m.
That is not a point of order.
Mr. Ndebugre 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I believe that my hon. Colleague is talking from absolute ignorance because I am the spokesman for the Kusasi group, and if he had been reading the newspapers he would realize that the quarrel is not about Bawku; it is about who is in control, whether the Kusasi or Mamprusi in the Bawku area and not Bawku town. So if the hon. Member is from Dade Kotopon which is about 1,000 kilometres away - he should avoid saying things that he does not know.
I am the official spokesman of the Kusasi group and when the hon. Minister for the Interior hinted me about what had happened in the last few hours, I had to go out; and I am telling the House that I have spoken to the Municipal Chief Executive who is an officer of State. So he cannot tell me that I am telling this House hearsay or giving hearsay evidence. I am speaking in my authority and capacity as the spokesperson of the Kusasi group. [Hear! Hear!] So Mr. Speaker, I am saying that - [Inter-ruption.]
Mr. J. Y. Chireh 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Mr. Speaker, because the hon. Member was not here, the hon. Minister promised to brief us after getting all the information from the ground. So I would urge my senior brother to rest his case and let us hear from the official source. That is my point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker 10:40 a.m.
The point is well made. Hon. Member, you may wish to - [Interruption.]
Mr. Ndebugre 10:40 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I only
Mr. Speaker 10:40 a.m.
Hon. Member for Zebilla, please, conclude.
Mr. Ndebugre 10:40 a.m.
That is so, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, for as long as there is insecurity in the place, as hon. Haruna was saying, certain elements would take advantage of the situation. That was the basis upon which I was giving these few details. So we were preparing to come here and thank the hon. Minister for the Interior for having reviewed the curfew hours and we still appeal to the hon. Minister to tarry slowly in reviewing again the curfew hours negatively because efforts are on the ground to make sure that these few incidents do not deteriorate.
So we should watch the situation for a few hours - 24 or 36 hours to see if anything untoward would happen. If nothing happens, we would plead with the hon. Minister to retain the present curfew hours from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. so that life can slowly pick up again in the Bawku Municipality and its environs.
With these few words, Mr. Speaker, I support the Statement.
Carnage on our Roads
Mr. James Appietu-Ankrah (NPP - Lower West Akim) 10:40 a.m.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to make a Statement on the Carnage on our Roads and the contribution that the use of mobile phones whilst driving has made recently.
Mr. Speaker, the benefit that the mobile phone usage has brought to the telecommunication sector cannot be over- emphasized. The subscriber numbers have crossed the seven million mark for all the
network operators in the country.
Indeed, it is said that for every ten commercial vehicle drivers who ply our roads these days, five of them possess mobile phones. Again, for every ten private drivers, eight of them use mobile phones.
Mr. Speaker, there is the dark side of the mobile phone phenomenon, that is the danger posed by the use of mobile phones whilst driving.
Mr. Speaker, the government is doing everything possible to improve the specifications of our major and arterial roads. The joint enforcement operations of the National Road Safety Committee (NRSC), the various transport unions, the police, the District/Municipal Assemblies and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) has not yielded the desired results, that is, the broader national vision of making ghana's road transportation system the safest in Africa. ghana's National Road Safety Com- mission is aiming at reducing fatality rate of road traffic accidents from 22 deaths per 10,000 vehicles by 2015.
Mr. Speaker, the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) and other stake- holders, in their effort to draw the attention of drivers to areas that contribute to these unfortunate road traffic accidents, have identified drunk-driving, over-speeding, careless driving, non-observance of road traffic rules and regulations, the non- wearing of seatbelts and crash helmets, unnecessary overtaking, impatience and indiscipline on our roads and mechanical faults as the major contributors to road traffic accidents.
Mr. Speaker, the use of mobile phones whilst driving which appears to have escaped equal attention is increasingly becoming one of the major causes of fatal accidents on our roads.
Mr. Speaker, it is for very good reasons that many countries have laws banning the use of mobile phones whilst driving.
Mr. Speaker, a British Minister was caught speaking on his mobile phone in London and was given an on-the-spot fine last November. Just last month a motorist who was texting on his mobile phone and killed a cyclist in the process was sentenced to four years imprisonment in London. Such is the seriousness the British government and the people attach to this phenomenon.
Mr. Speaker, there are no statistical figures of accidents caused through this phenomenon of using a mobile phone whilst driving in ghana. However, it is a common sight to see drivers on our highways, cities and towns driving whilst using their mobile phones.
Mr. Speaker, one does not have to
wait to have some bad experience before taking remedial measures. Every single life in this country is precious and must be protected.
Mr. Speaker, it is in this light that I call on the government to initiate a Bill to make it an offence to use a mobile phone whilst driving on our roads.
Mr. Speaker, I have no doubt in my mind that this move will receive the supports from this august House.
Mr. Speaker, all of us must be thankful that we are living today. Who knows who may be the next victim of an accident caused by a driver speaking on a mobile phone whilst driving?
Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to make this Statement.
Mr. David Oppon 10:50 a.m.

