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Opinions of Friday, 17 November 2017

Columnist: Michael Eli Dokosi

Enhancing sanitation in our cities: Things to do

Ghana spends GH Ghana spends GH

It is beyond doubt that humans in a bid to tame the wild have undertaken deeds which have proved injurious to the environment. While as a matter of necessity; be it for habitation or pursuing commercial interest, the environment will be disturbed, what’s also clear is that if conscious effort is not put in place to remedy the harm done, the environment will cleanse itself to restore its balance. The result is the heavy rains and its attendant flooding, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and drought experienced across the globe.

In Ghana, there is consensus, a disregard for our old ways of life for supposedly modern living has led to piling of solid and overflow of liquid waste in public spaces, air pollution well as sea pollution.

Sanitation; that is the state of being clean and conducive to health has not ranked high in our undertakings on the personal and state level.

In times past; when most of the waste generated in homes was organic, individual households disposed off waste in dug pits which were covered when full for the organic waste to disintegrate into the soil.

While population increased and land became scarce, the state through the metropolitan assemblies were tasked to dispose off people’s waste. A central location in an areas was sited and waste containers placed to take waste from the population with managers ensuring the waste was not allowed to overflow the bins as trucks carted the refuse off in a timely manner.
Open drains were desilted on the weekends by people in their neighbourhoods with solid waste gathered on the side and carted off. It was not all rosy but compared to today, we did a better job as Ghanaians.

Today; because of the influx of polythene usage, it is impossible to bury waste as polythene does not disintegrate in the soil as organic waste does.

The option of disposing off waste in public bins is opportune except in some instances, the waste is left un-collected because trucks fail to come for them breeding houseflies and stench.

The excuse is that landfill sites in the capital are few as many have been sealed off. The few remaining ones attract trucks all over Accra so the queue is long and winding.

Fortunately; some waste collection companies including Osei Ababio Waste Collection Company, Zoomlion Waste Company and Jekora Waste Company have issued bins to households, registered them to pay monthly waste carting fees to dispose off their waste. It is not a perfect system but it has improved the sanitation situation in most parts.

It is time to end the era of open drains, so that new roads to be constructed must have underground drains to for one; help reduce malaria cases in the country as pools of water collected in these drains serve as the perfect habitat for the mosquito to breed. For another; ending the era of open drains helps beautify the city which falls into President Akufo-Addo’s desire to see Accra emerge as the cleanest city in Africa.

But till such an era, open drains need to be desilted and here; the Mahama administration deserves praise for reintroducing the monthly mass cleaning exercise of homes, markets and other commercial areas.

Although it started out with a verve; attracting notable personalities in the country including ex-president Mahama, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, politicians across the divide as well as film and music stars who all who all cleaned, scrubbed and desilted open drains in addition to carting away refuse; enthusiasm for the monthly exercise soon dwindled with some store owners determined to open their facility to trade despite a ban for all to shut stores, stalls and other trading centres till the clean-up exercise was over.

It is therefore timely that the Government of Ghana together with local and foreign partners including UNICEF teamed up to launch the National Sanitation Campaign, at the State Banquet Hall in Accra on Monday; November 13, 2017.

President Akufo-Addo was the special guest to unveil the campaign which hopefully will help sway citizens to caress, love and care for the environment once again.

Cleanliness they say is next to godliness and as godly people; we have no choice than to be sanitary (free of germs) to activate our positive energy which transcends to general wellbeing.