The Department of Parks and Gardens, the state agency responsible for the development of the country’s horticultural potential, is facing a human resource crisis, as over 90 per cent of its staff are due for retirement within the next five years.
The retirement of the 369 staff has called for the urgent need for the department to fill the many vacancies across the country.
The department, established in 1961, had more than 2,000 workers, made up of technical officers, gardeners and labourers, but it has lost all of them to retirement over the years without any form of replacement.
The department has experienced low investment, less patronage and total neglect despite its mandate to develop and promote effective landscape beautification in the cities and towns of the country.
It is now an agency under the Ministry of Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development (MLGDRD).
Some workers of the department expressed their concern to the Daily Graphic that the workforce of the agency was depleting at a very fast pace, without much effort to replenish it.
“This has made some of our regional offices redundant because in most of the major towns we do not have Parks and Gardens workers.
In a matter of five years, Parks and Gardens risks becoming extinct because majority of the remaining staff are aged and nearing retirement,” one of the senior staff members stated.
“Western Region has only 21 workers, Northern Region 16 workers and Upper West Region eight workers,” another senior member of staff told the Daily Graphic.
The workers said the neglect and low patronage of the services the department offered might lead to the collapse of the 62-year-old institution.
The source maintained that due to the low staff strength, a single worker now handled duties otherwise meant for more than 20 people.
The workers also said they feared the phenomenon was likely to negatively impact the efforts of the department to champion the President’s initiative to make the country the cleanest in Africa.
When contacted, the Chief Horticultural Officer of the DPG, Dr Daniel Kingsford Adams, confirmed to the Daily Graphic in Accra that the staff strength of the department was reducing.
He, however, said the supervising ministry was engaging the Ministry of Finance to give the green light in order to recruit more workers for the department.
“Since I took over last year, the ministry, through the effort of the sector Minister, Dan Botwe, provided us with new vehicles, including two big trucks, a Landcruiser Prado, a tractor, two pickups and working machines.
Other than that, the department had no vehicles.
“We have also been provided with about 10 workers but we need a staff strength of about 2,000 to make the department vibrant once again,” he said.
The department later came under different ministries between 1970 and 2000, namely Works and Housing, Local Government and Rural Development, and Environment and Science.
The department draws its mandate from the 1992 Constitution and Section 12 of the PNDCL 327, which provides the responsibilities.
The mandate of the department was found to be adequate and relevant, which is to improve the rapid development of horticultural potential of the urban and rural sectors of the country.
Dr Adams noted that the role of the department was to maintain the horticultural plants in the median and shoulders of all roads in the country.
“We are also mandated to create open spaces for recreational centres, and so some of our projects included Efua Sutherland Park, Afrikiko in Accra.
“The department also does research into medicinal plants, many of which we have in the Aburi Botanical Gardens.
We also do landscaping for public and private houses, maintain prestige facilities such as the Jubilee House, Peduase Lodge and other government facilities,” he added.