Regional News of Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Source: Daily Graphic

Tema sewage treatment plant left to rot. Broke down 12 years ago

The Tema Central Sewage system which receives over 20,000 cubic metres of domestic, industrial and commercial waste and water from the Tema Metropolis has since the last 12 years been inoperative as a result of breakdown of the equipment running the system.

As a result liquid waste generated in the metropolis has been diverted and discharged directly into the sea without being treated.

Its impact according to some experts could seriously affect biological productivity and lead to ‘alga’ bloom and also increase pollution and health risks associated with contamination of fish.

The broken-down sewage system has also led to a situation where some households in the metropolis continue to live with the discomfort of burst waste manholes due to inadequate pumping pressure from pumping stations to convey the waste to the sewage treatment facility.

A visit by the Daily Graphic to the site at Tema Community three revealed that the large tract of land looked abandoned with the big trench used for treatment of the waste overgrown with weeds.

Also abandoned were a laboratory facility, a fuel tank and offices for staff who were not available.

It was observed that the area had been turned into a place of convenience by squatters living in wooden structures beyond Community three towards the Sakumo Lagoon.

The littered yard of the facility has also become a thoroughfare for pedestrians.

The Head of the Waste Management Department of the Tema Metropolitan Assembly (TMA), Mr Edward Mba, when contacted, confirmed that the treatment facility broke down in 2000 but due to lack of funds, the Assembly had not been able to restore it.

He said the waste generated in the metropolis went straight into the sea, adding that though it was not the best, there was nothing to be done.

Mr Mba disclosed that the TMA sought support from donor agencies and had been granted US$ 7 million support from the United Nations Industrial Organisation (UNIDO) under the Guinea Current Large Marine Ecosystem Project to rehabilitate the Tema central sewage system but it was yet to be lodged with the Assembly.

He indicated that the rehabilitation work could not start unless the fund underwent some processes.

Mr Mba explained that the fund, which was technically allocated to the Assembly by the donor agency early this year 2012 but was yet to be given to the Assembly, had a lifespan of three years within which it could be utilised.

He explained that Tema had three pumping stations which controlled waste flow from the various communities before converging on the central treatment plant at Community Three.

Mr Mba said because of the breakdown of the treatment plant, the waste diverts into a bypass and enters the sea without treatment.

He also noted that some of the pumping pipes between Tema Newtown and the pumping station at Community three were also blocked.

Mr Mba was of the view that Tema needed a comprehensive technology which would last long considering the low fees paid by residents.

He said the focus of the Assembly was to maintain the existing technology or to review and redesign it.

Mr Mba said Tema was uniquely planned with its own designs of underground pipes to serve the sewage systems in the metropolis but of late because of the use of foreign materials like stones and rugs, the lifespan of the pipes have shortened.

He said the underground sewer lines which were built in the early days of Tema over 50 years ago were old and would need to be replaced.

Mr Mba said the TMA had over the years tried to replace some of the pipes and this was capital intensive.

He explained that as of now the pumping mains between Tema Newtown and Pumping Station Three were blocked and would also need to be rehabilitated to have a round cycle free flow system.

He said the focus of the TMA was to review the old technology to give way to a more comprehensive drawing which would meet the low fees paid by residents.

Mr Mba also disclosed that another sewage problem had also erupted at the Tema SSNIT Flats at Community Three, as a result of which waste from the various homes flowed onto the surface of the earth.

He disclosed that the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development had approved GH¢100,000 to the TMA to be used in rehabilitating the system which had no direct linkage with the main treatment plant.

Mr Mba said the TMA had plans to gradually remove all the sewage lines before a catastrophe strikes.

He pointed out that it was time residents agreed to pay a little more for sewage to enable the Assembly to undertake regular maintenance at the pumping stations and the treatment plant after they had been rehabilitated.