You are here: HomeNews2008 02 26Article 139884

General News of Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Source: GNA

Plan to phase out carrying of human excreta -SC

Accra, Feb. 26, GNA - The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) three months to come out with a comprehensive plan that will serve as a guide in its desire to phase out the practice,

whereby, human excreta is carried by some people in society.

The court's order followed an agreement reached between Mr Stanley Amarteifio, counsel for AMA and Nana Adjei Ampofo, an Accra legal practitioner, who instituted an action against the Assembly for engaging the services of certain persons as carriers of human waste.

The five-member panel of the court, presided over by Ms Justice Sophia Akuffo ordered AMA to ensure that the Implementation Plan, whose preparation should include unit committee members, is publicized. Consequently, the Court, whose other panel members were Mr. Justice Steve Brobbey, Mr. Justice Richard Twum Aninakwa, Mrs. Sophia Adinyira and Mr Justice Samuel Kwadwo Asiamah, adjourned the matter to June 3. Earlier, Mr. Amarteifio told the court that under the agreement, AMA intends to phase out the practice completely, within the next five years.

In 2006, Nana Ampofo instituted the action at the Supreme Court against AMA challenging its constitutional right to engage the services of certain people to carry human excreta.

Nana Ampofo sued the Attorney-General (A-G) jointly with the AMA, because the A-G is the government's legal officer and therefore as a government entity, the AMA is to be represented or defended by the A-G. In his writ, Nana Ampofo sought a declaration from the Supreme Court that, the act or practice of AMA engaging the services of certain Ghanaians to carry faeces or toilet in pans on their heads was an affront to their dignity.

Furthermore, he prayed the court to restrain AMA to abolish the practice, since, in his view, it was not only cruel and inhuman, but also degrading to the carriers as human beings.

One other relief sought by Nana Ampofo was for the court to direct AMA to abolish the practice, since it was inconsistent with, and contravened Article 15 of the 1992 Constitution.

Article 15 states among others that, "the dignity of all persons shall be inviolable, and that no person shall, whether or not he is arrested restricted or detained, be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatments or punishment."

In his writ, counsel averred that as a citizen of Ghana who alleges that a provision of the Constitution has been breached by the AMA, he does not need any special interest, and that it was enough for him as a Ghanaian, to bring the action against AMA under the Constitution Counsel averred further that, the public interest considerations required that the practice be immediately abolished, as it constituted, not only a health hazard to the carriers, but also promoted the spread of diseases.

Nana Ampofo said if AMA made bye-laws banning the practice and ensured compliance, house owners would provide more hygienic places of convenience, adding that the Assembly could also provide on site disposal systems or hygienic collection, treatment and off-site disposal systems.

He further said that the use of pan latrines ought to be abolished or banned in Ghana, a nation aspiring to achieve a middle income status by the year 2015.

Nana Ampofo said the carriers often referred to as "latrine boys", "do not work out of choice", and that by carrying the pans on their heads, the human excreta, with its attendant stench, at times spilled over and drilled on to their shoulders. In his view, therefore, this practice needed to be abolished.

Join our Newsletter