President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo

Social mitigation measures good, but actualize them - Sammy Gyamfi to Prez Akufo-Addo

The National Communication Officer of the National Democratic Congress, NDC, is urging President Nana Akufo-Addo to actualize the social intervention measures he announced last Sunday night, to cushion the vulnerable in lockdown areas in the wake of the coronavirus disease.

He says while the measures announced by the President are in the right direction, in addition to more he could do, he must see to their effectual implementation so they don’t end up as a mere announcement.

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In a statement issued Monday, Sammy Gyamfi challenges President Akufo-Addo to prove himself.

“Admittedly, the newly announced interventions, will bring some relief to Ghanaians, but the critical issue that remains to be seen is their implementation. President Akufo-Addo has proven time and again to be an expert in delivering flowery speeches laced with lofty promises, but he is always found wanting, when it comes to actual implementation.

He said for instance that the President in the last few weeks gave several assurances to Ghana’s frontline health workers that government was procuring and would be providing them with Protective Personal Equipment (PPEs), however, till date that promise has not been fulfilled.

According to Sammy Gyamfi, the situation has “compelled doctors and nurses at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital to threaten a sit-down strike action over lack of PPEs and other essential logistics. This is just a reflection of the general apprehension among our frontline health workers across the country. Various health facilities, be they clinics or hospitals are reeling under the burden of lack of basic PPEs.”

He again faulted the President for allegedly failing to deliver on his promise to provide 50,000 test kits which he had indicated were expected weeks ago, to aid the fight against the Covid-19 disease.

“Also, during one of his recent addresses, the President told the nation that his government has ordered 50,000 test kits which were to arrive in the country weeks ago to enhance our response plan against the pandemic. But as we speak, this promise has not been fulfilled. But for the 20,000 test kits donated to the country by Jack Ma, we would have experienced a shortage of test kits by now. The general rate of testing even in lockdown areas remains very low and there is no specific indication as to when mass testing or voluntary testing will commence.”

He said the two examples “underscore the need for the nation to remain focused on the implementation of the new social interventions announced by the President rather than the mere announcement.“

Sammy Gyamfi said the flagbearer of the NDC, former President John Dramani Mahama has made other far-sighted proposals that government must adopt to enhance the national mitigation efforts against the socio-economic impact of the pandemic.

The proposals include:
1. government cancels the 50% increment in the Communication Service Tax (CST) and negotiate with Telcos to suppress their pricing (airtime and data cost), in exchange for free 6-months extension of licenses and other incentives.

2. government scraps taxes on essential products such as sanitizers, wipes, food, among others to make these items readily available and accessible for our people.

3. government provides Ghanaians with free electricity, as has been done by the Government of Togo. https://citinewsroom.com/2020/04/covid-19-togo-declares-state-of-emergency-imposes-curfew/

4. government expands the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) program to cover more poor households in this time of crisis.

5. The Ghana Buffer Stock Company should release and distribute free food to more deprived households in lockdown areas.

“These far-reaching suggestions if adopted by President Akufo-Addo, will go a long way to further enhance our mitigation plans against the socio-economic impact of the pandemic on the nation”, he said.

Additionally, Sammy Gyamfi reminded President Akufo-Addo that by announcing the social intervention measures, he has heeded good counsel in these difficult times, however the announced socio-economic impact mitigation measures cannot be a substitute for the scientific management of the pandemic.

“Most of the serious challenges confronting our fight and response plan against the COVID-19 pandemic haven’t been resolved and that should not be lost on any of us. In fact, this should give every Ghanaian genuine cause for concern because:

“As we speak:

“1. Our frontline health workers across the country lack PPEs and basic logistics to work with.

“2. We are yet to see the establishment of additional isolation centers in the other 14 regions of the country, especially in the northern part of Ghana.

“3. Government’s promise to establish additional testing centers has not been fulfilled.

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“4. Public education and sensitization on the pandemic still remains low, especially in deprived communities. Even in some of the Metropolitan Epicenters, some public spaces such as markets are still choked with little to no social distancing.

“5. The lockdown is not being observed in deprived areas in the lockdown zone. Also, the excesses of some of our men in uniform in enforcing the lockdown have not stopped and have even resulted in the killing of a citizen at Ashaiman; an incident the President failed to condemn in his address to the nation.

“6. Surveillance along our land borders is still very weak, thereby exposing us to illegal migrants who could be infected like the 10 Guinean nationals entered the country illegally a couple of days ago.

“7. Information and communication on community infections hasn’t been transparent to aid in contact tracing.”

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He also commended former President John Mahama, calling him the a “visionary” for his “unprecedented investments in health Infrastructure (BOG Hospital, Ridge Hospital, UGMC etc.), the provision of potable water (Teshie desalination project, Kpone water project, etc.) and the Transport sector (Ayaloloo Buses), which have become pivotal to our response plan against the COVID-19 pandemic. We thank him for the constructive alternative solutions he continues to offer and we are grateful for his donation of PPEs and other medical supplies to hospitals and our frontline health workers across the country.”

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