Sunyani — The Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) has launched the 2018/2019 national bushfire prevention campaign at Sunyani in the Brong Ahafo Region.
The event was on the theme "Our future depends on sustaining the environment, let us prevent bushfires now."
In a speech read on his behalf, Ambrose Derry, Minister for Interior, noted that the wanton destruction of the vegetation by bushfires had impacted negatively on the sustainability of the environment, emphasizing the need for stringent measures to stem the tide.
He said 1,837 bushfires were recorded in 2016 as against a significant reduction to 611 in 2017. However, as at October this year, 866 cases had been recorded saying "indications point to the fact that figures could get to 1,000 by the close of the year," he added.
The Minister said wildfires pose serious threat to the 'Planting for Food and Jobs' programme, particularly in the Savannah and the transitional zones of the country.
He therefore urged the GNFS to train more fire volunteers to assist farmers to adopt good farming practices that would not cause any unwanted fires that could wipe away their investments.
The Chief Fire Officer, Mr Ekow Blankson, noted that previous anti-bushfire campaigns failed to yield the expected results, thus the rising number of cases in the country.
To this end, he said the 2018/2019 campaign would involve stakeholders' engagements to solicit relevant information to achieve the intended purpose.
He observed that the inability of the GNFS to combat fire effectively was as a result of dwindling national support over the years to the service, especially in the area of logistics.
He added that non-enforcement of anti-bushfire bye laws and inadequate punitive punishment for fire offenders had compounded the situation.
The Krontihene of Sunyani, Nana Oboaman Bofotia Boamponsem II, who chaired the programme called on law enforcement agencies not to accept pleas by traditional authorities on behalf of fire offenders.
He stated that the practice of chiefs intervening to free fire offenders has emboldened others to commit the offence with impunity.