As part of measures to enforce strict adherence to environmental regulations in the country, a team of officials from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), led by its Executive Director, Dr. Henry Kwabena Kokofu, shut down three non-compliant industries in the Tema metropolitan area on Friday, August 11, 2023.
The visits unraveled several environmental infractions, including pollution and the exposure of workers to heavy metals and acid.
Consequently, the Executive Director of EPA, Dr. Henry Kwabena Kokofu, ordered the immediate closure of three non-compliant industries: Non-Ferrous Company Limited, Success Africa Limited, and Syntec Ghana Limited.
The EPA head said, “We are not here to mar anybody’s business, but we cannot allow production of this magnitude to go on – polluting the air, acid all over the place. You, the workers, the staff, are being subjected to and exposed to hazards. We don’t want it to happen to you. You are so precious to the country Ghana. You deserve to work in a very congenial environment just like any other person.”
Speaking about the likely impact on human health, Dr. Kokofu said, “We are afraid that you might have been exposed to substances like lead. So we’re going to bring in public health to test each one of you at the expense of the company, to ensure that none of you is having any health issues.”
On the back of the deplorable working environment and blatant disregard for environmental regulation, Dr. Kokofu emphasised, “We will temporarily close down the factory and summon the owners to the head office in Accra to come and explain why they are working under these conditions.”
Apart from being exposed to hazardous chemicals, workers lamented poor working conditions and remuneration.
A 31-year-old lady who works as a supervisor at Success Africa Company Limited told Joy News, “So far, after almost eight years of working here, my salary is not up to GHC 800.
“Another worker, a forklift operator at the same company noted, “Because of the acid infection, some of the workers have stopped.”
At Syntech Ghana Limited, a scrap metal recycling plant, over one hundred workers say their conditions of work are nothing to write home about.
A 35-year-old mother of three who works as a factory hand lamented, “There’s nothing about safety covering me, and even when you get hurt on the job, it’s very difficult for them to send you to the hospital.”
She added, “The whole year, the salary increment is GHC 2.00, and our daily mark for 12 hours of work is GHC 30.00.”
A supervisor at Non-Ferrous Metal Company Limited at Shai Hills in the Shai Osudoku District, Philip Nutsugah, applauded the EPA for the move.
He said, “Today, I’m happy to see the EPA people in our company, and they are trying to help us. We are citizens of Ghana, and we need to have good health. So, I am happy EPA is here to help us, so that whatever we are also doing here, we do it in a nice way for us to be healthy,” he added.
Meanwhile, the EPA head had this word of caution for industries and individuals who pollute the environment indiscriminately.
“Indiscriminate burning of other materials, including fabrics and weeds and all those things, we are seriously discouraging it, and we are arresting people for that, so we are asking the public to reach out to the EPA, make their complaints if people are burning and burning indiscriminately. What we have not been able to tackle as of now are vehicular emissions.”
Regarding that, he said, “In conjunction with DVLA, we’ve set the standards, and we will soon roll out how to deal with vehicular emissions. And when the time comes, we need the support of the public, including the media, to be able to stop these vehicle emissions. All of us here may have a vehicle one way or the other, and all our vehicles are smoking.”
“So don’t be worried if EPA asks you to pack your vehicle because it is smoking, to go and refit it. These are some of the things that we can do to enhance the quality and the integrity of the air that we breathe,” Dr. Kokofu noted.
However, the EPA called for the prioritization of waste segregation in the country to help curb environmental pollution.
“And this is what we want the people of Ghana to know, that it is important to segregate our waste so these waste recycling facilities can get these materials to work.”
In order to tackle climate change and attain the Sustainable Development Goals, the country must ensure strict adherence to its environmental laws, otherwise, attaining the 2030 goals could be a mirage.