Ghana– Ghana risks a repetition of the devastating bushfires of 1983 this year, unless collective action is taken to offset that threat, the Rural Fire Division of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) has warned.
The year 1983 saw nearly every blade of grass, shrubs, trees, food- stuffs barns, farms including game and in some cases whole communities and human beings reduced to ashes by that inferno.
It was a time in which the eye could see a sea of grey waste lands over a long distance as streams were reduced to long threads of gullies and game sought refuge in human habitations in search of food, water and protection. The cost was incalculable.
Mr Edwin Ekow Blankson, Deputy Chief Fire Officer in charge of Rural Fires, gave the warning at a Press briefing in Ho as he began a tour of some communities in the Volta Region notorious for bushfires as part of a nationwide tour.
Areas to be covered include Adaklu-Waya, Kpetoe and Anyirwase in the Adaklu, Kpetoe-Ziope and Ho-West Districts respectively where he would meet chiefs and opinion leaders to brainstorm on how to deal with the risk.
Bush Fire data provided by the Volta Regional Directorate of the Ghana National Fire Service indicated that by mid- January 2016 the Region had recorded 24 bushfires compared with 15 such fires for the whole of the same month in 2014 and 8 in 2015.
The total number of bushfires recorded in the Region in 2014 and 2015 stood at 33 each, nine more than the 24 recorded by mid- January this year.
The Meteorological Agency told the Ghana News Agency that the atmospheric heat being experienced in the country will continue and reach its peak in March, indicating that the rainy season is some months away, April being the earliest.
Mr Ekow Blankson said the GNFS had applied several strategies including public education to make people quit the habit of indiscriminate bush burning but the habit rather seemed to be digging in.
He said bush burning must be controlled and supervised by bushfire volunteers in the communities.
Mr Blankson said unlike the advanced countries Ghana could not afford helicopters to combat bushfires from the air hence the need for every citizen to show commitment to dealing with the menace.
He called for the review of the bushfire Law 229 0f 1990, which prescribed a sanction of 2.00 Cedis for causing damage to property through bushfires and make the punishment deterrent.
He also called on chiefs and other opinion leaders to refrain from begging for the release of culprits caught for bushfire offences.
Mr Blankson also appealed to the media especially radio stations for devote part of their airtime to educate the public on the dangers of bushfires.
District Assemblies should also pass anti-bushfires by-laws and provide one per cent of their internally generated revenue as provided by law to support the enforcement of those laws and to assist anti-bushfire volunteers.