Debates of 4 Jun 2015

PRAYERS 12:05 p.m.


Mr Speaker 12:05 p.m.
Hon Members Correction of Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 3rd June, 2015. Page 1, page 2 - [Interruption] -
Dr Anthony Akoto Osei 12:05 p.m.
Mr Speaker, I do not know about my Hon Colleagues but I came in early and we did not get any Votes and Proceedings. I do not know if they are now distributing them.
Mr Speaker 12:05 p.m.
Hon Members, do you have your Votes and Proceedings?
Mr Ahmed Ibrahim 12:05 p.m.
Yes, Mr Speaker. They are in the pigeon holes.
  • [No correction was made to the Votes and Proceedings of Wednesday, 3rd June, 2015]
  • Mr Speaker 12:05 p.m.
    Yes, Hon Majority Chief Whip?
    Alhaj i Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka: Mr Speaker, I want to come under Order 53(2) to seek your leave and that of the House for us to vary the Order of Business for today to enable us
    Mr Speaker 12:15 p.m.
    Very well.
    STATEMENTS 12:15 p.m.

    Mr Speaker 12:15 p.m.
    Hon Members, one of
    the reasons we entered the Chamber late
    this morning was to see how to fashion out a Statement on the floor of the House, and thereafter we would take some consequential measures. After that the House would come back and decide the way forward.
    So what I would like to do is that, I would take two from each side, and afterwards discuss with Leadership as to what we would do after the Statement.
    So, I would take one now from the Minority, and then I would come back to the Majority side.
    Hon Deputy Minority Whip?
    Mrs Irene N. T.Addo (NPP--Tema West) 12:25 p.m.
    Thank you,Mr Speaker, for this opportunity to add my voice to the Statement ably made by the Hon Majority Chief Whip.
    Mr Speaker, today is indeed a sad day, and a sad day is today. The number of people reported dead is something that I do not remember has ever happened in the history of this country on a single occasion such as this. I would like to extend my sympathy to the families who have lost their relatives and those who have lost their homes.
    Mr Speaker, as the Hon Majority Chief Whip said, there was a particular picture that came out among all the various catastrophes, and it was a picture of a mother and an infant. My understanding was that the child could have been a year or two. It looks to me the child was clutching for help, so you can see the child holding on to the mother, but there was no help.
    Mr Speaker, we have been aware of the situation of this country for quite a while, and it is about time that we came together as a country to take these flooding issues serious. We must set up a ministry, a committee, or a board to look into it other
    than the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), the time has come for us to do just that.
    Yesterday, thousands of people were under siege. I was under siege myself, and other Members of Parliament as well. Indeed, one of the female Members of Parliament almost got drowned yesterday. She had to leave her car and swim in the water for help. When she got to the office or the place where other people were she started crying out for help because the water was rising in the house and getting through the stairs.
    Hon Freda Prempeh went through a disastrous situation yesterday, and our hearts go to herself, her driver and her family who were with her.
    Mr Speaker, out of the many people who have died so far, many of them have been reported as women and children, the group that I call vulnerable in this country. I think certain steps need to be taken.
    I am not saying that there is going to be flooding all the time, but if swimming is something, a necessary sport that has to be undertaken in every school, then the time has come for every school to make arrangements to have some kind of swimming lessons, because we are being told that some of them who did not know how to swim could not help it and just fell in the water.
    It is time to begin to teach in our schools disaster subjects such as flooding. Houses are getting burnt because of this power outages and all that. The time has come for us to teach in our schools as compulsory, a subject as disaster relief programmes, so that every child and every adult will know what to do in such circumstances. This is because, indeed, I believe that some of these people could
    have been saved if they knew what to do at a particular time.
    Taking the story of the filling station, we were told that as the petrol began to mix with the flood - I believe if the people there had some education on what could happen in the next ten minutes as they stood by, perhaps, theywould have run to save their lives. But they just looked on - some attempted to sweep the place off, they tried to fetch out water and petrol mixed together. Little did they know that the moment that any sort of electricity or fire came out, they would all be dead.
    Mr Speaker, a lot of constituencies in this country, including Tema West are all flooded. I had to come out of my House last night to save a little boy of twelve years, who was drowning at the Lashibi area, and that almost cost my own life.
    The time has come,Mr Speaker, to save the citizens of this country. We should not pay lip service to what has happened and shove it under the table when the sun comes out tomorrow. We must take this very seriously, and work on it immediately.
    The Committee on Roads and Transport, of which I am a Member, needs to sit up to scrutinise the kind of engineers and road contractors that we have. It looks as if all the roads and drains that were certified as all right are all blocked. Something must be wrong, and we cannot wait for people to die in this country; women and children to suffer.
    There are thousands of women and children out there right now, who do not have a place to stay. It then becomes the problem of National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO). This is not one of the issues that NADMO can take care of. This is an issue which calls for an emergency solution.
    I was very happy when I heard this morning that His Execllency the President has asked the Minister for Finance to
    Mr Speaker 12:25 p.m.
    Hon Members, I know you are concerned. I know a number of you want to contribute to the Statement. Everybody has an experience about what happened yesterday. I have my own experience.
    After 10.00 p.m., I was at the Ghana National Fire Service Headquarters yesterday because, I received a distress call from some family members at Abelemkpe. We tried to get there but they were trapped; the water had virtually reached their necks and they strugged to come out.
