By Gilbert Boyefio
The Member of Parliament for Takoradi, Hon. Kwabena Otchere-Darko, has urged players in the extractive industry sin Ghana to rally together to sponsor a bill that would address the safety needs of the extractive industry.
He said the absence of an omnibus law on safety to regulate the sector is a big disincentive to players of the industry and their investments.
This will introduce significant challenges in a country without an existing safety culture, an underdeveloped HSE regulatory framework, limited HSE training opportunities and without an established system for certifying the competency of either HSE professionals or the general technical labour force. Local content and HSE standards are inexorably linked.
“Laws are very important and I believe that it is high time we enact a safety law especially for the extractive industry. I know that there is the Factory Act that has some level of safety in there. But it is better if we get a complete safety law or combination of laws that can be put together or a framework of laws that the industry can apply,” he said.
Currently there is no specific law on safety that safeguards the extractive industry. Most players in the industry want to see regulations being published to create a level of certainty across board and its absence has created a vacuum or grey area encouraging some players to do what they want.
In a brief interview with the Orient Energy Review (OER) at the second Ghana Extractive Industry Safety Conference (GEISCon) 2016, under the theme “Developing a Sustainable Culture to Safeguard Lives and Properties”, Hon Otchere-Darko pointed out that the fact that many of the big companies have acquired rich experiences from operating at other places and for the interest of their profit they take safety serious, the safety culture in the extractive industry would have been worse off, as is evident in the other sectors of the country.
He said stakeholders need to find a way to integrate these experiences of the international oil companies horizontally and vertically across all the industries in the country in the absence of a proper law.
Asked what the parliament doing about it, Hon. Otchere-Darko said ‘In Africa, and Ghana, we have laws that debar MPs from initiating a private member bill. These laws were enacted in the colonial era, but dictatorship and the African’s attitude to centralized power has kept them still in our books. If we are able to take these laws out of our books, our safety issues and other laws that needs to be enacted would have been done long time ago.
It is very important that we create that space in our Constitution so that all these grey areas MPs on their own can push those changes through’ he said.
Orient Energy Review sougth his opinion on what can be done in the interim and this was his response “If they are not careful they might lose their investments and license. So in the interim industry should come together and start working on something that would represent their interest and also secure the industry.
Now that the Chamber of Commerce has taken this up, they can get other industry groups to come on board to put together a framework that would guide all the industry players. He opined.