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Minister issues one-week ultimatum to steel factory to curb pollution

Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng wants Rider Steel factory to provide the Ministry with a roadmap to address its poor pollution management or face sanctions

The Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) has given Rider Steel Company Ltd a one-week ultimatum to improve conditions, or face sanctions over pollution at its factory.

He said the company must sit with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to draw up a workable roadmap to curb pollution from its factory. 

Professor Frimpong-Boateng warned that the company will be sanctioned severely if it fails to adhere to the directive.

The minister expressed disappointment at how much pollution the company is belching out into the environment. Dark smoke could be seen, billowing with metal dust, reducing visibility and virtually choking the factory premises.

“The filtration system is not working properly and the dust from the filter is not well collected, as there is a leakage in the receptacle.

“I feel like closing the factory down, but apart from seeing that they are making efforts to change the filters, we are also not in normal times because of the COVID-19. They should sit with the EPA and bring a written roadmap for the correction of all the lapses.”

Faulty chamber

Professor Frimpong-Boateng said his ministry had received several reports from other companies in the Free Zones Enclave on the consistently reckless manner in which pollutants are emitted by Rider Steel.

This, he said, informed his unannounced visit to the Free Zones Enclave in Tema.

The minister said it was urgent to get the roadmap from the company, as their chimney is emitting bad smoke. He added he had also observed that the chamber for melting the metals was also faulty.

The general manager of Rider Steel, T P Patnaik, said the company is in the process of changing its filters to reduce the level of pollution at the factory. 

He said engineers who had been engaged to work on the machines could not come into the country because of the global pandemic.

Workers’ demonstration

In November 2019, a group of steel factory workers at the Free Zones Enclave in Tema embarked on a demonstration against smoke emissions in the area.

The workers, all clad in red, were calling on the government to fast-track interventions to clamp down on two factories – Rider Steel and United Steel – for flouting regulations set by the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA insists that smoke chimneys be elevated to approved levels.

Carrying placards with slogans such as “Toxic emissions are unacceptable”, “People should be held responsible” and “We are dying slowly”, the factory workers complained that their lives have been put in danger by the emissions.

“We are dying, I have been to the hospital twice and the doctor is telling me not to work, but there is nothing for me to do. We have lost two of our colleagues and we are scared,” he said.

Shutdown

Earlier, the EPA ordered United Steel and Rider Steel to shut down for not complying with Ghana’s environmental safety regulations.

The deputy executive director of the EPA, Ebenezer K Appah-Sampong, told JoyBusiness that a task force has been deployed to the site to ensure both steel factories shut down.

“As per the procedures, when you have such non-compliance issues you engage them after your investigations and then agree on a certain roadmap to ensure that it is fixed permanently.

“Our records indicate that we have exhausted that process and we are not waiting any more. We wrote to the two companies on 1 July to shut down operations and then fix the problem before we can allow them to work,” he said.

Ghana is ranked 124 in the 2018 Environmental Performance Index, which ranks 180 countries for environmental health and vitality of their ecosystems.

Source
 Ghana News Agency 
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