The Ghana Highway Authority, in collaboration with Right to Information Commission (RTIC) and the Access to Information Division (ATID) of Information Services Department (ISD), on Wednesday, the 27th of September 2023, organized a sensitization programme for Directors and Managers of the Authority on the Right to Information Act, 2019 Act (989).
The programme, which focused primarily on the overview of the RTI Act and the core mandate of the RTI Commission, also accorded participants the opportunity to interact with the Commission, share their concerns and as well get clarity on some aspect of the Act.
The Head of the Public Affairs Division, Mr. Cecil Nii Obodai Wentum, who also oversees the activities of the RTI Unit, in his remarks before the presentations, outlined the strides chalked with regards to RTI implementation at the Authority. This included the publishing of the RTI manual to help applicants easily identify the classes of information available, RTI tracts to aid with sensitization among staff and other stakeholders and the number of requests granted so far.
Mr. Cecil Nii Obodai Wentum, Ag. Director – Public Affairs Div.
He also thanked the RTI Officers posted to his division for expeditiously facilitating all RTI applications and their enormous contribution to the division and Authority in general.
The Deputy Chief Executive, Ing. Frederick Aduadjei, the chair for the programme, in his opening remarks acknowledged the successes made by the Authority after the implementation of the RTI Act and urged participants to actively participate in the training to make it more interactive and engaging.
Ing. Frederick Aduadjei, Dy. Chief Executive (Admin)
Mr. Senanu Nyadroh, the Principal officer of ATID started with the presentation on the overview of the RTI Act and the role of Ghana Highway Authority with regards to the implementation of the Act. Noting the need for proactive disclosure of fundamental information, the Principal Officer also applauded the Authority for uploading their reports, GHA Information Manual and other necessary materials on their website as well as having a dedicated page for RTI activities.
Mr. Senanu Nyadroh, Principal Officer, ATID
Mr. George F. Basoah, also a representative from ATID, in his submission touched on the application processes and the need to be vigilant when processing access to information requests. He again reiterated his outfit’s readiness to assist the Authority when faced with any challenges with regards to processing requests and encouraged the Authority to keep up with the gains.
Mr. George F. Basoah, Principal Officer, ATID
The Senior Manager in charge of Compliance at the RTI Commission, Mr. Vincent Appau Bediako outlined the mandate of the regulatory body. He explained that the core mandate of the Commission was to promote, protect, monitor, and enforce the RTI Act. Highlighting their functions which include issuing written orders to Public Institutions requesting them to produce information, holding hearings and taking action that is necessary to enable the Commission resolve complaints before it and as well publishing its findings, recommendations, orders, decisions, and directives that are necessary for effective performance; Mr. Bediako also indicated that the Commission holds the power to sanction institutions that do not comply with the provisions and obligations authorized by the Act and directives of the Commission. “Failure or non-compliance with the provisions and obligations of the Act constitutes gross misconduct and attracts imposition of an administrative penalty”, he noted.
Mr. Bediako, Compliance Dept., RTI Commission
Mr. Amos Anokye Kusi, a Lawyer, with the Legal Department of RTIC, spoke on the exemptions of the Act. Some of them included: information for the President or Vice, information affecting security of the state, law enforcement and public safety, among others as stated in the law. Concluding his presentation, Mr. Kusi, however, noted that the expiration of all exempt information was after 30 years, thus on the expiry of the period, information is no longer considered exempt.
Mr. Amos Anokye Kusi Esq., Legal Dept. RTI Commission
Ing. Aduadjei, in his concluding remarks thanked the representatives of the RTI Commission and ATI Division for their insightful presentations and entreated participants to be ambassadors of RTI law in their various divisions and departments.
Participants, after the presentations, appreciated the RTI Act better as their questions and reservations were clearly addressed.