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Opinions of Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Columnist: Amponsa-Dadzie, Kofi Freeman

June 4 Disaster Badly Exposed Woeful Rawlings/Mahama’s P/NDC Regimes

The Flood and Fire Disaster of June 4th 2015 exposed the crass incompetency and bad governance of all the PNDC regimes since its inception in 1982 to date! It revealed the hidden fact that the present NDC government and its parent administration remain the source of all our problems as a country. The extent of rot and its devastating consequences on human lives was there for all to see. President Mahama was so ashamed viewing the huge amount of refuse and faeces in the gutters of Accra, and there were similar reports of similar disasters from other parts of the country. No one can cheat nature and for once we all saw the emptiness of political rhetoric and it’s meaningless to real lives of ordinary people. Ghana has become a sorrowful sight and ignored in International media due to its shocking state of underdevelopment as the first country that got Self-Rule in Africa in 1951. We are so backward, undeveloped and deceive ourselves of our so-called Middle Income status. We are rather one of the poorest in the world with its government unable to clean its environment.
The major grounds of political agitation in Ghana currently was the recurring Electricity Cuts that has had heavy negative impact on business and industrial development, affected ordinary lives and brought so much gloom and despair to such a fine country. Defined by a word ‘DUMSOR’, we have all seen political groupings, civil organisations, Churches and Celebrity circus come out to demonstrate their ill feeling. Our political leaders claimed we only need rainfall to fill up the Akosombo and Bui Dams to get lights but God Almighty knew we were not ready for the rains, and this was proven when the rains began to fall incessantly at the beginning of June. Rain water always have to go through drains and gullies but these were all choked up or non-existent in our country. Ghana has no system of waste disposal since Rawlings administration destroyed what was available due to their inability to sustain its management. The PNDC Revolution always destroyed whatever it could not control, manage or fund. It was a dictatorship and a talking shop and once they come to a ditch they take it away as was done to the system of Cleaning and Sanitation in our Local Councils.
The system of waste disposal, cleaning and sanitation of our towns and cities and villages was well planned, systematically funded by local levies and government subvention, and time honoured and well established throughout the British Colonial administration, Nkrumah’s CPP, Afrifa/Kotoka’s NLC and Busia’s Progress Party Governments from 1950s to 1970s. Col Acheampong’s Administration managed this system but as corruption took over the military regime in the late 1970s we all saw our rubbish or Refuse piling up in mountainous proportion across the country. People always make litter and refuse as part of their living and prior to these military regimes the system simply organised thus:
We threw our refuse into Refuse Dumps located in every zonal locality throughout the country. Household waste and refuse were placed in these small cubicles built near ancient public toilets and baths. It was our morning chores after sweeping our homes and compounds. The sanitary workers of the various Municipal Councils would sweep the streets and gutters and also throw these in the refuse Dumps. The Refuse were collected by the local Council Sanitary Workers in precise fashion and uploaded into Council trucks and carted away into landfill sites well demarcated across the country. They were often used to fill garters and eroded landscapes or were carefully disposed away from human habitation. Old Films of Ghana reveal the clean environment we used to live in. BUT Acheampong’s corrupt government could no more provide the trucks to remove the refuse. The Local Councils became corrupt and the levies collected shared among their top personnel. It was a period of “Kalabule” and were some of the reasons of incessant protests and demonstrations by civil organisations worried by the deteriorating decline of our Cleaning & Sanitation. Refuse piled up as sanitary workers were laid off because they could not get implements and Trucks to do their work, but people continued to throw their refuse in these dumps. Everywhere you turn refuse was piling up and occupied the streets with stench filling the air. Many people died from all the bacterial infection spread in the environment by these unhygienic conditions.
It was this appalling situation that Rawlings revolution came to inherit, after PNP administration inability to deal with it in its short reign in government. Instead of revamping the sanitary department and employing people to remove the refuse, J J and his followers resorted to what they know best – using so-called Taskforce and Voluntary organisation to do this important work but it failed. The refuse continued to pile up in these Refuse Dumps. Then they did the most unthinkable savage act in the history of Waste Disposal and Sanitation. JJ Rawlings PNDC Government demolished all the Refuse Dumps we used to throw in our Refuse. It was their solution to eradicate the piles of refuse in these Refuse dumps. How? Where were people going to throw their Refuse as we always create litter and refuse as part of our living? Undoubtedly local and central governments of the world always have these headache of disposing the waste made by its people. In most countries they have Bins removed by e paid employees as we used to have in Ghana before Acheampong and notably Rawlings came to power. I saw every one of these cement outposts destroyed by the orders of the harsh PNDC Revolutionary government. By 1990 there were nowhere to throw away household refuse. People dug holes to throw in their refuse/rubbish or simply burnt them. The air was filled with putrefaction and pungent scented smoke. It was so uncomfortable but no one could say anything due to the retributive harsh regime of this Rawlings man and his henchmen. In the coastal areas people threw their refuse in lagoons and the sea, which brought them back to the shores. Villagers buried their refuse. Others threw them away in nearby bush. Ghana became so dirty and smelly of foul stench unknown in our history. The people threw their refuse in gutters and gullies at dawn and in the cover of darkness.
The remaining Gutters were choked with Refuse and faeces. Lack of decent public convenient places meant people had to find ways and means to dispose of their rubbish and human excreta. The beaches were shamefully desecrated even when Rawlings threatened offenders, whiles sewage from homes of rich homes were openly emptied into the Sea. The countryside or village bush was fully decimated, with public toilets overflowing its 'banks'. Our Markets and public places did not have good toilets as giant flies carried bacteria into eating places spreading serious bacterial and viral infection that easily caused deaths of many vulnerable people whose low immunities could not resist these germs.
The progressive Kufuor Administration inherited this problem and helped set up the Zoomlion Company to deal with the problem of waste disposal and helped cleaned the towns and cities. They did well and created employment. It however came under political pressure as these same NDC politicians cast aspersions against the Company and threatened to close it down if they won power, which they did. Zoomlion divested itself into other productive ventures and its primary work was relegated to the background as its employment drive dwindled
The little money meant for Cleaning and Sanitation was embezzled by powerful thieving politicians. In fact, President Dramani Mahama and his many Northerner Ministers and Top Appointees shocked me a lot. Their fathers unashamedly worked in the Sanitary Departments across the country to educate them up to their present glory and should have placed a premium on cleanliness and good sanitation by employing so many unemployed people in the Sanitation and Public Health Departments. He rather supervised monies meant for this good purpose to be shared among NDC greedy apparatchiks whiles organising the same National Sanitation exercises lazy Rawlings government used to do. It was the same old style of cheating nature and doomed to fail when no one turned up - for people are not fooled forever - 'monkey no dey work, for baboon to chop always, oga'!

