Ghana — The Brong-Ahafo Region, which is certainly one of the most scenic regions in Ghana, boasts of rare unspoiled beauty, an agriculture center, which amongst its features has a large reserve of forest, cocoa plantations and endless acres of food crops, is gradually losing these envious natural resources to recurrent bushfires.
The region, which has an estimated 70 per cent of its population engaged in agriculture, and agriculture-related businesses, with the main cultivated crops being maize, yam, cashew, cocoa, coffee, garden eggs, cassava and plantain, is losing the accolade of being the nation’s principal food basket.
Despite having great potential for investment in agriculture, the people in the region adhere to the habit of destroying the vegetation indiscriminately with bushfires, regardless to the frequent education and sensitization campaigns by the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) and Regional Anti-Bushfire Campaign Committee.
The burning of the vegetation, along the major roads within the region, is a clear manifestation of the situation, which calls for urgent attention, otherwise the tropical climate, of temperature averaging over 23.90 degree Celsius, and the double maximum rainfall pattern, would be affected as well.
The Brong-Ahafo Regional Directorate of the Ghana National Fire Service, in its quest to curb the situation, has arrested 24 people, in connection with their involvement in 240 bushfire cases recorded during this harmattan season, and have been arraigned before the law court for prosecution.
He said the 24 people were arrested in an exercise conducted by a special task force, fire educationists and the fire volunteer units of the GNFS
The Regional Director, Mr. Kwaku Manu Afful, speaking to The Chronicle, disclosed that 159 cases were recorded in December last year alone, whilst 81 cases were recorded in January, across the region.
According to Mr. Afful, most of the outbreaks were caused by ignorance of human activities, through smoking, group hunting and farmers, who cook in the farm and leave the fires smouldering.
He gave the assurance that the cases at the court, would be pursued strictly to ensure that culprits receive the appropriate punishment, to serve as a deterrent to others, and intensify public campaign on prevention of bushfires.
The Regional Fire Officer raised the concern that there was only one fire tender for the Sunyani, Techiman and Wenchi municipalities, as well as the Kintampo and Nkoranza districts, whilst Goaso, Hwidiem, Duayaw-Nkwanta, Seikwa, Atebubu and Dormaa-Ahenkro have fire tenders, but were faulty.
He said the Japekrom, Yeji and Sampa districts, lack the facility stressing that the situation was a major challenge confronting the GNFS in the region.
Mr. Afful indicated that support from only the government was not enough, and therefore called on the public for support, since fire prevention was a shared responsibility, and appealed to companies, individuals and non-governmental organizations to support the GNFS, by providing wellington boots and machetes, among others, to fire volunteers in communities to enhance their work.
He called on communities in the region, to get involve in the fight against bushfires, by forming fire volunteer groups, and report all those responsible for causing bushfires, to the appropriate authorities for their arrest and prosecution.
Mr. Afful commended the attitude of community members, who helped arrest culprits, who were engaged in causing bushfires in the various communities.