Minority supports lockdown of the country in response to COVID-19

The Minority in Parliament has added its voice to calls by some organizations and individuals for the country to go into an immediate lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The Caucus said the exponential jump in the number of coronavirus cases from 68 to 132 cases in a day shows that the situation was not getting any better and that things are growing from bad to worse.

“With the kind of expertise at the disposal of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) and echoed by some well-meaning Ghanaians, I think that the time has come for the government to listen to wise counsel,” Mr James Agalga, Ranking Member of Defence and Interior Committee, said on Thursday.

In an interaction with the media at Parliament House in Accra, Mr Agalga, who is also the MP for Builsa North Constituency, refuted claims by a section of the people that a lockdown is not practical in Ghana.

A section of the public is of the view that a lockdown should not be introduced in Ghana in the face of coronavirus pandemic because of Ghana’s large informal sector and concerns on how the government is going to provide for the needs of the masses in case of a lockdown.

Mr Agalga urged Government to look for funds and support the country to go into an immediate lockdown.

Mr Agalga referred to suggestion from Mr Cassiel Ato Forson, Minority Ranking Member on Finance, to the Government of Ghana to tap into the resources that have accrued from the Eurobond the country issued to deal with the coronavirus crisis.

Citing India and South Africa which are in a lockdown, Mr Agalga said these countries have the same characteristics like Ghana and that government can draw useful lessons from those countries.

Mr Agalga, who is also a former Deputy Minister for the Interior, expressed concern about the country’s overcrowded prisons and appealed to President Nana Akufo-Addo to exercise his prerogative of mercy under the 1992 Constitution of Ghana to grant pardon to petty offenders who have been incarcerated in order to decongest the country’s prisons.

He explained that at the moment the country’s prison population is about 14,000 and yet the prison facilities can only contain about 8,000 inmates, meaning that, overcrowding in the prisons is about 50 percent.

“In this trying moment, we must not forget our prison inmates” Mr Agalga said adding that should there be any outbreak of the coronavirus disease in the prisons, the nation would be heading towards a disaster.

The former Deputy Interior Minister said the last time the President granted pardon to prison inmates in the country was ten days after he had been sworn into office in 2017, and since then he has not granted pardon to prisons inmates.

“I am saying that there is a compelling reason why those powers which are provided under constitution be invoked at this moment,” he said.