    We have had some discussions with the Leaders this morning. Let us take contributions of the Leaders. I would announce it after the Statement, that we would want to go to the major scene of the event, which is the Kwame Nkrumah Circle. This is because, we represent the people and we cannot be here when our people are perishing. After that, if there are any other consequential steps that this House wants to take, then we can take them. But for now, we should just limit it to two people from each side of the House.
    Hon Fritz Baffour, Chairman of the Defence and the Interior Committee?
    Mr Fritz Frederic Baffour (NDC-- Ablekuma South) 12:25 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, thank you for giving me this opportunity to support the Statement made by the Hon
    Majority Chief Whip.
    I rise with a very heavy heart at the loss of countless citizens of the Republic of Ghana in what can be deemed, an avoidable accident.
    Yesterday, Accra went under a deluge of rain. And I think every single constituency in the metropolis was seriously affected.
    In fact, early this morning, I went round my own constituency and saw the mayhem and the damage that the rains had unleashed. Then I heard of the tragic and very unfortunate circumstances at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, where we lost a lot of people. The numbers are rising as to those who lost lives. My sympathy goes out to the families, friends and the people of Ghana at this great loss.
    In 1995, almost two decades today we also had floods of this magnitude. I think about 25 lives were lost in the floods that engulfed the same area -- the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, and we heard the refrain: Never again - and it happened. Why?
    Why should it happen? Why should we lose our loved ones in such a horrific manner? Are we doing our best to change our ways; the ways that inflict pain and sorrow on the families of the people of Ghana?
    If in 2015 we have not been able to do so since 1995, we should seriously think again. We should not pay lip service to the public safety of our people. All of us should endeavour to be our brothers and sisters keepers. We cannot allow impunity to rule this society because it is indiscipline.
    When I went to my constituency, houses had broken down and people had lost their belongings, and the people were homeless, the very reasons were the indiscipline, the unlawfulness, the disregard for our laws and our rules.
    Today, we are crying and the blame is on us; it is not on anybody else. We have to do our dumbest best this is not parliamentary language but I have to say that because, I am in pain that we stand or we sit here today as representatives of our people and we are mourning because of something that could have been avoided.
    We have to look at the drainage system in our country, we have to look at the way we build in this country, and we have to look at our planning laws. We are capable of it, it is not that we are not. Since today is a day of mourning, I will go easy on the blame game. This is because there is also a lack of science.
    I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the security services: the Ghana National Fire Service, Ghana Army, the Ghana Navy, the Ghana Air Force, NADMO and all the security agencies for the work they are doing right now to mitigate the circumstances.
    Mr Speaker, this Parliament should not sit silent. Action should be taken immediately, We should sit together, to forge a common goal of making this country safer for our citizens.It is our responsibility right to the core.
    On that note, Mr Speaker, I would like to thank you for giving me this opportunity to support the Statement.
    Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu (Suame NPP) 12:35 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, thank you very much for this opportunity to also associate myself with the Statement made by the Hon Majority Chief Whip, in respect of the events of last night--the flooding, the fire outbreaks and the lives that have been lost.
    Mr Speaker, this indeed is a Statement that qualifies to be described as one of an urgent public importance. What has befallen this nation is a real national tragedy. As we speak now, we are not even too certain of the numbers that are involved, and the souls that have perished.
    Mr Speaker 12:45 p.m.
    Hon Members, that brings us to the end of Statements.
    Hon Members, in the event of last night, lives were lost, so as is the normal practice of the House, we will observe a minute' silence in memory of those who lost their lives in the disaster of last night.
    Mr Speaker 12:45 p.m.
    May their souls rest in perfect peace.
    Alhaji Muntaka 12:45 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, in view of what has happened and as agreed, I beg to move, that this House stands adjourned -
    Mr Speaker 12:45 p.m.
    I thought you would make the announcement before you move the Motion for adjournment.
    Alhaji Muntaka 12:45 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, in view of what has happened, and as we have discussed and agreed among us as Leadership, we would want to crave your indulgence and that of the House for Mr Speaker to lead our team to visit the emergency sites. We have buses outside and would like to plead with Hon Members that the convoy should not be that long for it to look disrespectful. We plead with you to leave your vehicles here and join the bus so that we would go together. We would be very grateful if everybody would try to comply then we would be able to support Mr Speaker to go to the sites and come back. The buses are right in front of the Chamber block we would be moving straight to the place.We are adjourning simply because we would like to go and mourn with our fellow
    Mr Speaker 12:45 p.m.
    Let me hear from the Hon Minority Leader first, before the secondment of the Motion for adjournment.
    Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu 12:45 p.m.
    Mr Speaker, given what business we have transacted thus far which is private business, I thought that maybe, we would have space for Public Business and then truncate the business and move to the sites. So, given what issues that have arisen, I agree with the Hon Majority Chief Whip that we may not have to transact Public Business, though we agreed that we would enter into that arena. But we would not transact the business and for which reason Mr Speaker, I beg to second the Motion for adjournment until tomorrow at 10.00 o'clock in the forenoon, everything being equal.
    Mr Speaker 12:45 p.m.
    Hon Members, the
    Motion has been moved and seconded but before I put the Question, I direct that the business listed for today should be reprogrammed for tomorrow in line with the rules of the House.
    Hon Members, thank you very much for your support.
    Question put and Motion agreed to.
    ADJOURNMENT 12:45 p.m.