Atomic Energy Commission can't pay for power, fuel – Director laments

Director General of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), Prof Benjamin Nyarko, has revealed despite many appeals for government’s mandatory support, the Commission is still struggling for funds to operate.
Speaking in an interview on current affairs programme, Hard Truth on the Joy News channel (MultiTV), Prof Nyarko said apart from salaries, government support has been severely deficient.
“As for the salaries of the workers, the government pays us from Controller and Accountants Generals Department, so we don’t have any course to complain. But what to get things done is what we are lacking,” he said.
He suspects a misconception about the role of the Commission and science in general in national development has been the reason previous administrations have neglected the critical government agency for years.
“Apart from Nkrumah and Colonel Acheampong, no head of state has been to the Atomic Agency before,” he said, to highlight what he believes to be a disinterest by policy-makers at the top hierarchy of governance in the work of the Commission.
He, however, justifies the Commission’s role in national development by citing applications of nuclear technology to all sectors “from archeology to zoology”, according to him, as the reason for the government to provide the critical support.
He revealed that unknown to many, the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission played a vital role in the construction of the West Africa Gas Pipeline by conducting non-destructive testing on the strength of the infrastructure before gas started flowing.
“In the health sector if you go to Korle Bu or Komfo Anokye [hospitals] you find people queuing for radiotherapy. Radiotherapy is a nuclear technique,” he defends.
Read: Nuclear weapons: Ghana flies last Uranium to China This will not be the first time the GAEC is making headlines because of poor government support.
In February this year, the Commission shut down its labs temporarily due to piled up electricity bills to the tune of GH¢500,000. Prof Nyarko explained, at the time, that the debt accumulated before the Commission was rolled onto the prepaid metering system in 2015.
But the financial situation of the Commission still remains dire, Prof Nyarko told the host of Hard Truth, Nana Akosua Konadu, on Wednesday. “I am stuck with how to get money to buy electricity credit and also to get fuel for the cars. It is very difficult,” he said.
He said funds to buy chemicals for research are unavailable. “Nothing comes in,” he said.
“What we do is we try as much as possible to work out our own methodology to get some funds from IGF [Internally Generated Funds] to do the job,” he revealed, however, government takes a huge chunk of the IGFs too.
“Last year, the [Government of Ghana] funding that was released to the whole Atomic Energy Commission, which has seven institutes, was GH¢79,000…for the whole year, but they approved about GH¢ 500,000 but only GH¢ 79,000 was released,” he laments.
He explained that had it not been for the support of the International Atomic Energy Agency, training of staff and other activities would not have been possible.
Watch the full programme in the video link below
About the GAEC
The Ghana Atomic Energy Commission was established by an Act of Parliament, Act 204 of 1963, as the sole Agency in Ghana responsible for all matters relating to peaceful uses of atomic energy.
The Act 204 was amended in 1993 by PNDC Law 308 mainly to enable it to create other institutes under the Commission. This amendment resulted in the creation of two other Institutes in addition to the National Nuclear Research Institute (NNRI) formerly Kwame Nkrumah Nuclear Research Institute (KNNRI). The two Institutes are the Radiation Protection Institute and the Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute (BNARI).
The founding Act 204 of 1963 has been superseded by Act 588 of 2000 to make provision for GAEC to undertake commercialisation of its research and development results.
The functions of the Commission as prescribed in Act 588 of 2000 are: To make proposals to the Government for Legislation in the field of nuclear radiation and radioactive waste management. To advise the Government on questions relating to nuclear energy, science and technology.
To establish, for the purpose of research and in furtherance of its functions, Institutes of the Commission and to exercise control over the boards of management of the Institute.
To encourage and promote the commercialisation of research and development results through its Institutes.
To supervise the carrying out of all requirements designed to secure the safety and health of radiation workers and the environment. To engage in research and development activities, as well as in the publication and dissemination of research findings and other useful technical information.
To oversee and facilitate the development of human resources in the fields of nuclear science and technology, and to promote the training of scientific, technical and non-scientific personnel of the Commission. To maintain relations with the International Atomic Energy Agency and other similar international and national organisations on matters of research and development of nuclear energy and nuclear technology.
To collaborate with Universities and Research Institutes for the purpose of conducting research into matters connected with the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and technology

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