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Police ‘deeply disappointed’ by sex allegations against personnel on UN mission

The Ghana Police Service has promised strict sanctions against 46 of its personnel recalled from UN mission in South Sudan if allegations of sexual exploitation against them are proven.

Director of Public Affairs at the Ghana Police Service, ACP David Eklu, said even though the allegations have not been proven, the scandal will dent the image of the police.

“This is not a good report at all. We are deeply disappointed by the report. Even the mere fact that Ghanaian policemen who have set high standards in all our peacekeeping missions over the years have been mentioned in this very serious allegation is a cause of concern, it is a big blow to us,” ACP Eklu said.

The police unit working with the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan was recalled from Juba on Saturday, as allegations of sexual abuse against them were kick-started.

This was after an investigation was launched into a complaint that members of the unit were having sexual relations with women living at one of its protection camps.

In a statement signed by the UNMISS head David Shearer, the 46 police personnel have received information which “indicates that some members of the FPU (Formed Police Unit) allegedly engaged in transactional sex.”

Commenting on the matter, ACP Eklu revealed that based on an agreement between Ghana and the UN, if the personnel are found culpable,  they will be repatriated from the mission and will also not have the opportunity to participate in any future peacekeeping missions.

“When they come back they are also likely to face internal disciplinary procedures for putting the image of the Police Service into disrepute,” he told Joy News.

Meanwhile, UNMISS has said it has informed the UN headquarters in New York of the allegations, which in turn notified the Member State that the matter was being investigated by the United Nations.

It was emphatic, there is no indication that this behaviour is more widespread within the Mission comprising over 17,000 peacekeeping personnel including 13,000 soldiers and 1500 police officers.

Read a statement from the Ghana Police Service in reaction to the allegations.

 Source: myjoyonline

Bamboo charcoal production brings economic empowerment to women in Hohoe

A new project focused on the use of bamboo as charcoal is bringing economic empowerment to women in the Hohoe Municipality of the Volta Region.

Bamboo charcoal is common in areas where bamboo plants are abundant.

The bamboo is harvested after at least five years and burned in ovens to turn them into charcoal.

The use of charcoal made from bamboo is environmentally friendly as less pollution is released into the atmosphere during use.

The project, which is being spearheaded by the Member of Parliament for the Area, Bernice Adiku Heloo, will make the bamboo charcoal processing almost 95 percent faster than the charcoal made from other plants.

Adiku-heloo-charcoal

– Ms Heloo inspecting at the launch of the project

At the launch of the program at Fodome in the Hohoe municipality, Ms Heloo indicated that the introduction of the project was informed by the need to protect the environment, by halting the indiscriminate felling of trees for charcoal production.

Ms Heloo also indicated that the initiative will go a long way to benefit special schools in the area.

“The project is aimed at empowering the people especially women,” she stressed.

She is also of the view that bamboo planting would help reduce carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, thereby helping to address global warming.

The Municipal Chief Executive for Hohoe, Andrew Terry Ofori, in an interview with Joy News, lauded the initiative by the MP and promised that the Assembly will collaborate with her to make the project successful.

“We will do our possible best as an Assembly to help our people to make sure that dream of our MP is achieved,” Mr Ofori said.

Charcoal and firewood serve a large proportion of Ghana’s energy needs for cooking and heating.

 

Source: myjoyonline

Photos: Nungua demolition leaves scores homeless

Scores of residents at the Nungua farms in Accra have been rendered homeless after their houses were demolished by the Agric Ministry.

Over a hundred structures were demolished in the early hours of Sunday.

Nungua Farms Demolition

Some of the residents who spoke to Joy News were unhappy with the government for the development. They have accused the government of not giving them any prior notice.

“…the land is for Nungua people…and even if it is true that the land belongs to the government, I am a Ghanaian and I have to find a place to sleep with my wife and children”, one of the victims said.

Nungua Farms Demolition

The structures were bulldozed in a controlled demolition exercise which was under the supervision of about 50 policemen.

Supt. Kwesi Ofori who led the demolition exercise says the police were there to ensure no one resisted the process or attacked the officials.

