Feature Article of Saturday, 6 October 2012

Columnist: Twumasi, Patrick

Could WE, Should WE and Would WE,the Cholera Epidemic

Once again there is the outbreak of the cholera epidemic in Ghana. This seems to have commissioned itself as one of the occurrences the country encounters every year such as the flooding.

It is said that, where there is order there is beauty, while discipline brings a lot to a person, society and nation. The disorderly manner in which waste is managed and disposed has been our bane igniting this cholera epidemic annually. Yet mistakes of the dead are not prompting us in any way to change our way of living. Caution has been thrown to the air without recourse to the repercussions.

Despite the negative effects the cholera epidemic has visited on families and the nation, it is amazing how some citizens indiscriminately litter with wanton disregard for bye-laws of the various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs). The poor attitude of disposing filth without rancor knows no limit. Ghana is currently under siege of waste. A tour of the country will reveal that, we are under invasion of dirt.

Ghana is good at enacting laws but hugely lack the biting capacity to enforce them. When laws which are enacted to ensure discipline and order in every human society suffer the deficiency of potency, the resultant vector is a state of lawlessness. Unfortunately, this is what the nation is witnessing. Currently, every available space in the country within a fortnight becomes waste dumping grounds. It is disheartening and embarrassing to read notices such as “Throwing or dumping refuse here is prohibited” at ceremonial locations in the country.

Nonetheless, the elite in society whose responsibility it is to educate the citizenry has majority of them joined the bandwagon. It is astonishing to witness in the full view of the ever scorching sun to see educated citizens drop all manner of sachet and other polybags in to drains. This is irresponsible, but it is done without any sense of remorse. Often, there are no dust bins in sight, while drains are full and remain chocked. The littering spirit of many Ghanaians has gone haywire. The nation is losing human capital and committing huge budgets annually to dealing with this preventable phenomenon.

A tour of the nation will reveal to a critical mind that, Ghana is under siege of filth. In the 21st century, it is unpardonable for, cholera which emanate from filth primarily to become an annual albatross of the nation.

Ghana proud herself as a peaceful and growing democracy in the West African sub-region, but peace cannot thrive in insanitary conditions. The people who espouse the peace are to be healthy. A peaceful mind resides in a healthy body. In the prevailing circumstances in which we live, one should not be deceived into believing that there is peace. This cannot be a fertile recipe to heap blame on government. Rather, it will serve us good should we acknowledge that, we are the problem, and must be wholly, jointly and severally be the solution.

Gone were the days when Sanitary Inspectors go round communities to enforce cleanliness. They were known as “Nsamansaman”. These Sanitary Inspectors really put and indeed placed people on their toes by keeping one’s soundings clean. How did we abandon this rightful course of life? There is every reason and cause for Ghana to make a U-turn and reintroduce, reinforce and empower the institution of the Sanitary Inspectorate to monitor the citizenry on basic hygiene.

In spite of the call by the President to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to come up with a Sanitation Programme, we as citizens should recuse ourselves of this irresponsible behaviour. The national capital is heavily laden with haphazard disposition of both solid and liquid waste which has seen aquatic bodies such as the Odor River severely polluted. The choking and pungent smell from the Odaw River that welcomes commuters who enters the national capital from the Western corridor is unbearable. Moreover, the surface of the aquatic body has been under the canopy of plastic waste. It is a sorry sight and disgraceful. Yet authorities to whom the city is entrusted to stand akimbo while recalcitrant citizens play out their needless and useless combo of littering.

The acclaimed African writer, Professor Wole Soyinka wrote, “The dog that is fated to lose its way in the bush will remain deaf to the hunter’s whistle”. Ghanaians whose hearts are cast in ore continue to carelessly mismanage waste and litter without restrain to the consequence, even though the cholera epidemic is claiming lives.

It is said that, one chooses to die the way one choose to live. The attitude of the Ghanaian depicts the perfect affirmation of this statement. The total neglect of laid down procedures to disposing waste gives accent to the wish to the loss of lives, which are claimed by cholera. He who the gods wish to destroy they first make proud. The lack of attention we as a people are not paying to sanitation can be our destruction. Why should our way of life destroy us?

The Brand Ghana initiative has the possibility of falling flat on the chest irrespective of the investment of time and national resources. There is the need for the Brand Ghana’s ingenuity not to go up in flames with the current poor sanitation attitude. With high rate infections around the world most people are assiduously working to stay safe. Hence, tourists are always on the run searching for destinations which can offer not only sightseeing pleasure in its right measure, but must come with safety and good health. The condition of our beaches is nothing to write about. If the current state is not checked and improved upon Ghana’s branding drive can be likened to fetching water into a basket.

The rate of irresponsibility and laxity in the social fiber is dragging the nation into a state of induced suicide. Laws made to punish wrong are so relaxed to the discomfort of our socio-economic wellbeing. We cannot continue to live this way without any thought of conscious attitudinal transformation.

Let us wake up now before we are over run by circumstances.

*Patrick Twumasi*

*(0209045931) *