As Ghana fashions out law on maritime pollution, vice chancellor of the regional maritime university is warning the law will not achieve much if it is not backed with enforcement.
Parliament will soon consider the Maritime Pollution Bill, 2015 which will provide the legal framework to guide the country in the event of an oil spillage. But the vice chancellor of the regional maritime university, Professor Elvis Darko is warning the bill when passed into law will not achieve much unless it is backed with the necessary tools for enforcement.
Even though oil spills are inevitable aspects of offshore operations there is no law on maritime pollution since Ghana started commercial oil production in 2010. The absence of such laws has left determination of compensation and punishment for spillage in the hands of oil producing companies.
The status quo may however change soon. Joynews is learning that cabinet has approved a draft bill expected to be laid in parliament under a certificate of urgency but Professor Darko is urging caution in the consideration of the bill. According to him various conventions on marine pollution must be complied with before the passage of the Bill.
He is also urging for the consideration of inter sectoral contribution to ensure greater collaboration in the application of the Bill when passed.’ In the marine environment, the security agencies, the assemblies, the local communities and the training institutions are play different roles in the sector and all must compliment each to ensure there is no overlap in the implementation of the law but my main concern is whether the bill when passed will have the teeth to bite and that will depend more on enforcement and if this is not done then we will be wasting everybody’s time, he noted.
It is however not clear if parliament will have the time to consider the bill before it goes on the Christmas break. The house is now saddled with debate on the 2016 budget and consideration of the estimates for government ministries, departments and agencies as well as the passage of the appropriation bill.
Chairman of the transport committee of parliament, Theophilus Tetteh Chaie is worried about Ghana’s coast line in the absence of a maritime law but says his committee stands ready to discuss bill and advise the house when it is referred to them.’ we are all aware of the consequences of oil production and we therefore need to protect the interest of the country because any spillage will be disastrous for the coast line and for us as a committee we consider the bill the most important document we need to consider but as you may be aware the executive will have to bring it to parliament and then the speaker will refer it to us and then we will work on it, Hon. Chaie indicated.
In early November this year the transport minister, Dzifa Attivor in an exclusive interview with Joynews indicated the readiness of bill for parliament consideration but one month down the line the Bill has yet to be laid in the house.
She however tells joynews the Bill had to be taken back to cabinet for some correction to be done on the clauses but she is unable to tell when it will be considered by parliament.’ The maritime pollution Bill remains a priority for passage this year and everything is been done to ensure it is laid under a certificate of urgency and though the clauses are many and we expect serious debate on the document, as government we are hopeful it will be passed’ she intimated. Ms. Attivor described as unacceptable the situation when oil companies determine the level of compensation and punishment in the event of oil spillage but says the environment ministry will continue to monitor operations on the shore until the bill is passed.