GSA calls for mandatory stress tests for all public buildings

Accra-The Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) has called for a stress test to be carried out on all buildings and properties used by the public within the next 12

months to ensure safety.

These include all government offices, banks, private businesses, malls, markets, churches and mosques.

Professor Alex Dodoo, the Director-General of the GSA, who made the call, said it is in the interest of the country for all buildings used by the public, including government buildings and private ones accessed by the public, to to undergo the necessary tests and be certified.

The audit of the buildings, offices, malls, markets and places of worship and the issuance of a stress certificate to those who passed the test, would enhance the confidence of the public who access such properties, Prof. Dodoo said in an interview with the Ghana News Agency.

The stress test allows the identification of the weaknesses in the building and rectify them and get a certificate confirming the fitness of the certified building he said.

The call came on the back of the recent collapse of a ceiling at one of the shopping centres at the Accra Mall.

The Accra mall incidence is a near-miss as well as a scary wake-up call and we should take immediate action to prevent avoidable disasters. “As a matter of urgency all public buildings should in the next 12 months be subject to a stress test and certificate of the test pasted there so that if a problem happens whoever undertook the test could be taken to task, Prof. Dodoo said.

He said with the new Ghana Building Code in place, it was necessary to begin testing all buildings at all levels as it is the case in developed countries, where buildings are tested at every stage from the soil, to the laying of the foundation through to the roofing stage and final completion as well as fire and electrical installations.

You can even build to the specification and the reason why you have to undertake an independent examination of buildings, especially from a third party agency, mostly a government agency, is to ensure that you meet the state’s requirements, he said.

He said the assessment would examine if construction works had been done according to standards and if they had been tested at every stage of the process.

He said with the new GSA building code passed, the GSA as well as private accredited laboratories should now start testing buildings and giving their certificates to the District Assemblies for them to use to as the basis for giving the relevant building permits and certificates of occupancy.

He said if this was done, the collapse of buildings would be reduced to the barest minimum, adding that, certification is an attestation of quality, which involves testing and inspection before a certificate is issued.

He said GSA had asked a third party laboratory to undertake a test on all its buildings to enable the authority to rectify any inherent weaknesses identified.

On the recent banking crisis, Prof. Dodoo stressed the need for appropriate management systems certification to ensure that the processes used in corporate organisations was in line with global best practice.

He lamented the fact that only a few companies in Ghana have adequate quality management systems and business continuation plans that would ensure that the company can keep on running in times of crisis or unexpected exigencies.

What the banking crisis had shown us is that we need to have management systems. Basically anytime we use the word standards people begin to think it is a big thing. But it is only a document of requirements and features of products, processes and services to ensure that there is consistency and reliability, he said.

In the banking sector, the whole world has realised that there are certain standards that everybody adheres to � the bank’s profitability is ensured, the sustainability is ensured and above all, the consumer is protected. One of them is ISO 27001, a standard that basically tells how to keep your data safe, and provide for the integrity of your data, he added.

He said in the banking sector, especially a quality management systems certification should be mandatory as is the case in Cote d’Ivoire.

He said it was the view of GSA that standards should apply to management processes and business continuity plans.

In the light of the banking crisis, the recommendation to government is that certain management systems standards should be mandatory and to make it more efficient it should start from government institutions, Prof. Dodoo added.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Ghana makes significant gains in controlling measles – Officer

Sunyani,Ghana has made significant gains in controlling measles for the past 15 years because no child has died of the disease within the period and the number of children who contracted it also reduced drastically.

Madam Nana Ama Asirifi, the Brong-Ahafo Regional Health Promotion Officer indicated this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Sunyani.

She said the introduction of immunisation against childhood killer diseases like measles had improved the health of children in the country.

Madam Asirifi however expressed worry that measles outbreak continued to occur in some parts of the country and mostly affected children under five years, adding that over 40 per cent of negative measles cases tested positive for rubella.

She therefore urged mothers to cooperate with immunisation officials in the upcoming vaccination exercise against measles/rubella from the Wednesday 17 to Monday 22 October for their children of nine months to under five years to be immunised to sustain the gains the nation had made.

She said the immunisation would take place at health centres and a number of temporary immunisation places set up in schools, markets, churches, bus stations and all communities in the country.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Regulate Prayer Camps – Human Rights Advocates urges government

AccraCivil Society Organisations have called for the registration, regulation and control of prayer camps to stem human rights abuses.

The CSO’s, in Civil and Human Rights, also called for effective and independent monitoring and reporting system for mental health and social care institutions so that abuses at these camps were investigated and culprits prosecuted.

Inmates of these prayer camps suffer ill-treatment such as shackling and mandatory fasting.

The CSO’s made the call during a meeting to discuss Ghana’s progress report on condition of detention centres, harmful practices, persons with disabilities and psychiatric treatments.

The meeting is also a follow up to the United Nations Human Rights Committee’s recommendation to Ghana.

The CSO’s include Amnesty International, BasicNeeds Ghana, Human Rights Advocacy Centre, POS Foundation and representatives from the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General, Minister of Gender and Social Protection and the Ghana Prisons Service.

