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Opinions of Monday, 14 June 2010

Columnist: Anaman, Kofi

Come on!! We can do better for Pantang!

Have our societal values sunk so low? Are we by our actions and inactions making co-habitation with waste a feature of the mentally-derailed who are one of our own? Ghana is gradually being reduced to an insensitive society which has smokes-screened itself in untold religious fanaticism.

My eyes were filled with tears and my heart with abject sadness when travelled on the Abokobi-Pantang road in Accra a few days ago. With a characteristic pungent smell, my nose was met with the malarious stench from that monstrous damping site situated adjacent to the Ghana’s premiere Psychiatric hospital, Pantang. Passing close by the site, my eyes could not but remain closed till the vehicle sped off to an appreciable distance. Even at a safe distance, the atmosphere was still saturated with gross carry-over air pollutants from the damp site (‘or the supposed landfill site’). I couldn’t imagine the plight of those who live within that radius; the visual nuisance, the flies, the vultures, the nauseating stench, not to talk of the environmental and health challenges that come with living close to an imminent epidemic such as this one. You need to see the massive land wastage and the risky tipping activities that prevail on site. Environmental economists will appreciate better the nose-dive in property value in such a locality. As a nation, are we really serious in aiding our mentally defective friends and relatives cross the line to join us on the sane side? I bet we are just adding to the numbers in the psychiatric hospital with these appalling activities. Surprisingly, waste collection (not management) companies which claim to be sanitising our environment do nothing than just transport the hazards from community to the other. In the end, No good is done. I still find it difficult to understand why a country like Ghana with so many environmental experts (though some are self-made) is still struggling to rein in our mounting environmental challenges. Yes! The concept of landfills are still been patronised in some parts of the world but can’t we aim at an extra-mile technique? The consequence of an un-engineered landfill site is so enormous to be discounted. Experts will concede that emerging technologies are not far from reach only if we are determined to safeguard our natural environment. Landfill gas management and leachate treatment activities need be factored into the design of our landfill sites. These operations could pave way for harnessing power generation options coupled with reducing the contamination of ground water. Proper tipping procedures should also be enforced on the site to promote land conservation. If these technologies are meaningfully harnessed, Ghana can be considered as being on the path of achieving environmental sustainability which encapsulates reducing the pollution of the atmosphere with harmful gases which fuels global warming and enhancing a sound-material cycle society. Let’s not destroy our environment with bad waste management practices! Let well-meaning Ghanaians, expert and authorities act now!

Credit: Kofi Anaman-Member, Leeds University Alumni Association Ghana (LUAAGH) judanaman@yahoo.co.uk