Northern region assemblies face challenges in enforcing environmental laws

Northern region assemblies face challenges in enforcing environmental laws: Ghana News
Mr. Kweku Quansah, Environmental Health and Sanitation Director| Photos: Graphics Online

Municipal and district assemblies across the five northern regions of Ghana are grappling with the absence of gazetted byelaws and a lack of court facilities, hindering their ability to prosecute environmental sanitation offenders effectively.

To address these issues, the Ministry of organized a two-day capacity training workshop on environmental health prosecution, aimed at enhancing the knowledge and confidence of prosecutors in enforcing laws and ensuring adherence to standards.

Mr. Kweku Quansah, Environmental Health and Sanitation Director, highlighted the challenges faced in the legal space, particularly the absence of gazetted byelaws in most assemblies and the insufficient capacity-building of prosecutors.

He noted that relying on national laws, which tend to be too general, makes securing successful judgments difficult. He emphasized the importance of district assemblies promulgating their bylaws to streamline the prosecution of environmental sanitation cases.

“The real challenge that the sector faces is the lack of capacity building of prosecutors to know the right thing to do, knowing the environmental laws and enforcing them appropriately is surely the way forward,” Mr. Quansah stated, dispelling the notion of political interference.

He called on administrators, politicians, and the media to support the enforcement of environmental laws to ensure a clean and healthy environment.

Madam Charlotte Akwaah-Adjei Marfo, the Programme Manager for the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAMA), provided an overview of the sanitation and water project funded by a US$150 million grant.

This project aims to bolster the government's efforts to improve access to sanitation and water supply in low-income communities in Greater Accra and and enhance the management of environmental sanitation.

The project comprises four components, including the provision of environmental sanitation and water supply services, the expansion of the water distribution network, the planning and expansion of environmental sanitation services, and the strengthening of municipal, metropolitan, and national institutions.

The second phase of the project allocated US$125 million, is slated to cover the five northern regions. Madam Adjei Marfo stressed that the sanitation and water challenges are still substantial, particularly in achieving (SDGs) and National Development Indicators.

The training for prosecutors is part of efforts to enhance their capacity at the district and community levels to effectively enforce environmental health laws.

As Madam Naatu Freda, the Regional Director of the Environmental and Sanitation Department, pointed out, gazetting byelaws at the assembly level is crucial for effective enforcement in communities.

The workshop, conducted by Gomdah and Associates, a law firm, covered topics such as the jurisdiction of Ghana's courts, the code of ethics for environmental health prosecutors, summary trials in district courts, drafting summons and charge sheets, presenting witnesses and evidence, and closing arguments and judgments.

By Bajin D. Pobia: Editing by Adewale Adejoke

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