The Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, Hon. Dr. Henry Kwabena Kokofu, Esq. has disclosed that the EPA is currently undergoing major reforms which are intended to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its operations during the performance of its key mandate of protecting and improving Ghana’s environment.
Speaking on the Eye on Port program, the Executive Director of the EPA revealed that some of these reforms include automation, infrastructural acquisition and capacity building which would equip the agency serve the entire jurisdiction of Ghana efficiently and effectively.
Dr. Kokofu said the EPA has embarked on full automation reforms where people do not need to visit the EPA’s offices to transact business.
He averred that “From the comfort of one’s home, he or she can review environmental management plans, environmental impact assessment online’’.
He added that turnaround time for the provision of environmental permits have been drastically reduced from about 25 days to 5 days, whereas the EPA has in place, appeal systems for the refusal of permits.
The EPA Boss, a lawyer and former Member of Parliament for Bantama said while there remain a lot of room for improvement, logistics in terms of vehicles have been beefed up to augment the work of officers of the agency.
He revealed that the Environmental Protection Agency’s workforce over the past year have increased from 300 to 700 nationwide as they hope to increase that to 1000 in the near future.
He said “Those new entrants are being adequately trained and those existing officers are being retrained with the right skills to do their work well’’.
Dr. Kokofu also indicated that the EPA now has offices in all the regions of Ghana and plans are ongoing to have presence in every district.
This includes the restoration of the Dunkwa Offin office which was previously closed due to its proximity to the Obuasi office.
“That office had to be restored because it was important due to the mining activities there,” he explained.
He however lamented the state of some of the EPA’s offices expressing the need to rescale them to decent levels of safety.
Dr. Henry Kwabena Kokofu also disclosed that an agreement has been reached for office space to be allocated to the agency to enable its officials relocate to the ports in the ensuing days to begin work in earnest.
He said the return to the country’s ports is for purposes of providing guidance and direction on the handling of hazardous and environmentally unfriendly goods.