Another major that contribute to flooding in Ghana is lack of drainage systems around new building sites. The truth is houses upon houses have been built all over Ghana with no drainage systems. Large areas of land with thousands of new homes are standing on water-filled-soil. The owners refuse to contribute to build proper drainage systems like those inherited from the British Colonial Administration. They rather create illegal 'SUCK-AWAYS', which are huge cesspit holes constructed behind the new houses with truckloads of stone chips thrown into them. They would then connect all their drain pipes and sewage into these manholes. All the water from their baths and kitchen are drained into them and covered or plastered away - finito. I have seen it done like magic with great incredulity and disbelief! I even asked - is that all? Yes, was the response! The waste water in the soil appears dry because of the scorching sun but the water really remains in the soil waiting for more water or rainfall to break the soil to come out in a flood. This is a nationwide practice. Cheating nature...One contractor told me he is shocked so many educated engineers and architects know the dangers of this widespread illegal and immoral practice but ignored. Can't we contribute per household to build gutters if government has no means to do so? If people could build houses then why then they should be able to contribute to the construction of gutters and viable drainage systems to dispose their waste water as well as disposal of their refuse than the primitive ways of throwing about refuse everywhere they choose.
Meanwhile Accra became a massive dumping ground as rural-urban migration increased in manifold. Rawlings did not add to our drainage system in the 19 years he ruled Ghana. I did not see a single new gutter built by his government in my town. It was shocking. Mahama’s NDC government claims the Loan they contracted to build drainage in Accra were actually not obtained but it’s not only Accra that experienced the problem of poor drainage and poor sanitation and waste disposal. Takoaradi’s gutters are all full of faeces and refuse just as Kumasi, Sekondi, Tamale, Cape Coast and everywhere else in Ghana.
The incessant rainfall had broken the soil and sewage water came out from everywhere. There was far more water coming from underground than the rain fall. The river beds were not desilted, and the rain water could not drain away in gutters filled with plastic bags full of faeces and refuse and therefore gushed through the open streets including the petrol station that caused the fire outbreak which led to loss of lives and properties in such disgraceful ways that the world media refused to even publish. When I saw President Mahama standing by a gutter full of refuse, I noticed his total shame. The June 4th Disaster did one positive thing: It knocked of the celebration of Rawlings vanity. It was God’s answer to his incompetent handling of common waste disposal in Ghana. It was too shameful. He wanted bull dozers to destroy more like he did to the Refuse dumps he demolished and never replaced with any system of waste disposal! You can run but cannot hide. We always hide the underbelly of our woeful failure of managing the basics in our lives. It is time we become sober and plan ahead to help ourselves. Politics is for development and not noise making.

Kofi Freeman Amponsa-Dadzie