“Police are here to provide security to the officials of the Agric Ministry as they carry out the demolition exercise”, he said.

He added that some land guards have been selling the government land in the area.

Nungua Farms Demolition

“…we have arrested about three of them”, the Supt. Ofori said.

“We cannot sit down for land guards to sell government lands”, he added.

Nungua Farms Demolition

Nungua Farms Demolition

Nungua Farms Demolition

Don’t ignore Africa – Akufo-Addo appeals to U.S Governors

President Akufo-Addo has urged Governors of the United States of America not to ignore Africa, stating his belief that “this can be Africa’s century”.

He said the growth in Africa in 2015 was second only to that of Asia, adding that six of the world’s ten fastest-growing economies, this year, are in Africa.

“We are rich in natural resources, and in possession of nearly 30 percent of the earth’s remaining mineral resources. We have a vibrant young population, and, though we still have important security challenges, we are more at peace than before,” he said.

The President noted that with the historic decision of the African Union to bring into being, on 21st March, 2018, the Continental Free Trade Area, the agenda of regional integration, which will establish a market of some 2 billion people in 20 years, presents immense opportunities to bring prosperity to Africa with hard work, enterprise and creativity.

“This is the time to look at Africa”, he added.

President Akufo-Addo made this known when he delivered the keynote address at the National Governors Association 2018 Winter Meeting, in Washington DC, United States of America, on Sunday, 25th February, 2018.

Whilst acknowledging the disheartening spectre of African youths crossing the Sahara desert on foot and drown in the Mediterranean Sea, in a desperate bid to reach the mirage of a better life in Europe, President Akufo-Addo explained that the current structure of African economies, which are dependent on the production and export of raw materials, cannot create prosperity.

“These economies cannot produce wealth and prosperity for the masses on the continent. It, therefore, drives the determination to seek a much better standard of living out of Africa, thereby, fuelling the refugee crises and the numerous counts of illegal migrations,” he said.

The large wave of migrations into the United States from Ireland and Italy, in the 19thcentury, the President added, has completely subsided because the economies of the two countries are working properly.

It is for this reason that President Akufo-Addo stated that “the only way to ensuring prosperity in Africa and jobs for our young populations is through value addition activities, in a transformed and diversified, modern economy, in which we take full advantage of the digital revolution.”

He continued, “In other words, the industrial development of our continent, and we are determined to ensure the realisation of this, so that our young people can stay and devote their great energies to the building of a great Africa.”

The President was confident that it is only Asians who can engineer, in a generation, their transition from poverty to prosperity.

“We are determined to do that in our generation in Ghana, on the continent, and ensure that succeeding generations will be neither victims nor pawns of the global order,” he added.

This, the President indicated, will serve as the impetus for re-shaping the continent and charting a new path of growth and development in freedom, which will lift the long-suffering African masses out of poverty into the realms of prosperity and dignified existence.

PAC summons Kumasi Technical University over ‘questionable’ contract

The Kumasi Technical University in the Ashanti Region has been summoned before the Public Accounts Committee in Accra over a contract the institution awarded without following due process.

The technical university is said to have entered into a joint venture agreement with private firm, SONTECT for the procurement of some facilities to help students in the school have practical training in computer repairing and assembling.

Under the agreement, a new firm was formed with the name Kumasi Polytechnic SONTECT  (KPST) in which the polytechnic was to have a 40% share, and SONTECT, 60%.

But there are claims that whereas evidence abound that the Kumasi Technical University committed a huge chunk of resources, less can be said of SONTECT.

This was revealed when the authorities of the Technical University appeared before the Public Accounts Committee sitting in Sunyani.

PAC on Monday, February 19, 2018, began public hearings of the report of the Auditor-General of financial expenses of Municipal/District Assemblies (MDAs), Tertiary and pre-tertiary institutions in the Brong Ahafo and Ashanti Regions.

