The absence of laws to regulate maritime pollution in the country’s oil fields has left determination of compensation and punishment for spillage in the hands of oil producing companies, Joy News has learnt.
Even though oil spills are inevitable aspect of offshore oil operations as evidenced throughout the world, there is no law on maritime pollution since December 2010 when Ghana started commercial oil production.
However, the status quo may change soon. Joy News learnt that cabinet has approved a draft bill on maritime pollution expected to be laid in parliament under a certificate of urgency.
The memorandum accompanying the bill is yet to be made available to members of parliament for study. The bill will spell out clear punishment and compensation for communities and the country in the event of spillage on the seas.
Chairman of the parliamentary select committee on transport, Theophilus Tetteh Chaie says though there are a number of bills and instrument awaiting the consent of the house, priority will be given the maritime pollution bill, 2015 when it is presented to the house.
“As a country we are now producing oil and we are aware of the consequences when there is spillage but unfortunately there is no law at present governing the sector so the bill is crucial,” he said.
Parliament is expected to rise before the Christmas breaks and between now and then, attention is focussed on the presentation of the 2016 budget expected to be read on the 13th of this month.
The house requires at least one month to consider the estimates and approve the appropriation bill to give government the legal mandate to spend in 2016. Within the same period, members of the governing national democratic congress with majority in parliament will be engaged in internal politics ahead of the partys parliamentary primaries on November 21.
But Transport Minister Dzifa Attivor is hopeful the house will pass the bill before it rises.
“We are in a crucial stage and everything must be done to ensure that parliament pass this bill so oil companies working on the rig are guided by the details in the law,” she said.