Plans are afoot for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to return to the country’s ports for purposes of providing guidance and direction on the handling of hazardous and environmentally unfriendly goods.

Executive Director of the EPA, Dr. Henry Kwabena Kokofu says an agreement has already 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 also intimated that the EPA will play a key role in the inspection of goods at the ports alongside already existing state agencies which carry out that mandate.

“I was told EPA was sacked at the port to shorten the inspection line. But I told them EPA should be the first here. So we are going back,” he said.

Dr. Kokofu who was speaking on Eye on Port explained that the move is aimed at ensuring that the agency which is imbued with the right technical acumen to ensure the avoidance of the importation and or mishandling of environmentally unfriendly and hazardous goods is well represented at the country’s main entry point for imports.

He said it is not enough for the Environmental Protection Agency to grant permits to operators and clients within the port space.

According to him, the institution’s presence is needed to ensure that the conditions for which these permits and licenses were given are being respected and complied with.

He also expressed the need to deepen the presence of the EPA at the ports especially in the area of participating in the decision making process in the handling of uncleared cargoes at the port, which is currently under the domain of customs.

The EPA boss, a lawyer and former Member of Parliament for Bantama said the agency’s presence will be to achieve the objectives of inspection, monitoring, storage, transportation and disposal of hazardous cargo from Ghana’s ports.

He said it is very important the Environmental Protection Agency becomes conspicuous in the area of industry, especially the ports of Ghana, and has begun intensive sensitization of organisations of their responsibilities to the environment and by extension, to the EPA.

Dr. Kokofu said his outfit would rely on the law to ensure that all operators working within Ghana’s industrial enclaves like the port are regulated sufficiently within the requirements of environmental laws and guidelines.

He revealed that the EPA has had extensive discussions with stakeholders that would bring about the introduction of air pollution monitors that would take care of air pollution within the Tema Metropolis due to the high industrial activity within that enclave.

“GHACEM has one which we all use to check if we are within the parameters. But we have said that is not enough. We need a work station that would do the monitoring for the entire Metropolis.”

These activities, he explained, are very important, because industrial areas such as the ports are very volatile to the environment and the EPA wishes to ensure that some catastrophic occurrences that have been witnessed in other ports in the world do not happen in Ghana.

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