EPA requests GH2,500 from The Fourth Estate through an RTI.

Kutl Ahmedia

The Fourth Estate has been asked to pay GH2,500 to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in order to provide information that has been requested under the Right to Information (RTI) law.

The news website had asked the EPA for documentation regarding the authorization given to US-based ATC Ghana to hoist a cellular mast.

Residents of Taifa Burkina in Accra have expressed worry over the mast, saying it makes them feel unsafe.

However, the EPA insists that The Fourth Estate present cash before it can demonstrate that it is carrying out its mandate. The EPA stated in a letter that was signed by Dr. Christine Okae Asare, the Deputy Executive Director/General Services, on behalf of the Executive Director:

We would like to advise you that before collecting the search response, you must pay a search charge of GHC 2,500.00 by banker's draft made payable to the Environmental Protection Agency in accordance with the Fees and Charges (Amendment) Instrument, 2019 (LI2386).

The request for funds prompts worries that certain public organizations are commercializing the RTI statute, which is intended to increase democratic accountability and citizen participation.

After unsuccessful attempts by organizations like the National Communications Authority (NCA) and the Minerals Commission to commercialize the RTI law, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the first public entity to do so.

The Minerals Commission demanded $1,000 from The Fourth Estate in June 2021 before disclosing details about businesses that were granted mining licenses in Ghana between January 2013 and May 2021, as well as businesses whose licenses were suspended or cancelled during that time.

The Minerals Commission refused to comply with a GHC2.00 RTI Commission order to give the information to The Fourth Estate and appealed the ruling at the High Court.

The Mineral Commission's lawsuit was rejected by the Accra High Court, which was presided over by Justice Gifty Agyei Addo.

The Minerals Commission appealed the decision to the Court of Appeal.

Similar to this, the NCA requested payment from the MFWA of GH 2000 in July 2020 in exchange for information regarding the closing of several radio stations nationwide.

RTI Commission Petition

The Right to Information Commission has been asked by the Fourth Estate to consider the EPA's request for GHC 2,500 before granting the RTI request.

The petition complies with RTI law Sections 65(1) and 67(1)(c). A person who is unhappy with a decision made by a public institution or a relevant private organisation may apply to the Commission for a review of the decision, according to section 65(1).

(1) Despite section 66, a person may apply to the Commission without using all of the internal review options available to them under this Act where:

(c) The institution's or body's information officer reports to the head of the relevant public or private organization.

The Fourth Estate is currently anticipating the RTI Commission's decision about the EPA's request.


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