Prank callers to the emergency number set up to facilitate assistance to persons in need will be blocked by Friday, March 27, 2020.
The Ministry of Communications in a statement said the move is aimed at improving Ghana’s emergency response rate in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“As the country intensifies its effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to improve Ghana’s emergency response rate, the emergency number 112 has been set up to facilitate assistance to all in need. Access to this line is, however, being hampered by the incessant prank calling of some unscrupulous callers.”
“Currently, prank calls to the emergency number cover more than 95% of the call traffic. From 27th March, 2020, all prank callers will be blocked to get Ghana’s emergency system to work effectively. It is the most practical way of ensuring that those in need of help, get it,” portions of the statement said.
Between 28th January 2020 to 16th March, 2020, the 112 emergency call centre recorded a total of 1,887,125 prank calls with only 15,801 being real emergency-related calls, according to the statement.
Prank calls in A/R
Health authorities in the Ashanti Region earlier said they were collaborating with the security agencies to track and arrest persons who engage in prank calls.
The Regional Health Directorate said some members of the general public make prank calls with the emergency lines put out to receive information on suspected Coronavirus cases.
Ashanti Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Emmanuel Tenkorang speaking at a news conference in Kumasi said members of the public engaging in such acts will be dealt with by the security agencies.
“We are pleading. This is so serious. If we get anybody doing that we have to report the person to the security agencies for them to be dealt with. This is not the time to joke at all. If you know there is no COVID-19 case and you call us, we will hand you over to the security agencies.”
Ambulance service battling with prank calls
The emergency Technicians at the National Ambulance Service Dispatch Centre expressed similar concerns months ago.
It indicated that some individuals were interrupting their work with prank calls.
Matilda Nartey, Head of Dispatch at the centre, in an interview with Citi News, revealed that her outfit records as high as over 200 prank calls in an hour, a situation she described as worrying.
“Prank calls are giving us a very big problem. It is making our work very difficult. Prank callers are just engaging the line to prevent genuine cases from getting to us. Ever since the 112 was launched, within an hour we receive more than 200 prank calls,” she lamented.
She, however, disclosed that measures are being put in place, in collaboration with the Police so that they could name and shame those who engage in such acts as well as prosecuting them.
‘Some call just to insult and some even call to demand money. We’ve been writing all the numbers that have been calling for us to give it to the telcos and also to report to the police. If it will be possible, the individuals behind that could be prosecuted,” she added.