Akatsi South Fire Service records reduction in bushfires

Akatsi (VR),- The Command of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) in the Akatsi South Municipality of the Volta Region has recorded a reduction in bush fire cases in 2021.

The Command recorded two bush fires in 2021 compared to six in 2020.

The Service also saw a reduction in domestic fires from 10 in 2020 to 8 in 2021.

There had been no recorded cases of vehicular fires in 2021 as compared to two cases in 2020. Commercial fires remained at two in both years.

Acting Chief Fire Officer (ACFO) Mr Simon Wardie, the Akatsi South Municipal Fire Commander, told the Ghana News Agency.

He said despite the low number of recorded incidents, the Service had put in measures to prevent such cases.

The measures include public awareness creation on dangers associated with the usage of flammable substances and objects, the importance of having fire extinguishers at workplaces, offices, and other joints.

On education, he said a series of training sessions and fire safety education were carried out in schools, market places and public gatherings during the year under review.

“We engaged radio stations for programmes to educate the people as well as holding meetings for communities, schools, groups and others,” he added.

ACFO Wardie also advised members of the public to take precautionary measures to prevent fire outbreaks and to call the Service during fire outbreaks for a quick response.

Mr Wardie said the Service would beef up its fire safety response measures and act swiftly in case of an outbreak.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Former Chelsea and Ghana manager Avram Grant accused of sexual harassment

Former Chelsea manager Avram Grant has been accused of sexual harassment by multiple women in an investigation broadcast on Israeli TV.

Grant, 66, who also had spells in charge of Portsmouth, West Ham and the Israel national team, was accused of using his prominent position to try and coerce several women into having sex.

As reported by The Times of Israel, Israeli investigative show Exposure presented nearly an hour of testimonies from several women, describing Grant as a ‘man who offered to advance the careers of young women in exchange for sex, pressuring them until they gave in’.

In addition several women claimed Grant made sexual remarks to them while interacting in a professional capacity, and they also alleged his behaviour was an open secret in the industry.

One woman claimed she was invited to Grant’s apartment in Tel Aviv in June 2020 with an offer to help her find work before he allegedly asked her to take off her clothes and refused to let her leave.

The woman, who was 22 at the time, said: ‘He told me, “Make yourself comfortable, take off your clothes”. I thought he was joking. I was sitting far away from him, on the edge of the couch. He asked me to come closer and tried to hug me, really grabbed me and did not let go.

‘I felt uncomfortable, he put his hand on my thigh, and I remember immediately moving his hand. After a few seconds of talking, he grabbed me by the neck, as if choking me, turned my head to him, and tried to kiss me by force.’

On the programme, presented by male journalist Haim Etgar, the woman said she ‘didn’t have the courage to say no to him when he pressured her to stay overnight before Grant allegedly took her hand and placed it on his crotch – and she then went to the bathroom and started crying.

She later awoke, after sleeping in a separate bedroom, with Grant allegedly holding his exposed penis over her head.

She claims she later confronted him over his actions and played voice notes from Grant when he initially appeared to acknowledge what he was accused of – but then portrayed the evening as consensual.

He then is reported to have said: ‘I don’t discuss my private affairs with anybody, what I did with you or what I do with someone else.’

Several women made allegations that Grant offered to assist them in their careers when starting out, before making inappropriate comments and sending harassing messages over a number of years.

Many testifying were well-known journalists whose voices were doctored and identities hidden, as they were afraid of the consequences if their identities became public.

Grant, in response, did not deny the accusations and insisted any harm he had caused was unintentional, also apologising ‘from the bottom of my heart’.

‘In my life, both in a personal and professional capacity, I have always sought, above and beyond any successes or achievements, to prioritise staying a human being and to respect every woman or man, whoever they may be,’ he said.

‘I am a people person, a man of friendships. And over the years I have maintained relationships with women. In all these relationships I have tried very hard to treat them with respect and friendship and I never intended to behave unfairly or in any way harm any woman.

‘Anyone who has felt uncomfortable or hurt by me, I regret it and apologise from the bottom of my heart.’

Another woman, described as a well-known local Israeli model, detailed how she was launching her international career when she flew to England to meet Grant after he offered to help her.

Then, while meeting at a hotel, she said he took off his clothes and tried to convince her to have sex with him.

‘I said no a million times, but he persisted and persisted… I felt that I had to, so he would let me go,’ she said.

She said he didn’t use physical force, but described how she had a breakdown afterwards and quit her modelling career as she ‘did not want people to notice me anymore’.

Ahead of Sunday’s broadcast, Etgar said on Facebook that it was the ‘most disturbing and difficult investigation I have worked on in recent years.

