GUTA accuses Aviation Minister of usurping powers of MoH
The Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) has accused the Minister of Aviation, Joseph Kofi Adda, of usurping the powers and authority of the Minister of Health (MoH).
The Association is agitated that the Minister has been relaxed in ensuring proper disinfection of the airports where traders and businessmen and women transact business, by taking delivery of parcels and cargoes on a daily basis in these critical times when efforts are being made to curtail the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Even more shocking and dangerous, according to the GUTA executives, is the fact that domestic flight operations have begun, and traders and the generality of the Ghanaian people are commuting to and from various destinations, a trend they argue, should have prompted the Minister to swiftly move in to implement and enforce safety measures, including disinfecting aircraft and cargoes.
The Minister, in a statement dated May 15, 2020, bordering on a recent disinfection exercise at the Kotoka International Airport, accused Messrs. David Kwadwo Amoateng and Nana Poku, Greater Accra Regional Chairman and Secretary of GUTA respectively, of making pronouncements that were calculated at causing disaffection for him and the Managing Director of the Ghana Airports Company Limited, Mr. Yaw Kwakwa.
The two GUTA executives have accused the Minister of taking the safety and lives of their members who transact business at the airports for granted, by refusing to adhere to a directive from the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyemang Manu, through a letter dated May 17, 2019, to take steps to comply with International Legislation concerning International Health Regulations for disinfection of Ghana’s airports.
The Aviation Minister’s letter read in part: “Matters of Aviation policy and Airport management principles and standards, as well as internationally approved procedures, are highly specialised that Messrs. Amoateng and Poku are not sufficiently qualified to make pronouncements or pass judgement on, especially regarding the ability, management capacity and competence of senior management officers of the sector.
But, at a press conference on Tuesday May, 19, 2020, the two GUTA executives described the Aviation Minister as the one who is rather ignorant and incompetent. According to them, they are better informed and abreast of issues as far as the industry is concerned, particularly in this era of the COVID-19, than the Minister, citing the Mr. Adda’s posturing, pronouncements and actions.
They argue that it is the Ministry of Health and Ghana Health Service that have jurisdiction over all matters relating to health and disinfection at the airports, and not the Ministry of Aviation and Ghana Airports Company Limited.
A statement read at the press conference stated in part: “It is clear from your statement that you still do not understand what we are talking about. Open your eyes! The world has a pandemic called COVID 19. Dealing with viruses and pandemics by LAW is under the jurisdiction of MINISTRY OF HEALTH not MINISTRY OF AVIATION. Your ego has blocked your reasoning and has accelerated the spread of the Virus and loss of Ghanaian lives.”
The statement continued: “Overwhelming information came from the stakeholders’ meetings with the Ministry of Health. We do not think even you can tell the Minister of Health how he should be doing and conducting disinfection at the borders. They have a huge department called Port Health, and they actually have offices at the airports. It is Ghana Health Service, not the Ghana Airport Company, which checks people’s temperature and yellow cards when they come in and out of passport control. This is a prime example of the way things should be at the airport concerning health matters, and now you are trying to change it in a way that is challenging common sense and the law.”
GUTA says it is unbelievable that the Minister would ask for a contract with the approved disinfection company, but has no contracts with the Port Health Unit, Ghana Immigration Service, Police and Customs, which all operate in the airports.
“Do you have contracts with Port Health, Immigration Service, the Police, Customs, for them to be at the Airport? GHS has already contracted the Disinfection Health Service more than a year ago. You have not helped them to perform a public duty, and now that there is PANDEMIC and people of Ghana want answers, you claim that you are under duress, which is caused by the fact that you failed to act on the Minister of Health’s letter dated 17th May 2019, with the reference number MOH/OM/LCB-AV/14919. You want everyone to come and sign contracts with you, even though it has nothing to do with you, because of your selfish interest,” they posited.
According to them, it is clear that the Minister, who cites some cost elements as part of reasons why the legitimate company contracted to carry out disinfections at the Airports, LCB Worldwide Ghana Limited has not been allowed to carry out its mandate, does not value the lives of Ghanaians.
“Mr Minister, how much does the life of a Ghanaian worth? According to your explanation, not $20. Traders are business people; we know there is no free lunch; one way or another we the traders of Ghana who are the hard currency owners of this country, who are the taxpayers of this country, will end up paying for it. Whether it will be from airport taxes, air ticket charges, we don’t know where the payment will come from, but we know that we will end up paying for it. Whatever the cost is, it is not worth losing our lives. This is the principal reason why we have supported and paid for the Disinfection Health Service at the ports of Tema and Takoradi.”
Again, they accuse the Aviation Minister of incompetence, saying it was under his watch that Ghana recorded her first COVID-19 case through the airport, which then spread across the country.