Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, Minister of the Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, has cautioned all foreign companies whose work impacts on the environment to ensure that they adhere to the environmental laws of the country.
He said the health of the people was very important, therefore, the government was bent on ensuring that the environment was well kept, devoid of all forms of pollution, especially from illegal activities that might affected the water bodies, which served as critical sources of drinking water for the people.
The Minister was speaking to the media at Osedu, near Mankron Junction in the Agona East District of the Central Region, after inspecting a Chinese toilet roll manufacturing company.
He was disquiet about how some foreign nationals continued to operate without regards to the environmental laws.
He said the Ministry had earlier received reports that the factory was directing its effluent into the Ayensu River, which served as a critical water source to the Kwanyaku Water Works that served the whole of the Central Region.
Prof Frimpong-Boateng, in the company of Mr Oliver Boakye, Special Advisor to the Minister; Mr John Pwamang, Executive Director, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); and Mr Ebenezer Ampah-Sampong, EPA Deputy Executive Director (Technical); and some media personnel, visited the Chinese factory which manufactures the “Bobo” brand of toilet rolls.
At the factory site, the team chanced upon three Chinese men and a host of Ghanaian workers who were very reluctant to speak to the team.
While the three Chinese officials claimed they could not speak the English language, and could not communicate with the Minister, the Ghanaian workers said they had been working at the factory for some short time and did not know of any developments.
The Minister told the media that signs at the factory pointed to the fact that effluent really go out of the factory to the river, but the factory workers were not able to explain to the team how they discharged their effluent.
“If you know this area, Osedu village is upstream; and the downstream is the Kwanyako Water Works that processes water for the Central Region… and as you know, all the chemicals used in the paper industry are poisonous…
“So we will go back and come again to get the Chinese who can speak English and then go through their processes,” Prof Frimpong-Boateng said.
The Team noticed that the factory used local raw materials including old discarded papers, books, paper shreds, text books, including some Senior High School mathematics and Science text books, as well as some hospital records which had patients’ folders with their names and other private records.
Some of the Folders were dated 2017, all dumped at the factory to be turned into toilet rolls.
Some of the folders were from the Tamale Central Hospital, Sunyani Municipal Hospital, and other valued books and vouchers.
Prof Frimpong-Boateng expressed his displeasure over the use of peoples’ private hospital records as raw materials, saying, the hospitals should find a better way of disposing such private records instead of giving them out in that manner, and exposing such vital information to the public.
He said the discarding of people’s private records in that manner was not the best way and that the government digitalisation of public records in schools, hospitals and other sectors being implemented in the country was the best solution of keeping people’s vital information safe.
He said the team also noticed a very dirty environment at the factory ground, with grease spilled all over, and a dirty pit latrine being used by the Ghanaian workers.
He said upon the return of the Authorities, if the Chinese owners were still unable to give proper explanation to their enquiries, the factory would be shut down.
The Minister said even though the foreigners were offering employment for some Ghanaian locals that did not warrant them the opportunity to disregard the laws of the country.
He urged Ghanaians who connive with foreigners to flout the laws and endanger the lives of the people to put a stop to that.
Mr Samuel Somua Atta, a worker at the Factory who took the team round, told the Ghana News Agency that the factory was established about seven months ago, and had about 85 Ghanaian workers, with the three Chinese officials.