He also added how Channel 12, the broadcasters, and himself had come under ‘massive pressure’ from Grant’s associates during research for the investigation, threatening legal action and allegedly besmirching the women who came forward.

‘The women’s testimonies all told the same story,’ he said. ‘A story about the powerful, well-connected coach who can easily launch a career, about how he knew how to use his position with young women who felt grateful to him for his help, but he took advantage of it and harmed them.’

Grant coached Chelsea in the 2007-08 season when they lost in the final of the Champions League to Manchester United, led Portsmouth to the 2010 FA Cup final and also managed West Ham in the Premier League in the 2010-11 season.

Source: Modern Ghana

Ghana Wheelchair Basketball Federation worried about international ban

Accra,- Mr. Wilson Yao Agbesi, the Secretary-General of the Ghana Wheelchair Basketball Federation (GWBF), says the ban on the team from participating in international competitions by the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) has affected the team’s performance over the years.

In an interview with the GNA Sports, he said due to the team’s ban for non-payment of participation fee of $13,000 for an African Championship in Durban, South Africa, 2017, the team had not been able to participate in any IWBF tournaments for the past four years.

“Next year we are going to host about 50 countries in Ghana for the Africa Games and for the para-sports, GWBF is the center for disabilities but our team is suspended by the world governing body over an amount of $13,000 since 2017, we pray that the Ministry of Youth and Sports comes to our aid as soon as possible.”

He said the situation the Federation finds itself looks like they were orphans in Ghana’s sports and added that the international mother body had again imposed a $2,000 fine on them for delay in payment so the total amount owed the IWBF adding that they now owe $15,000.

Mr. Raphael Botsyo Nkegbe, Captain for the GWBF team said that it would be a shame to host the African Games in Ghana and the GWBF would not be able to participate but to see other countries compete.

“GWBF owes the world body which needs to be cleared to enable the team to participate in international events as Ghana is to host African Games. It would not be nice for the team to see other countries winning the medals and Ghana’s team will not partake,” he said.

He stated that the ban had affected the team so much that the players are now blaming their leaders for not showing good leadership qualities to deliver their grievances to the authorities.

He said on behalf of the team, they were calling on the government through the Minister of Youth and Sports (MOYS), National and International Paralympics Presidents to come to their aid.

“We are appealing to the minister, Hon. Mustapha Ussif, Mr. Samson Deen, the African Paralympic Committee (APC), Non-governmental Organizations and corporate bodies to come to our aid,” he concluded.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Peace will pass the E-Levy Bill’—Rev. Dr. Kisseih

The Right Reverend Dr Gordon Kisseih, General Overseer of the Life International Church has called on the majority and the minority in Parliament to work in peace to ensure the passage of the Electronic Transaction Levy (E-Levy) Bill on Tuesday.

‘AS Ghanaians, we must cherish the peace the country enjoys and ensure that it is protected and sustained at all times to promote national cohesion and development’, he said.

Rev. Dr Kisseih made the call at the launch of this year’s conference of the church in Accra on Sunday.

The five-day conference dubbed: ‘Fresh Oli 2022’, begins on Wednesday, February 23, and ends on Sunday, February 27.

It is intended to serve as a platform for divine visitation of the community and grand them new energy for the year.

It is also to offer the community abundant restoration for what the Covid-19 pandemic had destroyed.

It would also offer believers another hope and the economy and industries as well as ministries back on track.

Speakers expected to address the conference are Most Rev. Dr Agyinasre, General Overseer of the Perez Dome, Rt. Rev. Dr Ampiah Kwofie, General Overseer of the Global Revival Ministries, and Rev. Dr Isaac Quaye, General Overseer of Word of Life Christian Centre.

Rev. Dr Kisseih appealed to the citizenry to ensure that the nation remained peaceful to drive growth and development.

He expressed his heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims of the Apiatse explosion in the Bogoso District of the Western Region.

The General Overseer commended the government, security agencies, and health services for the roles they played during the disaster.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Africa Union suspends Burkina after coup as envoys start talks

 The African Union on Monday suspended Burkina Faso a week after the volatile country suffered its latest coup, as diplomats from West Africa and the UN began talks with the new junta.

The AU’s 15-member Peace and Security Council said on Twitter it had voted “to suspend the participation of #BurkinaFaso in all AU activities until the effective restoration of constitutional order in the country”.

The move came three days after the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) suspended Burkina from its ranks and warned of possible sanctions pending the outcome of meetings with the junta.

An ECOWAS mission headed by Ghanaian Foreign Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchway arrived in Ouagadougou, where it was joined by the UN’s special representative for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Mahamat Saleh Annadif.

They arrived at the presidential palace at 1 pm (1300 GMT), an AFP journalist saw.

