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Opinions of Friday, 5 April 2019

Columnist: Gloria Angmorkie Aderko

News commentary on poor sewage system in parts of Tema

One major problem affecting residents and business owners in Tema is poor sewer system in the metropolis.

There have been countless calls on the Tema Metropolitan Assembly, TMA to repair the sewer system without any concrete action.

Tema was once the most beautiful city in West Africa with a well-structured area designed and constructed by the country’s first President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.

The planners of Tema, were well aware of the potential health and sanitation hazards associated with its development and so they built a central sewerage system to manage the industrial and domestic waste without compromising the status of waterways in the metropolis.

Unfortunately the Metroplis is now leaving in its past glory.The problems of the Metropolis continue to increase from poor waste collection, poor sanitation, bad roads and more disgusting is the open exposure of raw faecal matter in homes, streets corners and markets.

It is common on a normal day to see faecal matter flowing from burst sewer lines and man holes in the communities. The sewer lines have deteriorated to the extent that it is now unbearable. Even the backyard of the TMA is unsightly, as raw faecal matter flows from man holes right under their noses.

The Tema Metro sewerage system was constructed in the early sixties for the collection, transport and treatment of human excreta and grey water. The pumping system underwent a major rehabilitation in 1994 under the World bank funded urban 2 project. The rehabilitation process saw two new pumps installed at each pumping stations that significantly increased the pumping capacities of the stations.



A new treatment plant was also constructed at Community 3 to treat domestic sewerage from all the pumping stations. After almost 18 years of these significant improvement, the system has broken down blocking the movement of faecal matter from the various homes to the treatment stations.The shut down of the sewerage treatment plant and its three pumping stations has led to the flow of raw excreta through a bypass into the sea without treatment.

The situation is very alarming and is creating environmental pollution and health hazards. Some resident now complain of respiratory problems as a results of the heavy stench emanating from the broken down sewer system. Apart from residential areas, the central sewerage system is affecting industries as well. Many are losing money because of the poor sewer lines.

One industrial group spending huge sum of money to repair broken sewer lines and lose businesses is the Ghana Progressive Hotels Association, GHAPROHA. Members of GHAPROHA who run restaurants and hotels have become helpless as they are unable to maintain required food safety and hygiene in an environment where raw faecal matter flows uncontrolled into kitchens, restaurants and hotel rooms. Guests who cannot stand the stench no longer patronize such places.

A research conducted by GHAPROHA with support from BUSCA FUND,reveals that the Association loses over three-point-two million Cedis yearly to hire the services of artisans and environmental officers to undertake diverse activities such as routine rodding of choked pipes, desilting choked drains and sealing of leaking pipes and broken man holes all on the sewer lines aimed at mitigating the impact of the problem on their services. The overall effect of the situation on hotels is the decreased patronage, low occupancy rates and low incomes and losses in most cases. The situation is getting worse. Authorities must act now to save the situation. The TMA at a stakeholder meeting with hotel owners in Tema reportedly cited lack of funding as the bane to its plan to rehabilitate the sewer system.Government must as a matter of urgency step in and support theTMA with the needed funding to start the sewer lines rehabilitation project.

Government must not wait for an outbreak of disease in the Tema Metropolis before taking action. A research conducted by Awauh and Nkrumah on the menace found out that the TMA lacks the managerial, technical and financial capacity to manage the sewerage system. It is vital to build the Assembly's capacity to handle the situation efficiently.

Another solution that will address the problem as suggested by Awuah and Nkrumah in their research is for the Assembly to convert the treatment plant to a natural treatment system consisting of two anaerobic ponds, a facultative and three maturation ponds.

It is unfortunate that some residents have refused to pay maintenance fee for the use of the sewer system for the simple reason that they have to deal with raw faecal matter flowing in their communities constantly without any solution in sight. Residents cannot be faulted for this decision.

The TMA must devise innovative and strategic system for the collection of sewer and other revenues to enable it build its financial capacity to undertake the rehabilitation project. We wait patiently to see our homes, streets and markets free from the worrying stench and sight of raw faecal matter flowing uncontrollable.