|Some participants at a workshop|
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
By: Afua Serwaa Boateng (MTN Corporate Communications )
MTN Ghana, the leading telecommunications company in Ghana officially closed its annual 21 days of Y’ello Care at a colorful ceremony held at Labone Senior High School last Thursday.
MTN Staff Volunteers engaged Business Students of Labone SHSin a forum where they shared insights on the benefits of savings and investments. Students at the forum were encouraged to adopt the principle of savings and investments early to guard their future. Taxation and how the tax system works in Ghana was also discussed.
Participants expressed their appreciation to MTN for making practical some of the theories they are currently learning in school.
Earlier in the week, MTN staff Volunteers engaged a number of institutions including the GIMPA business school. The General Manager for MTN Business Mr. Eric Nsarkoh, led discussion on “how Small-Scale and Medium-Scale Enterprises (SMEs) can be transformed in a technological Era”
Another session was also organized for Educational Accountants in Accra on how they could adopt the Mobile Money bill payment system to facilitate the payment of school fees by students in their various institutions.
Female managers at MTN also hosted a number of female students from selected Senior High Schools and tertiary institutions at a career fair held at its headquarters at Ridge in Accra. Depending on their areas of interest, these young female students were assigned to mentors where they had the opportunity to work with them for a day. The program was under the theme: “Girl Child Initiative & Career Fair”.
Speaking at the closing ceremony, Mr. Richard Acheampong, General Manager Marketing Services said, “I am happy that through 21 Days of Y’ello Care MTN Ghana has engaged with a great number of stakeholders on various topics”
“For us at MTN, education is key to the development of this country that is why we have committed our resources to transfer skills, share knowledge and build capacity among various stakeholder groups across the country” he added.
Mr. Acheampong also used the occasion to appreciate various stakeholders who supported Y’ello Care activities with their time and resources. He urged all MTN staff to continue in their efforts to impact their communities with the knowledge they have acquired through education to support the development of the country.
The 21 Days of Y’ello Care is an annual community enhancement programme which enables MTN staff across all 22 operating countries to set aside 21 days in the month of June from (1st – 21st) to volunteer and undertake community upliftment projects in the communities in which it operates.
The Global theme for this year is “Investing in Education”, and the sub theme for Ghana is “Education – A Tool for Development”.
Sunday, June 17, 2012
|A tree that fell and killed a mother and a son|
The Cape Coast Metropolitan Director of the Department of Parks and Gardens Obeng Assimah has disclosed to CENTRAL PRESS that his department lacks the necessary equipment to prevent tree disasters during rainstorms.
He said the department is under resourced and therefore cannot determine which ageing trees need to be cut down to prevent them from endangering properties and lives.
However, before this critical question was to be answered, the personnel in the Department of Parks and Gardens raised yet a bigger concern, which was potentially an implication that the tragedy on May 19th may not entirely be an accident. “Because we are under resourced, it is difficult for us to maintain the conditions of the trees in Cape Coast.” Mr. Obeng Assimah told us after the accident took place, “For example, we did not have a pruning gun to cut the branches of the dead trees, or motor vehicles to go around and exam which trees need to be pruned or cut.”
He expressed the difficult situation that the department was facing. Because of the limited budget, many field works could not be accomplished, and staff members were unable to fully understand the conditions of trees in Cape Coast. When asked that whether they were aware, before the accident that the giant tree fell at Pedu junction was life threatening, Mr. Obeng Assimah suggested, “the falling tree accident was a total surprise for us.” He added, however, “We learned the residents swept the rubbish and gathered them underneath the trees, and bent them. That could be why the trees fell.”
The Department of Parks and Gardens was also unable to identify, very likely due to the shortage of equipment, the potentially dangerous spots for trees falling in Cape Coast. At the same time, Mr. Obeng Assimah did advice the residents to “move away from old trees when there is a storm”.
The heavy rainstorm sweeping through Cape Coast on May 19th 2012 caused a giant tree to fall by the street side killing a young mom and her 14 year-old son in the store.
Right across the street from the Pedu elementary school, lay the broken branches and chunks of wood, blocking half of the traffic lane. The messy scene was caused by the heavy and powerful rainstorm that took place on May 19th 2012. A tall old tree with an estimated height of 12 meters, was knocked down by the fierce wind that lasted for roughly one hour, causing the tragic death of a Nigerian mother and her son who was only 14 years old.
According to the eyewitness at the scene, the mother and the child were hiding inside their T-shirt store when the storm hit this area. “This huge tree by the road was shaking in the wind. Many pedestrians and store owners were running away from the tree, in fear of it falling.” Said Mr. Samuel Okyeire, a store owner selling on the same street with the Nigerian woman. “She and her boy closed their store and were hiding inside. When the tree started to fall, we screamed to them but they did not hear. The tree was then smashed into the store while the mom and the boy were still inside.”