“The joint delegation will have meetings with the military leaders as well as with the various Burkinabe actors,” UNOWAS said in a statement earlier.

On Saturday, ECOWAS sent military chiefs to confer with junta leader Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba.

The junta “reaffirmed its commitment to sub-regional and international organisations,” it said in a statement.

ECOWAS leaders will hold a summit in Accra on Thursday to assess its two missions to see whether they should impose sanctions.

They have previously suspended and enforced sanctions against two other members — Mali and Guinea — which have also seen military overthrows in the past 18 months.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, who chairs the AU’s Commission, had already condemned the coup on the day it happened.

– Troubled country –

On January 24, rebel soldiers detained president Roch Marc Christian Kabore amid rising public anger at his failure to stem jihadist violence ravaging the impoverished nation.

They later released a handwritten letter in which he announced his resignation — a document that a member of his party said was authentic.

The junta has dissolved the government and parliament and suspended the constitution, vowing to re-establish “constitutional order” within a “reasonable time”.

The coup is the latest bout of turmoil to strike Burkina Faso, a landlocked state that has suffered chronic instability since gaining independence from France in 1960.

Kabore was elected in 2015 following a popular revolt that forced out strongman Blaise Compaore.

Compaore himself had seized power in 1987 during a coup in which the country’s revolutionary leader, Thomas Sankara, was gunned down.

He was re-elected in 2020, but the following year faced a wave of anger over his handling of a jihadist insurgency that has swept in from neighbouring Mali.

Since 2015, more than 2,000 people have died, according to an AFP toll, while the country’s emergency agency says a 1.5 million people, in a population of 21 million, have fled their homes.

– Sankara trial –

In a separate development on Monday, a military court in Ouagadougou said the long-awaited trial of Sankara’s alleged killers was being suspended until “the restoration of the constitution”.

Civilian plaintiffs had requested the suspension, arguing that the independence of the court was guaranteed by the constitution, and proceedings therefore could not continue if the constitution had been suspended.

The trial opened last October and has been closely followed by the Burkinabe public.

It has been showcased as the chance to shed light on one of the murkiest chapters in the troubled country’s history.

Fourteen defendants are on trial, two of them in absentia, including Compaore.

Compaore and his former right-hand man General Gilbert Diendere are charged with harming state security, complicity in murder, concealing bodies and witness tampering.

Compaore has repeatedly denied entrenched suspicions among Burkinabe that he ordered Sankara’s killing, while Diendere has pleaded not guilty.

Diendere is already serving a 20-year term for an attempted coup in 2015.

Source: Seychelles News Agency

Fuel prices to go up by 25 pesewas per litre in February – IES

Accra,- The prices of petrol, diesel, and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) will go up by at least 25 pesewas per litre in the first two weeks of February, this year, the Institute for Energy Security has projected.

The Institute said the impending increment would be higher than projected if the Price Stabilisation and Recovery Levy (PSRL), currently suspended, was not extended for the month of February.

In its projections for the February 2022 First Pricing Window, the IES attributed the expected increment to hike in Brent Crude prices, LPG among other commodities on the international market.

“The pending increases come on the back of an 8.52 per cent increase in the price of Brent crude, a 5.5 per cent rise in LPG price, a 6.23 per cent increase in price of Gasoline, and 9.86 per cent jump in Gasoil price; all on the international oil and fuel markets.

“Further depreciation of the Ghana Cedi against the US Dollar on the foreign exchange (Forex) market adds on to the factors that will push up the prices of the commodities on the local market,” it said.

The IES said the impending price increases could see all the major Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) crossing the Gh¢7 per litre mark for Gasoil and Gasoline, moving the price increases for both products over the past 6-months beyond the 16- percentage mark recorded at end of January 2022.

Petrol and diesel are currently selling at an average GHC6.9 and GHC7.0 per litre respectively at the local pumps.

Some OMCs are, however, selling both petrol and diesel for as low as GHC6.3 per litre.

Before the beginning of the year, both petrol and diesel were trading at GHC6.7 per litre at the pumps.

In its review of the January Second Pricing Window, the IES found that the price of international benchmark Brent rose within the period, pushing prices to an average of $87.16 per barrel, representing an increment of 8.52 per cent from the previous window’s average price of $80.30 per barrel.

Within the last two weeks, Brent crude price touched $90 a barrel, occasioned by the low cushing and distillate inventories, combined with the supply jitters in Europe, it said.

“In the last two weeks, the price of Gasoline increased by $48.31 per metric tonne (6.23 per cent) from its earlier price of $774.94 per metric tonne. The price of Gasoil rose sharply by 9.86 per cent, adding $68.61 per metric tonne, to end the two-week session at $764.61 per metric tonne,” it said.

