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Opinions of Thursday, 15 October 2015

Columnist: Samuel Koomson

Accra floods and the National Sanitation Day

Opinion Opinion

The National Sanitation Day instituted by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development has come to stay since it was introduced.

It is undoubtedly a very good initiative put together by the ministry. The idea behind it is fantastic, that is, once every month we can spend some time to clean our environments. My question is simple has the national sanitation day made any impact since its commencement. If yes, that is great news. If no, it is not shocking.

So far as I am concerned it is not a physical national sanitation day we need, rather it is a mental national sanitation day we need, where instead of communities coming out to clean only to start littering right afterwards, we should rather meet and review why our communities had so much filth in the previous month and the way forward to reducing it.

My reason is simple, it does not make sense in any way or form to spend 30 days (720 hours) littering, only to spend 4 hours to clear the same environment. It doesn't work on any planet and this will not make sense even in the magician's world.

We need to tackle the minds of people greatly rather than the physical emphasis. People throw refuse into gutters and when the same refuse comes to their homes they call on government.

I work very close to the Nima gutter, one of the biggest gutters in the city. If you see the magnitude of refuse that come into the gutter, you wonder what kind of people we are. That same gutter is the public toilet for many inhabitants around Nima, Mamobi, Asylum down, and it's surrounding suburbs.

When the rain came down recently, just after about 45mins the gutter was full and the streets were choked. The surface was full of plastic waste and other materials.

At some point, I got a bit scared so I called a friend who is a media personnel and drew his attention to the situation in order to get NADMO in the known just in case of any emergency.

He insisted that there are so many companies around that gutter thus we should be able to clear that gutter and not call on government for everything. I did not agree with him because the issue is not just about clearing the gutter.

Just like I already mentioned we cannot do much if the inhabitants around do not stop using the water way as a refuse dump. Moreover, many of the people who work around live very far away from the said location so how do you monitor that garbage does not go back into it when you have left.

We need to as a matter urgency put in place measures to control the mental attitudes of filth creation before we can decide to use 4 hours of our time to clean the mess created by the few unscrupulous citizens who will not see anything wrong picking garbage from a bin and dropping on the floor.

There is a popular story in my house about how my sister was made to pick up something she threw out of a moving car into the bush on the Akwatia highway. She probably might have not found the same item she threw, but the lesson is that you never litter around. It is common to find water sachet and other plastic materials in my bag because growing up I was taught not to drop anything on the floor.

The national sanitation day is practically an appeal because it is not yet backed by law as far as I know. So you can achieve very little with appeals in our part of the world. The sanitation day once again does not make sense to me because there is a sanitation law which allows the state to prosecute offenders. If even the force did not achieve results what will the appeal achieve (food for thought).

In as much as I commend the minister for that initiative, I think that there are more serious issues we need to tackle in order to enhance good sanitation.

I wonder how God is suffering trying to answer the prayers of Ghanaians, because just last week there were news reports of how we may have food crisis because of poor rains and when the rains come down we cry of flood;'ENTI ONYAKOPON ONYE YEN DEN'?

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Samuel Koomson