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Opinions of Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Columnist: Dominic Moses Awiah

Accra markets choked with filth

The most affected places are the Agbogbloshie, Kaneshie and Mallam markets The most affected places are the Agbogbloshie, Kaneshie and Mallam markets

By Dominic Moses Awiah

Accra's popular markets have become engulfed with filth, flies and pungent smell. The Kaneshie, Makola, Agbogbloshie, Mallam Atta and Mallam markets are also inundated with plastic waste, decayed food crops and choked gutters.

The most affected places are the Agbogbloshie, Kaneshie and Mallam markets where traders, have to deal, on regular basis, with the unbearable stench that emanates from the dumpsites close to them.

At the Mallam market, for instance, the dump site is just a stone’s throw from the market,thus making it extremely difficult for traders to ignore the stench that greets them every morning.

Traders at the Mallam market are not the only victims of the stench and flies from the dump site. Residents of Sakaman and surrounding communities also have to contend with the situation daily.

Compounding these problems is the existence of the choked gutters. Virtually all the aforementioned markets have their gutters heavily choked with plastic waste.

Most of the gutters in front of these markets are filled with rubbish, making it extremely difficult for water to flow. The place has, therefore, become a breeding ground for mosquitoes and cockroaches

The worst part of it is that food vendors sell by these gutters, a situation which can easily lay the foundation for cholera outbreak.

At the Agbogbloshie market too, the choked Odaw River has become a breeding ground for mice.

Traders’ agitation

Most of the traders the Daily Graphic spoke to lamented the poor sanitation situation at their various markets.

Madam Cynthia Quam, a 42-year old trader who owns two shops at Mallam and Kaneshie markets said she and five others had been living with the situation for months

“This situation is not new to market women in Accra. I have operated at Mallam and Kaneshie market for some time now and nothing has changed. We are used to the stench and flies from the dump sites,” she said.

Another trader at the Mallam Atta market said although efforts had been made to address the problem permanently, no meaningful result had been achieved.

Buyers’ distractions

Mrs Leticia Tawiah, a regular shopper at the Agbogbloshie market said she had no option than to ignore “the unbearable” situation at the market and buy her foodstuffs.

“I work few meters away from the Agbogbloshie market and constantly buy my weekly foodstuffs from the market women here. Although I do not like the environment, I have no option because the situation is not different from other markets,” she said.

Another shopper at the Mallam market, also known as the CIMA market, Ms Erica Bamfo, said she had visited almost all the markets in the city and not a single one of them had a better environment.

AMA response

Responding to the issue, the Waste Management Director of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), Mr Anthony Mensah, said the collection of waste at the various markets in Accra had been outsourced to waste management companies.

However, he said the inability of the market women to pay the required money needed to clear the waste from their markets had made it extremely difficult for the waste companies to discharge their duties.

“If the market women will gladly pay the toll, it would be a major boost for the waste companies to do their work” Mr Mensah added.

Asked what the AMA intended to do about the problem, he said his outfit was currently discussing the issue with the women and other stakeholders, including the districts assemblies.

ESPA reaction

When contacted, the Executive Secretary of the Environmental Service Providers Association (ESPA), an association of waste management companies, Ms Ama Ofori Antwi, attributed the situation to the backlog of waste generated during the festive season last year.

She said most of the waste management companies in charge of some of the markets in Accra had challenges dealing with the volume of waste that was generated.

Another reason, Ms Antwi mentioned, was the distance to the two landfill sites at Kpone and Nsumia.

“The distance between Accra and the Kpone Landfill site near Tema is a 90-km turnaround time and coupled with the heavy vehicular congestion on that stretch, it can take several hours for drivers to discharge just a truckload of garbage. Same goes for the Nsumia dumping site at Nsawam which is a 75-km turnaround time,” she explained.

Explaining further, Ms Antwi said: “Refuse is generated every second so the slightest hold-up with regard to the sheer distance to the two landfill sites and vehicular congestion could result in such situations.”

She said the waste management companies responsible for the affected areas “have been working round the clock to improve on sanitation at those markets. However, they also require the support of traders in keeping the markets clean”.

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