The brutal rainstorm left a rather brutal and chaotic accident scene. The 12-meter tree fell across the main road, fortunately without hitting any automobiles passing by, but smashed right into the iron stall and torn it apart, as if an over-weighted giant stepped upon a small tin can. The mother was found dead immediately, but the boy was breathing slowly when the nearby store owners arrived and attempted to rescue him. The roads were blocked entirely by the falling tree, so the crowd took a short cut and sent the boy to the nearest hospital immediately. However, the injury from the accident was so severe that they lost the young boy on their way to the hospital. The neighbors managed to contact the father, who was working in Nigeria at the time, to return to Ghana.
Despite this sad and unexpected tragic accident, Alhaji Yusif Farouk Adamu, the Metropolitan Coordinator of National Disaster Management Organization in Cape Coast, commented that this rainstorm that started around 4pm in the afternoon, did not cause any other injuries aside from this case. He suggested that the cause of these tragic deaths was due to the fragile branch of this aged tree, which was not strong enough to withstand such a heavy storm. When asked whether planting trees around the neighborhood could potentially create danger or threats to people who live around the area, he explained, “We need more trees to serve as wind breakers and absorb energy from the storm, but at the same time, ensure that old and weak trees or branches are to be removed. More planning needs to be done to prevent residents from living around the dangerous spots.” This rainstorm raised a critical question, as well as a challenge to both the Disaster Management Organization and the Department of Parks and Gardens, at the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in charge of tree planting and safety. The balance of planting trees to provide windbreakers for the city of Cape Coast, versus examining and removing the ageing and life-threatening trees to ensure neighborhood safety, needs to be achieved urgently.
For future prevention of such accidents caused by heavy storms, Alhaji Yusif in National Disaster Management Organization also suggested that residents “should not wait for support but get prepared before the storm visits” and “find families and friends who are living at high hills or open areas”, so in case of the flood or storm, they are able to move around freely and avoid the accidents. He also emphasized that education to the local community would be the key focus for the raining season and the locals needed to be taught how to escape from disasters.
In terms of the future supports that could be provided by the government, the Department of Parks and Gardens suggested that despite the limited resources, they advise the residents to contact the department if they perceive any potential dangers from the surrounding trees. The department will try its best to arrange a field visit and cutting of the trees accordingly. However the department also made the plea to the local government to “provide more resource for the department”, so they will be better equipped and more prepared for the prevention of future accidents.
Alhaji Yusif from National Disaster Management Organization also reassured the residents that “The rescue team is prepared” in case future accidents occur. At the same time, he expressed his genuine hope that with the cooperation of Disaster Management Organization and Department of Parks and Garden, as well as the education for disaster preparation for the locals, tragic accidents like this could be avoided in the future for the residents of Cape Coast.
By Arabella Anderson
Over two days, CENTRAL PRESS monitored the amount drivers wearing seat belts, in two separate locations. The first Location was an intersection at Pedu Junction, where out of 213 drivers observed 12 were wearing seat belts.
At the second location Cape Coast University, The incidents of drivers wearing seat belts were higher then the intersection. Here only 143 drivers were counted, and 27 of them were wearing seat belts. Still this is significantly low when you consider that it is in fact against the law for anyone in the vehicle not be wearing a seat belt.
The Central Regional Manager at the National Road Safety Commission, Stephen Anokye quoted that the law states any driver or passenger in a car over the age of 18 is responsible for their own safety and is required to wear a seat belt. If they disobey this law, they can be fined from 1200 to 2500 Ghana cedis.
Mr. Anokye denied that the disregard for road safety and the law has anything to do with lack of education. He listed a large variety of ways in which his commission ensures people are fully informed on the laws. This includes road safety seminars at schools, weekly demonstrations on television and over the radio. Despite this he is aware that the law is rarely acknowledged and believes it is as simple as ‘the drivers refuse to obey.’
Of course, it must be acknowledge that while the drivers may well be aware of the Law it is obvious that law enforcement officials are rarely enforcing it. On the first day of conducting the survey, I did witness a driver being pulled over and questioned about not wearing a seat belt but I had the distinct feeling that this had more to do with my presence and cause more then anything else. The officer seemed to be making quite a show of this one arrest out of the 201 other civilians I had seen within that hour breaking the law.
Mr. Anokye says that his outfit can educate and instruct as much as possible, but the police are in charge of the arrest and it is the duty of the court to follow up on the case and ensure the defendant attends court and carries out their sentence. On this topic he openly admits that personal connections commonly affect the carrying out of proper legal protocol. He says ‘ in Ghana we are like a family’ according to Anokye if a person gets in trouble with the law they or someone close to them who has a connection with someone in law enforcement will use this connection for their benefit and avoid a proper punishment. He reveals ‘it is hard to turn them down.’
Hard or not, referencing personal connections above the law are an abusive of power and illegal in itself. The seat belt rule is in place for a reason. Seat belt save lives. While a connection with a police officer may help you avoid a fine for not wearing a seat belt, it is not going to save your life, if you ignore the rules and you are in a crash.
Mr. Stephen Anokye is correct in saying that Individuals need to start taking responsibility for their own safety. He says that people need to educate each other. ‘If you get in a taxi and your driver is not wearing a seat belt, let him know.’ However, on top of this, those whose job it is to enforce the law if this deadly trend is ever going to be over turned must carry out firmer punishment and strict regulation of the law.