Ayirebi/Ofoase): Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to contribute to this very important Statement made by my hon. Friend from Lower West Akyem. Mr. Speaker, safety or the lack of it is a major issue of concern on our roads. The institution that has been mandated to look after our safety is the National Road Safety Commission. But my question is, how far does its mandate go? How powerful is this institution in ensuring our safety on the roads and in stopping the carnage on roads?

The National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) is supposed to be the brain of our safety whilst the Driver Vehicle and Licensing Authority (DVLA) and the Motor Traffic Transport Unit (MTTU) of the ghana Police are supposed to be the people who implement and then enforce our safety regulations. We cannot also discount the role that road agencies play in ensuring safety in terms of their design and construction. Mr. Speaker, but if these agencies do not play their part, what power does the NRSC have in ensuring that they play their part?

Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw a parallel between the NRSC and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A few years back, this agency had very little teeth to bite until a legislation gave it the power to enforce environmental issues. As we speak no matter the urgency, whether it is government agency or whoever, if you do not have an Environmental Impact Assessment Certificate, you cannot go ahead and touch the environment.

A case in point is the situation where for a very long time road construction between Nkrumah Circle and Achimota could not go on because the Department of Urban Roads (DUR) had not obtained the appropriate Environmental Impact Assessment Certificate. Even though they are also a government agency, they
Mr. David Oppon 11 a.m.
had enough power to ensure that the right thing was done.
I think the NRSC must be given similar powers to ensure that those who have been given the mandate to ensure compliance on our road safety do so, and then when they fail to do so, they can then question them. Mr. Speaker, I am talking of a situation where the NRSC has power to either question or even send to court the police, for example, for allowing a vehicle that is obviously overloaded to come from, say, Afram Plains, through all its checkpoints into Accra.
The NRSC itself cannot go and arrest, but it will have the power to question the police authorities as to why they failed to do their duty. In the same way, if a rickety vehicle is found with a valid road worthy certificate from the DVLA, the NRSC can take it on legally to find out how they could license such a vehicle when everybody knows or when it is proven that it is not road worthy.
Mr. Speaker, again it should have power to stop construction work or even to review a design for a highway or urban road, if it feels that safety concerns have not been addressed. Mr. Speaker, until we give this power to the NRSC, they will remain a toothless bulldog. Safety must be a major concern, and we should all give power to the NRSC; let them have enough power to question the police when they fail to do their duty, to question the DVLA when they fail to do their duty, to question the road agencies when their designs and construction methods pose danger and threat on road.
Mr. Speaker, recently on my way
from Asamankese I saw that there was a contract that had been given for the construction of a drain along the highway,
and the contractor apart from having excavated and heaped materials on the road side, has also heaped his gravels and chippings on the roadside, reducing the road by more than two-thirds. If proper care had been taken this contractor could have been instructed to batch the concrete somewhere and use a dumper or some other means to carry the concrete instead of blocking the road and making it very unsafe for passengers.
Mr. Speaker, for example, on the road to Kumasi, you can see a vehicle that has been parked for months because you can see election posters still on the car. Some people still use the road as workshops so that when a vehicle breaks down, they can take as long as a month to remove a gearbox, to remove an engine, block the road with a spare tyre, narrow the road and cause all kinds of inconvenience to passers-by.
Sometimes, when you see a parked articulated vehicle, your heart jumps out, because you know that in the next minute or next hour, a vehicle which is overspeeding or which does not know might run into it. And true to it, before you come back, you will see a broken glass there, or something to show that an accident has occurred. These are issues of concern, and the NRSC must be given the power, if they present anything to this Parliament to be able to enforce safety and make sure that our roads are safe.
Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the
Dr. Kwame Ampofo (NDC -- South
Dayi): Mr. Speaker, I rise to add my voice to the Statement made by my hon. Colleague. I do so because I find the Statement to be very important and relevant to the current carnage on our roads. Before I make my contribution I want to state that the maker of the
Statement did not make a Statement on road accidents in general.
But he made a specific connection between road accidents and mobile phone usage. Indeed, in his Statement, he rightly identified the various causes of road accidents, some of which he rightly stated as over-speeding, due to maybe the poor state of the road themselves, and the engineering of the road. He even attributed some to the mechanical breakdown of the vehicles themselves, drunkenness, et cetera. And then he added that another important cause of the road accident is the usage of mobile phone whilst driving, and then he zoomed onto this.
So when we a re mak ing our contributions, it is important to limit ourselves to this important linkage. The correlation, I do not know if some statistical analysis has been done on this, but if it has been done, I will not be surprised to find a positive correlation between the number of accidents that happened linked with phone usage. So I would likely to specifically zoom in on this aspect because it is a common sight. It is an area where accidents can be avoided if the right legislation is passed against the usage of mobile phones because this type of legislation exist in many countries.
Driving is such an activity that requires almost all the senses of the human anatomy. You need your sense of sight; you need your sense of hearing, even touch. In addition to that, you need your presence of mind for your concentration, you need to have good judgment, and you need to have all your limbs -- the two legs and the two hands. So if you are to engage in another important activity such as communication where you use one hand to hold a mobile phone --
I am aware that these days, technology has made it such that you can speak on the phone without using your hand but your concentration is already divided, your hearing has been partly impaired because you are listening to somebody else, and this is a major distraction on the road. Many cars have run off the road before me; I have seen it happen myself. It has happened to me when I lost concentration and found out that yes, the mobile phone can, and is actually a major distracter to drivers' concentration.
Mr. Speaker, having said this, I will ask,
why is it that we are not able to control this kind of menace on the road when it is completely controllable? I would like to give two examples. When you go to any bank, there is a sign there that you cannot use your mobile phones, another area where there are signs that you cannot use your mobile phones are the filling stations. But in these two situations, you will find out that there is compliance in one situation, that is in the banks. But there is non-compliance at the filling stations, these are my observations.