Chairman of the Committee and Member of Parliament for the Ketu North Constituency, James Klutse Avedzi, after three hours of debating the contract signed between the University and SONTECT (KPST), ruled that the discussion be suspended to make way for all those involved in the process to be invited in Accra to provide further and better particulars to address the queries.

He stated that due process was not followed and there were a lot of issues that needed to be answered and “that is why we spent more than two hours on that particular issue and that is where we realized that there were accusations and counter accusations.”

“We need to bring all the parties together to go deep into the matter and bring it to its logical conclusion. We need to put all the people together to bring finality to the matter and that is why we suspended discussion on this matter that at another time, we will be inviting the university with appropriate bodies to come to Accra to respond to the issues,” he added.

Speaking to Citi News after appearing before the Committee, acting Vice Chancellor of the Kumasi Technical University, Prof. Asiamah Yeboah, admitted that he took over the administration of the university in January 2017, and the KPST issue dated back to 2011 when he was not in office, and that he was still studying the documents.

Prof. Yeboah explained that the University [then Kumasi polytechnic], entered into the contract with SONTECH to give birth to a new company called KPST, and per the arrangements, Kumasi Polytechnic was supposed to have 40% and SONTECH 60% of assembling of computers and other software services to boost the knowledge and capacity of Engineering and Computer Science students of the university.

The initiative, Prof. Yeboah said was a good move but faced implementation challenges that made nonsense of the whole initiative.

On the way forward, he said the previous council advised the board to abrogate the contract and even appointed auditors to lead the process to audit the contract records, and the claim that SONTECT which owned 60% of the birthed company committed some resources to the project.

The Acting Rector disputed that claim, and said “there’s no evidence to prove that SONTECT has paid anything as support or commitment to the project.”

The acting Vice Chancellor said all the issues concerning the institution have been reported to the University Council awaiting their advice and directions on the projects.

Sunyani Technical University appears before PAC

Still at the committee sitting, the Sunyani Technical University on the other hand discharged itself creditably to the admiration of the committee.

The committee was however not happy with delays with the completion of GETFUND projects at the institution.

But in response, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Kojo Adinkra Appiah, blamed the delays on delayed cash flow from the GETFUND making it difficult for the contractors to continue the work.

“In fact, money was not coming from the GETFUND, and that gave a lot challenges to the project and so when the external auditors came, they thought they were infractions, but we took our time and explained to them. They realize they were genuine challenges and that was why the projects were not completed on time”, he explained.

He appealed to government and the GETFUND to intervene and provide the necessary assistance to complete the projects which he said is helping to address the classroom, offices and accommodation challenges of the institution.

The Vice Chairman of Committee, Edward Dery, expressed worry over the side-stepping of procedures stipulated by the Financial Management Act management and heads of institutions and MDAs.

He accused management of the Kumasi Technical University of deliberately dodging all the queries raised by the committee and pledged members’ readiness to do the necessary due diligence to ensure the right thing was done and misappropriated funds refunded.

By: Mashoud Kombat/citifmonline.com/Ghana

Court rules on ‘GYEEDA’ scandal case today

An Accra High Court will today [Friday], deliver its judgment in the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) case involving former national Coordinator Abuga Pele and Philip Assibit, Chief Executive Officer of Goodwill International Group.

This follows four years of legal battle where state prosecutors and defense lawyers have been putting forward evidence before the court to advance their claims.

While Abuga Pele has been charged with abetment of crime, intentionally misapplying public property and willfully causing financial loss to the state, Philip Assibit is facing charges of defrauding by false pretense and dishonestly causing financial loss.

The two men are alleged to have connived to defraud the state of some 4.1 million cedis.

They have pleaded not guilty to the charges leveled against them.

GYEEDA scandal

In the case scandal that hit the now Youth Employment Agency (YEA), some companies including Zoomlion Ghana Limited, RLG, Asongtaba Cottage Industry Limited and Better Ghana Management Services Limited among others, were contracted to render services under various modules for the GYEEDA programme.

Following reports of the siphoning of state funds under GYEEDA, the government in 2012 ordered an investigation into its activities and subsequently terminated the contracts with the various companies.