The meeting was convened by Human Rights Advocacy Centre and Centre for Civil and Political Rights both non-governmental organisations.

Leading the discussions on Persons with disability and Psychiatric practices, Mr Anaba Sunday Atua, Project Officer of BasicNeeds Ghana, noted there were about 840 prayers camps across the country but a few of them were regulated.

According to him although his organisation had taken up the challenge to educate operators of these prayer camps on the need for them to respect the rights of persons with mental disability and also refer them to the various psychiatric hospitals for medical examinations.

Currently, it was difficult to place the prayer camp operators under the Ministry of Health and called for effective guidelines for their operations in the country.

Mr Atua further observed that Ghana’s Commitment to the implementation of the UN Human Rights recommendation in the area of health and mental care still leaved much to be desired.

Mr Atua, therefore, suggested the passage of the Legislative Instrument (LI) of the Mental Health Act 846 with a levy to resource the Mental Health Fund.

He appealed to the CSO’s to push government to pass the Mental Health LI by the mid-year 2019.

Mr Atua observed that the Mental Health Authority has developed a draft mental health policy which would address challenges of the various psychiatric hospitals.

Currently Mental health Units have been established in 216 district hospital and health centres to provide decentralised mental health treatment service, he stressed.

Mr Solomon Akumun, Programmes Officer for POS Foundation noted that although Ghana was guided by the UN Standards Minimum rules for the treatment of Prisoners, the prison conditions in the country prisons is yet to depict so.

According to Mr Akumun, the country’s prisons were still heavily overcrowded and congested adding that the total authorised capacity of all the prisons in Ghana is 9,875; however, as at the end of September 2018, the total prison population was 15,063.

This indicates a general overcrowding rate of 52.5 per cent at the end of September this year.

He said the sleeping conditions of inmates remained appalling due to overcrowding and that also constituted emotional and psychological torture.

Mr Cecil Adadevoh, a Principal State Attorney, tasked the CSO’s to also take a look at health needs of the inmates.

According to Mr Adadevoh chapter five of the 1992 Constitution enjoins all Ghanaians to enjoy civil and political rights.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Freda Prempeh presents uniforms to 200 CPA in Tano North

Duayaw-Nkwanta, (B/A), � Mrs Freda Prempeh, the Deputy of Minister of Works and Housing on Monday, presented specially designed uniforms to 200 Community Protection Assistants (CPA) in the Tano North Municipality of Brong-Ahafo, engaged under the Youth Employment Agency (YEA).

She said so far the YEA has engaged more than 2,600 youth in the municipality under the various modules of the programme.

Mrs Prempeh, who is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Tano North constituency, added that the Agency would soon introduce youth in prisons, youth in sports and youth in mines modules and many of the teeming employed youth would be engaged.

At a short ceremony at Duayaw-Nkwanta, the MP said government is determined to create more jobs for the youth to enhance their socio-economic livelihood, and advised those who have not registered with the YEA, to do so for their own good.

Mrs Prempeh expressed regret about the destruction of the Bosomkese and other forest reserves in the area, due to illegal logging and uncontrolled chainsaw operations and appealed to the forest fringe communities to be a watchdog and help arrest the situation.

The MP said 550 youth in the area have been engaged as forest guards and tasked them to intensify patrols and protect the forest reserves.

Mr Michael Osei Boateng, the Brong-Ahafo Regional Director of the YEA, reminded the CPAs that it is their responsibility to support the police in crime combat.

He said the Agency would not tolerate any act of indiscipline, and advised them to work according to instructions.

Mr Boateng said they had no power to arrest, but rather inform the police about people with questionable characters and trouble makers in the communities.

The YEA Director cautioned the CPAs against alcoholism, saying offending personnel would be dismissed.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Ghanaians urged not to underestimate values in vocational education

Accra� Elegant Celebration Institute, a catering and decor training centre at Abelenkpe in Accra has held its 3rd graduation with a call on Ghanaians to hold vocationally trained persons in high esteem as they contribute immensely to nation building.

The institute, which offers courses in basic sugar craft, cookery, floral decor, flower and ribbon art, pastry, among others, graduated 10 persons at the event.

They were also taken through financial and time management, savings, customer care and pressure handling.

Mrs Wendy Poku, the proprietor of the institute who made the call said society would have a lot to gain if they could have faith and encourage the youth to pursue vocational or technical courses rather than allowing them to idle around and lose valuable time by engaging in unprofitable ventures.

She urged parents to encourage their children to pursue their God-given natural talents, self-chosen careers, passion with guidance and coaching from them (parents).

Mrs Poku asked parents not to perceive vocational courses as expensive and thereby deny their children’s enrolment for a career because they stand to gain life-time dividends from the investment they made.

She advised the graduates to be patient in their work, have confidence in themselves and should not allow minor mistakes to derail their focus because in due course, they would be perfected.

She said the Institute, for the past couple of years have trained about 30 persons and that though enrolment was high, a number of trainees fell along the way during the courses for various reasons.

Mrs Poku called on the public to engage the graduates of the Institute who had had relevant skills training to deliver quality services to them.

Source: Ghana News Agency