The reason is that in the banks the security people are there to tell you to stop. Only yesterday I was in the bank, and a gentleman was quietly talking on the phone. The security man spotted him, went to him, tapped him on the shoulder and told him to get out or stop using the phone. He complied, he obliged. At the filling stations I see people talking when they are being dispensed with fuel.

That is another dangerous thing because it can cause electro-static sparks and fires can emanate out of simply using your mobile phone at the filling station. But because of lack of knowledge or understanding of the process or because of lack of enforcement, you would find
Mr. David Oppon 11 a.m.

people at the filling stations using the mobile phones.

The same thing is happening with the usage of mobile phones whilst driving. The only way to do it is to enforce it. But to enforce what? To enforce a law. Is there any law that prohibits that? I do not think so.

So I think we must start with this Statement made by the hon. Member for Lower West Akim, Mr. Appietu-Ankrah to bring a Bill to this House. Perhaps, he could initiate it and I would support him, as a Private Member's Bill. We have to pass it in this House then we can complain if enforcement is not done. Otherwise, we would just be talking about the issue over and over again. Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity.
Mr. Hackman Owusu-Agyemang (NPP - New Juaben North) 11:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I thank you very much for the opportunity and at the same time I would like to thank my colleague for bringing this issue to the fore. Indeed, the situation is so grey that we do need to take urgent action. I am inclined to believe that putting in place legislation and what-have- you would even take too long a time. I have been victim of several circumstances where the driver on the other side, because I was being driven, had done what he had done because he or she was on a mobile phone.
Mr. Speaker, when I was in the Ministry of the Interior, I sought to bring legislation but I was so advised that even within the context of the existing regulations it can be enforced, because the road traffic ordinance or whatever, there is provision for it; it is a matter of enforcement and it a matter of discipline in this society and I believe the enforcement and discipline must go hand-in-hand. If we want to wait
until we fashion a Bill and it becomes a law -
We are losing too many people and the younger people are sometimes driving at about 60 60 kilometres an hour and still on the phone. I believe that we should protect them against their own selves and against the community.
I would like to suggest that the hon. Minister for the Interior should urgently review the law and request the Motor Transport and Traffic Unit (MTTU) and the ghana Road Safety Commission to issue specific instructions to say that anybody who is caught driving and at the same time on the phone can be stopped and fined. I think the on-the-sport fine, if I am right - the hon. Minister for Finance is near me here - it can be done and it must be done and I believe that as I said, it is a matter of discipline and a will on our part to do that.
I wanted to stretch the whole thing to road architecture also in this country, but on the advice of Dr. Ampofo that we should concentrate on the cellular phone for today I will leave it at that and come out with a definitive Statement later.
I join my hon. Colleague legislators to request the hon. Minister, within the shortest possible time, to come out with directives instructing the police, the MTTU, the Road Safety Commission to say that anybody caught driving and speaking on the phone commits an offence. It is there, Mr. Speaker, so we do not need to reinvent the wheel. Let us enforce the regulation. It would save a lot of our young lives as well as some of the older lives too. I believe it is a Statement in the right direction which commends itself to the House for absolute support and for discipline to happen in this country.
Capt. N. Effah-Dartey (retd): Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to contribute to this Statement on road safety