The former GYEEDA National Coordinator, Abuga Pele was also hauled before a court to answer for the reported malfeasance under his tenure.

Abuga Pele has since pleaded not guilty to two counts of abetment of crime, intentionally misapplying public property, and five counts of willfully causing financial loss to the state in the ongoing trial.

Mr. Pele, the MP for Chiana Paga in the Upper East Region at the time, said there was a conspiracy to use him as a ‘sacrificial lamb’ for the multi-million cedi corruption scandal, whiles those supposed to have been charged are walking free.

Gov’t blacklists RLG, others

In December 2015, Government supposedly blacklisted companies indicted in the corruption scandal that hit GYEEDA, which included big names like Zoomlion and RLG.

The announcement was made by the then Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Haruna Iddrisu. However, the companies said there was no such blacklisting by government.

For many observers, the slow pace of the trial was an indication that the government was not genuinely interested in prosecuting the case, and that they were doing so to protect their people.

By: Fred Djabanor/citifmonline.com/Ghana

AG backs calls for probe into mass Law School failure

The Attorney General, Gloria Akuffo, has backed calls for an enquiry into the recent mass failure of students at the Bar exams.

Her comments follow a 30-day ultimatum issued to the Independent Examination Board (IEB) by the SRC of the Ghana School of Law to re-mark the scripts of students who failed the exams.

Only 91 out of the 474 students who sat the bar exams written in May and September last year passed.

The students have since been protesting the results and have planned to petition the Chief Justice.

Speaking on Metro TV’s Good Evening Ghana, Gloria Akuffo said an investigation would help unravel the true cause of the mass failure.

“Let us investigate what is the real cause of this large numbers. Is it because lecturers are not good enough? Is it because they do not have good material? Is it because the students themselves are not applying themselves efficiently and begin to find solutions to these.”

‘Parliamentary inquiry’

Her suggestion comes a day after a lawyer, Kwaku Asare, also called on Parliament to investigate the mass failure.

Mr. Asare also made a number of calls including asking Parliament to summon the Director of the Ghana School of Law to explain why they “unlawfully denied access to about 3,000 students who under the laws of Ghana are qualified to have professional legal education.”

The lawyer also called for the setting up of a committee of legal examiners by Parliament to “review the examination, the marking scheme and the exams scripts to find out what has gone terribly wrong with these examinations.”

The massive failure comes at a time when Parliament is debating an LI brought before it by the General Legal Council (GLC); the body that oversees the legal profession and legal education in Ghana.

The LI, if endorsed by Parliament, will see the legalization of entrance examination and interview processes by the GLC for prospective law students.

‘Re-mark exam scrips, scrap exam board’

In the wake of this development, the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) of the Ghana School of Law, has also called for the examination scripts of the Ghana Law School students to be re-marked.

Speaking on Eyewitness News, the President of the school’s SRC, Sammy Gyamfi, said the results did not accurately reflect the performance of the students who sat for the exams.

He stated that in order to ensure the integrity of the exams and the results which were released, the scripts have to be re-marked by “a credible and independent body.”

“Clearly this is a sad day for professional legal education for Ghana. The published results are very dispiriting and discouraging, very disappointing and clearly unacceptable. The results as we have now don’t reflect the true performance of the students. We can’t vouch for the integrity of these results, the integrity of the results is questionable,” he said.

By: Marian Ansah & Sixtus Dong Ullo/citifmonline.com/Ghana

EOCO indicts SSNIT officials over controversial $72m software contract

The Economic and Organized Crimes Office (EOCO) says it has concluded investigations into the controversial Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), ICT infrastructure scandal which dominated the headlines last year.

The scandal involves the procurement of ICT infrastructure for the Trust at a monstrous cost of $72 million, a price tag that was well over the initial amount estimated for the project.

Acting Chief Executive Officer of EOCO, ACP K. K. Amoah, told Joy News’ Kwesi Parker-Wilson that a docket on the outcome of the investigation, which was concluded in November last year, has been forwarded to the Attorney-General’s office for further action.

“Attorney-General [Gloria Akuffo] is studying the docket and you will soon hear from her office..some officers are being held responsible,” he said.

