Tuesday, November 27, 2012


 By: Kwamina Bamfo-agyei

From hence forth antiretroviral drug has been made free of charge to all persons living with HIV/AIDS taking effect from today.
The President of Ghana John Dramani Mahama disclosed this in Cape Coast as part of the World Aids Day on the theme getting to zero.
He said the government has taken this major decision in encouraging people living with HIV/AIDS to access the treatment. He directed that all persons living with HIV/AIDS to register on the National Health Insurance Scheme.
The President speech was read by the Deputy Chief of Staff Alex Segbifia.

Monday, November 26, 2012


The Executive Director of the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC), Ing. Noble John Appiah has led a team to visit the scene of the road traffic crash that occurred on Friday November 16, 2012.

The crash occurred at Kogni near Bawa Barracks on the Tamale-Bolgatanga Highway when a Bolga bound Metro Mass bus reportedly collided head on with a GPRTU-operated Benz bus. His visit was to ascertain first- hand information on the nature of the crash.

Preliminary investigations into the road traffic crash suggests a failure of the road transport operational system to comply with processes, procedures and road safety standards that guarantee quality assurance given the state of the vehicles after the crash and the surrounding circumstances of the crash.

The Commission appreciates the need for systems to control potential risks that give rise to these avoidable and needless deaths and have since July 2011 published standards for Commercial Passenger Transport Operations pursuant to a directive from the Hon. Minister of Transport, Alhaji Collins Dauda (MP)

The NRSC has directed a road transport safety systems investigation to establish the extent of compliance with processes, procedures and existing standards for public service transport operators in order to take further remedial steps in the public interest.

Without prejudice to the outcome of the investigations, the Commission is distressed with the safety profile of the commercial passenger transport operators particularly the GPRTU and Metro Mass Transit (MMT) as leading public service transport operators with responsibility to reflect a higher road safety standard.

It is regrettable that over the last three years alone, the GPRTU and MMT have been involved in a number of crashes that includes some notable high casualty crashes killing a total of 97 persons in the following crashes;

a.       In August 2010, 19 persons perished in a crash at Sege when a MMT bus ran into a stationary vehicle.

b.      In November 2011, 29 persons died in Tamale in a crash involving vehicles operated by GPRTU and MMT as a result of overloading and over speeding.

c.       In September 2012, a Metro Mass Transit operated vehicle hit an Urvan Commercial bus at Srokpo junction on the Tamale-Savelugu highway killing 9 persons and

d.      Again in September, 2012 a Metro Mass Transit bus collided with a GPRTU operated Toyota Haise bus at Bepoase near Adukrom in the Eastern Region killing 9 persons and

e.       In November 2012, some 31 persons have been confirmed dead in a crash involving vehicles managed by Metro Mass Transit and GPRTU.

The Commission considers transport operators as frontline enforcement agencies with responsibility to ensure compliance with existing operational safety standards.

In view of the above and the Commission’s mandate to put in place measures designed to prevent accidents (crashes) involving the use of vehicles on roads, the NRSC directs that;

a.       The Management of GPRTU and all other commercial transport operators should of necessity take steps to appoint Road Safety officers as provided for by the “Standards for Commercial Passenger Transport Operators” for all their branches and ensure their training.

b.      The Management of the MMT, GPRTU and all other commercial passenger transport operators should liaise with the National Drivers Academy to put in place a programme to offer road safety refresher training programme in the manner provided for under Regulation 125 of Road Traffic Regulations L.I. 2180 2012 for all their drivers.

The Management of MMT, GPRTU and all transport operators providing service in the nature of commercial passenger transport service shall submit to the Commission within two weeks from today November 21st, 2012 a list of Road Safety Officers so appointed and a detailed action plan for the implementation of the standards and the refresher training for all their drivers.

The Commission shall liaise with the relevant stakeholders to exercise all the available opportunities to ensure that these measures designed to prevent road traffic crashes are complied with for the public good.

The Commission will continue to lead research, advocacy and coordination efforts to deliver a better road safety situation while expecting that we will collectively cultivate a safety culture to demand responsibility from road safety implementing agencies.

Road safety, my responsibility!

Issued by the National Road Safety Commission

Monday, November 19, 2012


 By Kweku Quansah
Today, 19th November, 2012 is World Toilet Day. A day set aside by the international community to draw attention to the fact that a whopping 2.5 billion people in the world, representing 37% of the world’s total population, do not have any known place where they defaecate. 
Millions of people the world over, struggle everyday just to attend a simple basic nature’s call. In the process, some are bitten by reptiles, have cuts and get maimed. Millions of innocent girls and women also get raped and live with the psychological trauma for the rest of their life. On World Toilet Day, the world unites to create awareness and make the noise about this global sanitation challenge. It is commemorated across the globe and people from all works of life -the media, private sector, development partners, civil society, government agencies, children and women- join hands to advocate for clean and safe toilets for all.

