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Feature Article of Thursday, 17 February 2011

Columnist: Tawiah, Francis

"A Better Ghana Agenda", Sitting On A Time Bomb.

"All Die Be Die?"

Europe's electronic waste is often shipped illegally to Africa. Ghana making it's own Sub-economy from the Toxic electronic waste. Many live on the remains of the digital waste shipped to Ghana.

The Agbogbloshie dump in Accra, Ghana, is the largest electrical Square in WEST AFRICA, where more than 3,000 people live in slums. They live on the legacy of the digital world. With the dismantling and recycling of computer waste, they earn their living.

About 8.7 million tons of electronic waste are generated annually in Europe. A large part is shipped to Africa. Landfills of electronic waste are considered expensive and environmentally harmful legacy but they are worth gold because the future of raw materials is in the garbage.

The Ghana made sub economy from electronic garbage and other garbage dumping place in Accra which the locals call it "Sodom and Gomorrah. The dark clouds and noise coming from the dump which can be seen from afar within the Accra city. With the Western understanding of recycling, is quite a different thing in Accra which has not much to do with recycling but rather polluting and spreading of cancer. Computers, TVs and refrigerators are apart the of slum dwellers. They remove parts and throw them into open fire to win metals such as copper and aluminium.

Across the square, leads a trail through the trash. School children, slum dwellers, but also well-dressed people take on the way to work a short cut through the dump. The cancer polluted air is burning in the lungs of both the people around and their domesticated animals. In the midst of automotive scrap and waste are also cow and goat barns.

There is a river near the place which is very black from the polluted environment, bubbles formed on the surface of the river are mainly, computer monitors, refrigerators and car parts.

While the Europeans and the other developed countries have banned export of electronic waste, Ghana seems to have insufficient capacity for recycling. Nevertheless, the waste flows from developed countries, often declared as (a camouflage) allowed second-hand goods. 60% of such containers arrive in Ghana, with defect units of dangerous time bomb toxic waste.

Toxins such as lead, cadmium and mercury are burnt in Ghana, with concentrations that exceed the normal values up to 100 times.

Child labour too is often employed at those places and no one complains about children who ought to be in the school helping the grown up people to produce toxic to spread diseases and at the same time be sitting on a time bomb. They endanger their own health and the environment. Even though most of them are aware of the danger in which they are putting themselves, they have no other option, It remains their only source of income.

There is a clear hierarchy, the youngest must take the most dangerous jobs. They collect on copper residues of toxic soil and break down old monitors, with stones or bare hands. Young people are destroying the computer and pull out the cables and thrown them into the fire, while the elderly would sort out the gained materials like cooper, aluminium etc. to sell. For a kilo of copper they get less than $3 U.S. dollars.

If our politicians do not see it as "ALL DIE BE DIE", then what is our "Better Ghana Agenda" doing about such time bombs in the country on which some people are sitting? School children undergoing child-labour, helping grown ups to produce and spread toxic. Endangering their own health as well as their environs. "Fire in Sodom and Gomorrah" Agbogbloshie in Accra.

FRANCIS TAWIAH (Duisburg - Germany)

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