He will, however, not give out the names of the indicted officials.

EOCO opened investigations into the scandal at the pensions trust when it came to light that the $72 million spent to procure and install the software and other hardware systems known as the Operational Business Suite (OBS) in a bid to digitise the Trust exceeded the market price.

SSNIT was also criticised for failing to conduct a proper investigation into its MIS Manager, Dr Caleb Afaglo, who is alleged to be occupying the position with fake certificates.

Dr Afaglo had claimed to have Master’s and Doctorate degrees, but EOCO found that he does not have even a first degree.

Afaglo-suit

– Caleb Afaglo

Bidding process

In the wake of the scandal, it emerged that although several firms submitted significantly lower estimates to execute the IT project, management of the Trust decided to select a supplier whose estimate was the most expensive.

One bid sighted by Joy News was just estimated at GH¢17 million or $3.8 million dollars, although meeting all but one of the criteria for selection.

The contracts documents intercepted by Joy News also show that contract sum was initially pegged at $34 million and not $72 million.

 

Source: myjoyonline

Joy News’ Maxwell Agbagba honoured at 2017 Engineering Awards

Joy News’ Maxwell Agbagba was among top winners at the 2017 Engineering Awards held in Accra on Thursday.

His report about a dangerous pothole in the middle of the Achimota-Apenkwa Overhead Bridge earned him the ‘Engineering Evangelism Award’.

Part of the citation presented to him stated the report was “recognized locally and internationally by experts.”

Agbagba-citation

Other winners at the event include the inventor of a water-bicycle, Frank Darko, and Florence Cobbold, who won the Distinguished Woman in Engineering Award.

The 4th edition of the prestigious annual awards, organised by the Ghana Institution of Engineers (GhIE), is to honour outstanding contributions of individuals or organisations, who have demonstrated great potential for research in Engineering in the country leading to the transformation of engineering excellence and innovations.

The event, held at the Academy of Arts and Sciences attracted seasoned Engineers, Council Members, past presidents of the Institution, Engineers across the country and the general public.

 

Source: myjoyonline

Zoomlion lauds YEA review of sanitation module; responds to ‘misconceptions’

Waste management company, Zoomlion Ghana, says it welcomes the Youth Employment Agency’s review of the Youth in Sanitation Module.

The YEA said on Wednesday at a press conference that from June 2018, it will no longer proceed with a contract on the Youth in Sanitation module with Zoomlion Ghana.

YEA Chief Executive Officer, Justin Kodua Frimpong, said he is unimpressed with the manner in which the module, which has been running since 2006, has been handled by the service provider.

However, in press statement issued on Thursday, Zoomlion lauded the YEA for the plan to restructure the module as it will serve as a blueprint for other modules in the future.

In the release, Zoomlion also responded to what it described as misconceptions about its management fee.

“Further to the Management Service Agreement, the Gh¢400 management fee which has not been reviewed since 2011, goes into the procurement of Logistics for the delivery of the service by the YEA operatives. The assumption that this money goes into the pocket of the service provider is therefore very erroneous!” Zoomlion stated.

Zoomlion Clean

The full press statement is published below.

ZOOMLION IS HAPPY WITH ANY RESTRUCTURING OR REVIEW OF SANITATION MODULE OF YEA

February 22, 2018: The Management of Zoomlion Ghana Limited wish to commend the Management of the Youth Employment Agency for its plans to restructure the Sanitation Module of the Youth Employment Programme to serve as a blueprint for other modules going forward.

Without preempting any further discussion on the review or restructuring of the module, management however feels compelled to make some clarification on the following issues raised at the YEA press briefing yesterday.

1. Disparities in reported beneficiary numbers versus physical count-That 38,884 beneficiaries turned up for the counting exercise by YEA as against the 45,320 recorded by managers of Zoomlion Ghana Limited.

