Accra, Dec.7, GNA - Mr Dominic Nitiwul, the Minister of Defence, has said government would procure 50 brand new buses for the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) and six patrol boats for the Navy, next year, as part of the retooling efforts.
He said the country’s petroleum installations and resources should be protected but ‘‘because we don’t have enough patrol boats to protect the Jubilee Oilfields, the oil companies bring in speed boats and they pay $11,000 dollars per boat and if we have the facilities all these monies would have come to us’’.
The Minister said the law required that soldiers should not board ‘Trotro’ (commercial transport) with their uniforms, but due to lack of buses to convey them to work every day, some soldiers wore civilian clothing and took commercial vehicles to work and upon reaching the office they changed into their uniforms.
‘‘It is disheartening that our soldiers return from peacekeeping in Lebanon and then we put them in TB vehicles called ‘Abongo buses’ to Tamale. I think the Military deserves better,’’ he said.
Mr Nitiwul said this at the Meet-the-Press Series in Accra on Thursday to update the public on the happenings in the Military and measures being put in place to address some teething challenges facing it.
He said the retooling of the Military was very crucial and the country should not trade it for anything else.
‘‘It is necessary for the Armed Forces to get the vehicles, drones, guns and aeroplanes because if you’re a country and you don’t have air cover, you’re sitting dark because one Air-16 Fighter can stand 20 kilometres away and bomb every asset you have and you can’t do anything,’’ he said.
Mr Nitiwul said the Armed Forces was collaborating with the Fisheries Ministry to control illegal fishing in the country’s territorial waters and, therefore, needed logistics to patrol the ocean.
He noted that the country’s territorial waters was 200 nautical miles equivalent to 300 km into the sea and 530 km onshore, therefore the Military needed surveillance planes and drones to monitor illegal foreign fishing vessels in order to stop them from depleting the fish stock.
‘‘The Navy has arrested several persons who go to the high seas with wooden boats to steal untreated oil called ‘Makai’ and sell them to fuel filling stations.
‘‘Last time the Navy in Takoradi seized 27,000 litres of untreated oil from those people but the Navy could not use it because it’s bad oil. But some managed to sell to tankers so the Navy and Armed Forces need the necessary logistics to stop them,’’ he said.
Mr Nitiwul said government would renovate the Military Training schools to create congenial atmosphere for teaching and learning and equip the Special Forces to perform their mandate effectively.
The Meet-the-Press attracted the top echelon of the Military High Command including Lieutenant General Obed Boamah Akwa, the Chief of Defence Staff, Major General William Azure-Ayamdo, the Chief of Army Staff, Rear Admiral Peter Kofi Fiadoo, the Chief of the Naval Staff, Dr Jacob Agyekum, the Chief Director of the Ministry of Defence and the Deputy Minister of Defence, Major (Rtd) Derek Oduro, who is also the Member of Parliament for Nkoranza North.