The IES also found that the Ghanaian Cedi depreciated marginally against the U.S. Dollar by 0.2 per cent on average terms in the first pricing window of January 2022 to trade at Gh¢6.285 to the dollar, from the previous window’s rate of Gh¢6.262 to the international currency.

As part of measures to lessen the burden on consumers, the Government extended the suspension of the PSRL on petrol, diesel, and LPG to the end of January 2022.

The PSRL, which has been suspended since November, 2021, imposes a 16-pesewas-per litre levy on petrol, 14-pesewas per litre on diesel, and 14-per kilogram on LPG.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Government urged to support basket weaving in Upper East Region

Tarongo-Awaa (U/E), – The government has been urged to develop policy guidelines to support the straw basket weaving industry in the Upper East Region to increase the incomes of weavers and reduce poverty and vulnerabilities.

Players in the sector said apart from the foreign exchange the sector accrued to the government through exports of the hand-woven baskets, basket weaving was a big employment avenue for the people in Northern Ghana and had the potential to bridge the gap between the south and the north.

They, therefore, called on the government to invest and boost the sector by constructing weaving and training centres to produce quality baskets to meet international markets demands.

They also want the government to support farmers in northern Ghana to venture into the cultivation of the straw, the ‘vetiver grass or elephant grass,’ the main raw material for the basket production, to reduce the cost of importation and increase productivity.

The stakeholders made the appeal at Zorko-Tarongo-Awaa in the Bongo District of the Upper East Region at an awards ceremony organised by the Blessing Baskets Project Ghana, a straw basket export organisation.

The award scheme supported by Ten by Three, an international organisation, was meant to appreciate the efforts and contribution of Tarongo-Awaa Noyine Basket Weaving Group and its leader Ms Anafo Atanga who wove 542 baskets in 2021 and was adjudged the Ghana Weaver Artisan Entrepreneur of the year.

Ms Atanga was given a cheque of GHC1,583.00 while 18 sheep, valued at GHC7,500.00, were presented to some selected hardworking artisans of the group.

Mr Abdulai Asuah, Executive Director, Blessing Baskets Project Ghana, said due to the erratic rainfall caused by climate change and the effects of pandemics such as COVID-19, agriculture was no longer reliable and basket weaving had become the backbone of the local economy in the Upper East Region, employing thousands of vulnerable people, especially women.

He said the organisation exported about 20,000 pieces of baskets, equivalent to 40-foot seater container, every 45 days to foreign countries and called on the government through the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ghana Export Promotion Authority, to invest in the sector, to serve as a tool to reduce poverty in the region.

“Currently, we have to travel to the South to buy the straw and they are becoming expensive and so the government needs to take interest in the basket weaving industry and encourage farmers in the region to grow the straw because it is the only business in Northern Ghana that can produce sustainable income to households,” he said.

Ms Atanga expressed gratitude to Blessing Baskets Project Ghana and its partners for their support over the years and noted that it had become the lifeline of many families in the area.

She advised young unemployed graduates to venture into the basket weaving industry, which would fetch them a sustainable income.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Police warn potential car buyers to be wary of fraudsters

Tema,– Police Superintendent Kwabena Otuo Acheampong, the Tema Regional Crime Officer, has warned potential car and property buyers to be wary of fraudsters.

They should make sure that they do proper checks at the appropriate state institutions to make sure that they are into genuine business transactions.

“Fraudsters purported to be dealers in the automobile industry are taking advantage of the strategic advantage of Tema Port City to defraud people who are interested in buying cars and this calls for vigilance on the part of everybody.

Supt. Acheampong giving the warning at a seminar organized by the Ghana News Agency’s (GNA) Tema Regional Office said the fraudsters would at times display the cars on their online websites at incredibly cheaper prices, to trap unsuspecting people.

Everybody should make sure that they would go the extra mile to satisfy themselves that they are dealing with the right people to avoid being duped.

The Regional Crime Officer advised online buyers to only pay for any item they had ordered at the point of delivery, saying, “pay the money at the place, where the item is, do not be persuaded to move away from the property for payment, take custody and pay”.

He spoke against the situation where some people would contract supposed freight forwarders to clear their goods without even knowing their offices.

“Importers should go to a designated office to transact business with freight forwarders and clearing agents, meeting so-called agents at hotels and other places is at your own peril. Anytime you want to buy a car, do so at a garage, and, to make payment at the place where the car is and collect the keys.”

Supt. Acheampong said all must be smart as fraudsters now tend to dress in expensive cloth and rent expensive cars to create a good image of themselves.

Nobody should allow themselves to be fooled or deceived by anybody, presenting themselves as “a big person”.

The police would continue to carry out their mandate of preventing criminals from having their way and making life miserable for the law-abiding people.

Source: Ghana News Agency