generally. As the maker of the Statement rightly pointed out, safety on our roads leads to the protection of both the users, passengers and by-standers. In general, it goes to promote growth in the economy because it keeps our people alive. Indeed, a lot of time and resources are spent in just curing the sick who suffer from road accidents and so to talk about road safety generally is in the right direction.
Mr. Speaker, contributors so far have talked about the menace of mobile phone usage as regards driving. The law, when it was being passed at that time, the signs of mobile phone usage had not emerged. But now it is a reality that mobile phone is accepted worldwide as part of our daily lives. The question now is what do we do vis-à-vis the use of mobile phones and the act of driving? I was particularly happy when my hon. Colleague from South Dayi, Dr. Ampofo clearly showed the use of the total mindset whilst driving and how any slight distraction can be very, very fatal.
Mr. Speaker, let us look at a very real situation where somebody like a taxi driver is driving with passengers in the car on a crowded road and then he gets a mobile phone call. In the process of taking the call, the road is so busy that anything can happen at anytime. Indeed, Mr. Speaker, most accidents are cause because of wrong judgement in the nick of time; within just a split second, an accident can take place. That is why it is very important for us as a legislature to look at the issue of the use of mobile phones vis-à-vis the act of driving.
Mr. Speaker, it has been pointed out and I think it is necessary to make it clear that the existing regulation; road traffic Act to be precise, makes clear provision that anything that would distract the attention of a driver at any material moment must not be encouraged and indeed offends
the law. So the question is whether as it is now we need to expand the law and be extremely very specific in terms of the use of mobile phones or we should proceed under the existing general ban on acts of distraction.
Mr. Speaker, I would go in for a step that would emphasise specifically the use of mobile phones. In some countries, to be precise, in places like Britain or America, it has been made explicitly clear that if you are in the act of driving do not use mobile phone; it is not a question of it being by implication or by trying to define any existing law. I will go in for a situation where we as a House demonstrating concern for this rising menace and showing concern for the lives of our fellow-ghanaians would come out with a piece of legislation that would strictly concentrate on the issue of mobile phones vis-à-vis the act of driving.
Mr. Speaker, whilst still talking about safety on our roads one thing that beats my mind and I think I want to say it is the issue of so many security checkpoints on our roads. Especially when darkness falls, in the evenings, and you are driving both in towns or on our highways you come face to face with unexpected checkpoints.
Now the question is, these check- points, are they there just to motion us to continue or are they there to check security in terms of whether somebody is carrying weapons or some prohibited material? Basically, what are they checking? I find it difficult to understand.

I was having a discussion the other day with a security Coporal who said that in fact, it is better to have more policemen on patrols checking anti-armed robbery rather than to have them on our roads and our highways as if they are checking security whilst in actual fact, the people are out maneuvering them. I would go in to say that there is the need for us to take a
Mr. Speaker 11:10 a.m.
At the Commencement of Public Business -- Item 5 -- Presentation and First Reading of Bills.
Minister for Finance and Economic Planning (Mr. Baah-Wiredu) 11:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker in doing so, I beg to withdraw the earlier Bill presented for the First Reading on the 3rd of December, 2007 and then substitute that with what we are presenting today on today's Order Paper.

PAPERS 11:10 a.m.

Mr. K. A. Okerchiri 11:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, we cannot take items 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15. Mr. Speaker, I respectfully ask that we adjourn this Sitting till tomorrow at ten o'clock in the forenoon.
Ms. Akua Sena Dansua 11:10 a.m.
Mr. Speaker, I beg to second the motion for adjournment.
Question put and motion agreed to.
ADJOURNMENT 11:10 a.m.