Zoomlion wish to state that the company’s number is captured in an album with the names, pictures and other details of beneficiaries for verification purposes. The shortfall however occurred as a result of a mixture of reasons, which the CEO of YEA, Mr Justin KoduaFrimpong has himself alluded to in a couple of media interviews.

i. Beneficiary Apathy: Prior to the Agency’s exercise, there had been series of headcount exercises conducted by 1)the Agency’s regional and district representatives together with Zoomlion Ghana Limited,2)District Assembly Common Fund (DACF) directorate, 3)the various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDA’s) and Zoomlion Ghana Limited within a period of two (2) months with the objective of ascertaining the true numbers of the beneficiaries. In all these exercises, the beneficiaries had to commute back and forth from their communities to the district capitals and this may have led to the comparatively low turnout as compared to the numbers of beneficiaries in the album provided.

ii. Late arrival or ‘no show’ of the Head count team from the Agency to some of the centers. This situation led to most of the beneficiaries leaving the centers out of frustration. A situation which seriously accounted for the team not meeting all beneficiaries to get them to be counted.

iii. Short notice to the beneficiaries by the Agency upon the team’s arrival in the district caused beneficiaries in the hinterlands to miss the headcount. An example of this happened in Ejura Sekyere-Dumase District

iv. Transportation: Most of the communities have means of transport to the district capital only on market days therefore it became difficult to travel to the district capital when it is not a market day a case in point is Bole-Bamboi and Bunkpuruguyooyoo Districts in the Northern Region. Beneficiaries also had challenges regarding payment for transportation to headcount centres at the district/municipal capitals and this greatly affected the turnout of beneficiaries to the exercise.

v. Zoomlion spent more hours spanning a day to two days at particular headcount centre to ensure that no one was left out compared to the Agency which spent some few hours in a day and hurriedly counted beneficiaries they met and left this resulting in the discrepancy.

2. Issuing of Appointment letters to Beneficiaries.

Since the inception of the Programme in 2006, under the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP),Zoomlion has never issued any appointment letter to any beneficiary under the sanitation module. Per the Management Service Agreement, employment of the beneficiaries is the sole responsibility of the Agency who then have the mandate to issue appointment letters.

3. Payment of management fee

The decision to pay beneficiaries Gh¢100 per month out of the Gh¢500 Management fee was not the initiative of Zoomlion Ghana limited. In fact, at the inception of the module in 2006, beneficiaries were receiving Gh¢50 per month, it was the management of Zoomlion that initiated the move for the allowance to be increased to Gh¢100. So the same Agency which set the initial amount is the only one that has the authority to change it.

Misconception over the Management Fee to Zoomlion

Further to the Management Service Agreement, the Gh¢400 management fee which has not been reviewed since 2011, goes into the procurement of Logistics for the delivery of the service by the YEA operatives. The assumption that this money goes into the pocket of the service provider is therefore very erroneous! The following are some of the logistics the money goes to buy:

Wheel barrows, shovels, brooms, rakes, cutlasses, alley brooms, jackets, spades, uniforms, hand gloves, nose masks, reflective jackets, safety boots, pickers, street brush, road cones etc. These are supplied regularly and are all paid for from the management fee.

Apart from these, vehicles to carry supervisory staff including fueling the vehicles are all covered from the Management Fee.

Zoomlion has for countless years had to pre-finance the payment of theseallowancesof beneficiaries by borrowing money at high interest rates but at no cost to the government due to delays its payment. Presently, payments to the company is in arrears of over four years running in millions of cedis.

Submission of Reports

The company has since 2006, religiously submitted quarterly and annual reports to the management of the YEA, and has never had any correspondence from the Agency acknowledging receipt or questioning the quality of work being done.

Conclusion

Zoomlion Ghana Limited has over the past 12 years been at the forefront of ensuring that Ghana is clean, green and healthy. Over, this period the company has built experience, capacity and logistics to serve the country in as much as we can to ensure that the President’s vision of making everyday a sanitation day and Accra the cleanest city in Africa a reality.

By dint of hard work and its service excellence, the company which has won several awards both local and international has operations in other countries including Angola, Zambia, Togo, Equatorial Guinea and Liberia.

Communication Directorate

Zoomlion

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