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Opinions of Friday, 15 December 2017


Sunyani Assembly must address environmental challenges

The Brong Ahafo regional capital, Sunyani, has over the years earned an enviable accolade as the cleanest city in the country with residents and officials always stressing this point when people visit the town for various activities or programmes.

Indeed, first-time visitors to this metropolis will attest to this fact because of the proper layout of the town and how clean the gutters are, among others.

Unlike other cities and towns in the country, the Sunyani town has been properly planned, with its houses properly lined up.

One could walk through the lanes in-between the houses from one point to the end without passing by a house constructed inappropriately.

It is this positive picture that has encouraged many governmental and non-governmental organisations to choose Sunyani as a venue for their national conferences over the years.

Current trend

However, as the town developed into a city, it is gradually beginning to lose its enviable accolade and beauty as more people and organisations move in to benefit from the booming economy.

It was a fact that Techiman had always been the economic capital of the region over the years, while Sunyani enjoyed its status as the administrative capital.

But gradually, a number of companies, especially those in the wholesale and retail trade ventures, opened their branches in the town, increasing the number of residents in the town.

Even though this seems to be good news, since it would go a long way to boost the incomes of residents, the town is gradually losing some of its features that earned it the accolade of being the cleanest city in the country.

Waste management and traffic

A recent description of the state of sanitation in the metropolis by the Sunyani Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), Dr (Mrs) Evelyn Ama Kumi-Richardson, showed how the hitherto clean environment of the community had degenerated.

“From a distance, the general sanitation in the municipality looks good, but getting closer to the reality exposes the inadequacy in sanitation and waste management.

“We cannot run away from the effects of the increasing urbanisation and the lack of effective refuse collection from premises which lead to the use of drains as refuse disposal receptacles,” she noted in her maiden address to the assembly.

Dr Kumi-Richardson observed that sanitation had become one of the essential services that “needed urgent attention within the municipality to avert the outbreak of an epidemic”, and called for a collective responsibility to solve the problem.

Indeed, the MCE hit the nail right on the head as a walk through the central business area of the town, as well as both the Old Market and the Bosoma Market confirmed her description.

The Sunyani Municipal Assembly, according to her, does not have the full capacity to manage all waste generated in the municipality, adding that: “Addressing the poor behaviour and attitude towards sanitation and waste management is critical to achieving any meaningful progress.”

As a result of the use of some gutters in the town for the disposal of both solid and liquid waste by some residents, the stench that greets visitors is enough to compel them to change their positive image about Sunyani as the cleanest city in the country.

Trading on the streets

Soon after assuming office, Dr Kumi-Richardson launched an operation to clear traders who had taken over half of the road behind the Old Market in the heart of the town.

In fact, the exercise was so successful to the extent that residents commended the MCE for taking such a bold decision to clear the traders off the street to provide parking space and thoroughfare for people who visited the market with their cars.

It was the expectation of the people that the assembly would complete the exercise by clearing traders who had taken over the shoulders of principal streets to enable people to move freely within the central business area.

“We are very disappointed that the exercise has become a ‘nine-day wonder,” a resident told the Daily Graphic after witnessing the fact that the traders who were taken off the streets had returned to take over more than what they used to occupy.

Increasing traffic

Nobody would have thought five years ago that Sunyani would experience traffic, but the situation is now becoming a headache for commuters, especially those who visit the central business area.

It is a nightmare for cars to move from the Municipal Hospital Traffic Light, the Cocoa House Roundabout and the Twene Amanfo Senior High/Technical School, to the main taxi rank, especially during rush hours in the morning and late in the evening.

One would have thought that with the provision of both outer and inner ring road for Sunyani, drivers who have nothing to do in town will use the ring road to reach their destinations, but it is disheartening that trucks loaded with timber logs are sometimes seen creating traffic right in the centre of the town.

It is the expectation of residents that works on the construction of the outer ring road will be completed as soon as possible to prevent cars and trucks heading towards Berekum, Techiman and Atronie from the Abesim direction and vice versa from passing through the town and creating unnecessary traffic situation.

The Sunyani Municipal Assembly should also wake up from its slumber and provide the necessary leadership, equipment and logistics to solve the mounting environmental challenges bedeviling the regional capital.

It is only through such measures that Sunyani can regain its enviable accolade as the cleanest city in the country.