On this unique day, one cannot forget the commonest spectacle in our small towns, peri-urban and major cities virtually every day: the indiscriminate disposal of human feces.  Feces is found everywhere more especially around our water bodies, beaches,  bushes, open spaces, gutters, refuse dumps, under bridges and channels, uncompleted buildings and backyards. In 2011, the Water and Sanitation Programme (WSP) of the World Bank did a study on Ghana. It was revealed that a typical Ghanaian spends two and half days every year to look for an obscure or ‘private’ place to defaecate.  This has huge losses in economic terms.  As a nation, we lose close to GHC 37million every year due to this practice.  This calls for action. We need to do something about it as a nation.

The main reason why people do it openly is the lack of or inadequate toilet facilities in our homes, schools, public places, communities and workplaces. Where they even exist, they are poorly maintained. Many toilets have become a source of disease transmission and distribution. The pungent smell that emanates from some of these places of ‘inconvenience’ is intolerable. Some have become death traps and safe homes and breeding grounds for all types of reptiles, rodents, etc.  This situation de-motivates people and puts them off from using these facilities. Is it any wonder then that such people resort to open defecation?
Besides, a number of people also like to defaecate outside for the pleasure of it.  Squatting in open places to defaecate comes with  what such people term the fringe benefits of ‘free air-condition’ ,and such satisfied ‘users’ find it extremely difficult to let this behaviour  go. I read a story about a rich family in Asia. This family packs themselves every morning into a Benz Saloon Car and go to the outskirts of the city, into bushes, to defaecate. This family has 3 toilets in their house and the question is why they are not using them. It is simply an issue of old habits die hard.

This year’s World Toilet Day Theme adopted by Ghana is simply ‘’ACHIEVING OPEN DEFECATION FREE GHANA’’. Yes, we need to achieve Open-Defecation-Free state sooner than later. As a country we cannot bear the social and economic cost of open defecation any more. The most current statistics on Ghana (WHO/UNICEF JMP, 2010) shows that  as high as 19% of Ghanaians do not have a ‘fixed defecation address’ and as such defaecate in the open every morning. This translates into 4.6 million. When one does a 20 year trend analysis, that is from 1990 to 2010, we have merely reduced the percentage of Ghanaians who defaecate in the open from 22% in 1990 to 19% in 2010. Just a marginal three percentage point reduction over two decades. What a snail pace reduction.
Sadly enough, the 4.6 million Ghanaians who defaecate in the open every morning knowingly or unknowingly contaminate our water sources and the general environment and as well spread diseases like diarrhoea which according to a study by the Water and Sanitation Programme of the World Bank study, kills about 5,100 precious Ghanaian children under five years every year. This is disturbing. We do not have to allow our innocent children to die.
Can you imagine that just one gram of human feces dropped in an open place, contains 10 million viruses and 1 million bacteria? These pathogens spread diseases of all kinds leading to deaths and maiming of our citizens. It also causes intestinal worm infestation, a major contributor to stunting in children and malnutrition which hold back their physical and mental growth.

Acquisition and use of toilet has moved from the health arena and has now become a human rights issue.  This was declared by the UN. There are even emerging sound economic arguments for sanitation.

Many brilliant girls have stopped schooling because their schools do not have toilets and the accompanying hand washing and hygiene facilities. These girls have missed out on this important and crucial life ‘support system’ called schooling. Can we imagine the socio-economic consequences and pressure these girls will later on in life, put on society?

The challenges in sanitation are numerous and complex but the consequences for not tackling them are even more expensive and complex.

There is therefore the urgent need for government and all and sundry to prioritise sanitation as a social service. As a country, we need to target the sanitation sub-sector for investment. The current investment into sanitation is less than 1% of the GDP. Meanwhile as a country we are losing almost 1.6% of our GDP as a result of poor sanitation. Investments are required not only for the populace to enjoy maximum health and hygiene benefits but also to reduce the economic losses the country is experiencing.
Our Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies need to enforce the building regulations concerning construction of household latrines. Building regulations are being flouted with impunity. For example some landlords in our cities, convert toilets and other sanitary facilities in their houses into living rooms and rent them out to unsuspecting tenants.
Targeting the sanitation needs of the poor and the vulnerable groups in society especially women and children will be a right move, after all sanitation is dignity.
Until the Almighty grant us the grace and health to commemorate yet another world toilet day next year, we should be each other’s keeper and take the pledge of supporting the national effort of eliminating open defecation. Talk about it, act, own a toilet in your house, use a toilet. It is more dignifying to do so. Your health comes from where you defaecate.
Let us all scaling up efforts in eliminating open defecation from Ghana. It is achievable.

Kweku Quansah
Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development
Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorate