The Minister of the Interior, Mr Ambrose Dery, has charged personnel of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) to intensify the campaign against bushfires to help curb the menace in the country.
He also asked them to collaborate with metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) to establish fire volunteers in farming communities at their respective areas to help prevent bush burning, especially as the harmattan season was drawing closer.
Mr Dery gave the advice in a speech read on his behalf at the national launch of the 2018/19 Bushfire Prevention Campaign in Sunyani last Friday on the theme: “Our future depends on sustaining the environment, let us prevent fires now.”
It was preceded by a conference that was attended by stakeholders, including fire volunteer squads, to discuss strategies to fight bushfires.
In 2016, the country recorded a total of 1,837 bushfires that were significantly reduced to 611 in 2017.
However, the number of bushfires as of October 2018 was 868, and indications are that the figure could rise to 1,000 before the end of the year.
Mr Dery expressed concern that “bushfires continue to destroy the vegetation cover in the savannah areas of the Brong-Ahafo Region” and therefore described the launch of the campaign in the region as appropriate.
The minister gave an assurance that the government would continue to equip the GNFS to enable them to deal with fire outbreaks, adding that two turntable ladders (hydraulic platforms) has been acquired to deal with fires in high rise buildings.
Mr Dery also called for the establishment of fire belts in communities and on farms to prevent fires (when they do occur) from spreading.
According to him, the impact of such negative practices was economically, socially and environmentally devastating to the country for which reason stakeholders must come together to fashion out a sustainable way of preventing bushfires.
The Acting Chief Fire Officer, Mr Ekow Blankson, emphasised the important role fire volunteers played in the fight against bush burning and, therefore, called for support to enable the service to train more volunteers, particularly in farming communities.
He also appealed for adequate resources to enable his outfit live up to expectation, saying “since I joined the GNFS we have never had an aerial support equipment.
We don’t have the facilities in the country. If Kakum is on fire, who will venture? Bole, who will go there? Atiwa, who will go there?” Mr Blankson lamented.
The Krontihene of the Sunyani Traditional Area, Oboaman Bofotia Boamponsem, entreated chiefs in the area to refrain from going to the security agen
cies to plead on behalf of perpetrators of bushfires.
He said in such situations, the laws must be allowed to work to serve as deterrent.