By Iddi Yire, GNA
Accra, June 4, GNA – Former President Jerry John Rawlings has bemoaned the spate of Ghana’s environmental degradation through illegal activities such as felling of trees and mining.
He warned that failure to inculcate a culture of tree planting and the continued hacking down of trees to be replaced by concrete infrastructure is the quickest way to invite the desert into the country.
‘Today the poor rainfall trend has made the Akosombo and the Bui Dams a complete irrelevant and anachronism in our quest for sustainable electricity,’ former President Rawlings stated on Saturday in Accra during a parade by cadres to mark the 37th Anniversary of the June 4th Uprising.
The parade was mounted by 96 young cadres from the Greater Accra Region
He recounted that about a week and half ago or so, a newspaper called the Public Agenda carried a news item by the Deputy Chief of Staff Mr Johnny Osei Kofi, in which he was cautioning that Ghana risk importing water by 2021.
‘This news item may sound preposterous to most people but that is the stack reality. There is the global water crisis created by the abuse of the environment,’ former President Rawlings said.
‘In our country the situation has become dire because of the abuse of our water bodies through the dumping of non-degradable waste like plastics, metals, chemicals and other poisonous materials,’ he added.
He said it was further exacerbated by the senseless abuse of rivers and lakes in the new found crave for illegal mining.
‘It is tragic to see rivers such as Ankobra, Pra, Offin, and parts of the Volta, which used to provide clean portable water to huge communities now turned into a flow of mud and grim,’ he said.
‘Just as how and what we are, reflects our sense of responsibility; so also that the environment reflects our sense of discipline and sense of responsibility.
‘In a country like Zimbabwe, you dare not cut down a tree, even in your own backyard without governmental permission.
‘We have over the years tried to encourage the growing of trees and the protection of our forest,’ he said.
He said during his tenure of office, before roads were constructed, the services of the 31st December Women’s Movement was engaged to grow trees along the roads.
‘I have watched the brutal hacking down of trees over the years, especially since I left office. Trees that were planted along the Tema Motorway to Tema-Akosombo road were brutally hacked down a few months ago,’ he said.
‘Nothing reflects our irresponsibility and indiscipline more than the neglect of our environment. Nothing reflects the poor standard and authority of a government as the environment. Nothing reflects the lawlessness in a country as the neglect of its environment,’ he added.
Former President Rawlings said the protection of the environment is the quickest way for a government or local authority to demonstrate its sense of discipline.
He said ‘by contrast the corruption of the environment is the quickest way to degrade our human self-worth’.
‘And a government or local authority that would butch trees, or watch the degradation of its environment cannot expect people to become responsible,’ he said.
He hailed the Volta River Authority for planting and maintaining trees over the years at Akuse and Akosombo.
He said about 80 per cent of some teak electrical poles on the Accra-Ada area which were erected in place of old ones have tilted; declaring that ‘someone was in a hurry to make money. Something is really wrong in this country’.
He said June 4 was not about him, but the collective action of the people for probity, accountability and justice for all.
The June 4 perpetual flame was jointly lit by Dr Benjamin Kunbour, Defence Minister, Mr Joseph Nii Laryea Afotey-Agbo, Greater Accra Regional Minister and the former National Security Advisor Brigadier General Joseph Nunoo-Mensah (Rtd).
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