Confronting the Waste Menace

Editorial/Features IN our last edition, the EcoWatch drew the attention of its numerous readers to the fact that throughout history, society has been built by people with vision as...

IN our last edition, the EcoWatch drew the attention of its numerous readers to the fact that throughout history, society has been built by people with vision as well as purposeful and selfless instincts.
This was after the renowned Nigerian international motivational speaker and reverend minister of repute, Rev. Dr Adeyemi, had espoused the virtues of Dr Joseph Siaw Agyepong, Executive Chairman of Jospong conglomerate and Zoomlion, and described Zoomlion as a remarkable thing to have come out of Africa.
Jospong, he said, was more than a business and that it was a movement established by God to transform people’s lives in Ghana, Africa and the rest of the world.
True to our commendation and the recognition accorded the company by international experts, Zoomlion has again broken new grounds. The company recently elevated its sanitation duties to a higher level with the launch of 10 mechanical street sweepers.
At the launch, Dr Agyepong explained that the acquisition of the mechanical street sweepers was in response to the call by the President, Nana Addo Dankwa AkufoAddo, on members of the Environmental Our poor sanitation habits can put off visitors – Prez Service Providers Association (ESPA) to come up with innovative ways to deal with the country’s growing sanitation challenges. He also announced that Zoomlion was also repositioning itself to form a partnership with the Government and other stakeholders to achieve the President’s objective of making Accra, the nation’s capital, the cleanest city in Africa.
Just around the same time, President AkufoAddo in his State of the Nation Address gave the strongest indication that laws on sanitation would be enforced and that offenders were to be punished.
Sanitation Offenders
He said the Ministries of Justice and Sanitation were working together to prosecute sanitation offenders and that persons “who litter would be tried and punished as well as those who steal litter bins from our streets.”
The initiative by Zoomlion in acquiring the street sweeping vehicles, as well as the President’s directives on enforcing laws on sanitation, are steps in the right direction.
They are major initiatives that would not only prove beneficial to the country but serve as a boost in our efforts at improving sanitation and halting environmental degradation in the country.
The importance of sanitation in the overall development of every nation cannot be overemphasised. Such interventions go a long way in enhancing living conditions, support socio-economic growth and help eradicate disease and insanitary surroundings.
That is the more reason why certain concerns raised by President Akufo-Addo in his State of the Nation Address need to be taken seriously. Is it not a shame and, indeed, a serious indictment on the educated elite and city and urban dwellers that open defecation is rampant in our cities and urban centres?
Again, what is the justification in Ghanaian’s drinking sachet water and littering the plastic bags with careless abandon to the extent that today plastic filth is the country’s biggest problem according to the President? Can’t it be said that surely should be regarded as a scar on the conscience of the citizenry?
Thankfully, through the initiatives of Zoomlion and the result of scientific research, it has come to light that waste can be turned into wealth and the rate at which both solid and liquid wastes are being given value addition for the country’s socio-economic advancement must not only be commended but given the much needed push for the anticipated expansion through job creation for the unemployed youth of this country.
In the end, the country and the citizenry would be the utmost beneficiaries and such initiatives would undoubtedly advance Ghana’s industralisation drive.

On Thursday, February 21, 2019, the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, fulfilled his constitutional obligation by addressing members of Parliament and the Ghanaian people on the state of the nation.
In that address, the President, who has pledged to improve sanitation in the country, and make Accra the cleanest city in Africa, by the end of my term, spoke extensively about some of the sanitation challenges facing the nation and steps being taken to address them.
Below is the relevantt portion of the speech that deals with sanitation.
THE greatest attraction of our country is its people. Yes, we have castles and forts, we have waterfalls and dramatic mountain ranges, we have breath-taking beaches, and historical sites that reduce visitors to strong emotions, but it is the people of Ghana and our welcoming attitude that are the strongest attraction to visitors.
We should never forget that we all have a responsibility to make visitors to our country feel welcome. In this “Year of Return”, when we have invited the world to visit, I would urge each one of us to make a special effort to make a visit to our country a memorable one. Our music, our foods, our clothes and the quintessential ‘akwaaba’ smile will make a visitor to our country come back again and again.
But there are things that many of us do that would put off any visitor from visiting our country, no matter how attractive the geography or the history might be. I refer, especially, to some of our sanitation habits.
Public resources must be channelled into ventures that generate wealth, and not spent on avoidable expenditures. The cost of clearing and cleaning up our cities and towns after those who litter has become prohibitive. The littering habit seems to be more predominant in the cities and urban areas, and, mercifully, largely absent in the villages.
But there are things that many of us do that would put off any visitor from visiting our country, no matter how attractive the geography or the history might be. I refer, especially, to some of our sanitation habits
Last year, I reiterated before you my pledge of improving sanitation in the country, and making Accra the cleanest city in Africa, by the end of my term. There has been a significant improvement in sanitation, even though, I acknowledge, more can be done.
However, this is currently the state of play. We have witnessed an increase in the coverage of solid waste management, from 16.6 percent to 53 percent, and, over the course of last year, 35,862 household toilets were built, as opposed to 1,698 in 2016. We will intensify efforts at making Accra a clean city
In 2019, apart from continuing with educating and sensitizing people, we intend to use the bye-laws to enforce cleanliness. The Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Sanitation are working together to try sanitation offences. Persons who litter would be tried and punished, and so would those who steal litter bins from our streets.
We are launching a National Sanitation Brigade to help us carry this out, and, through this vehicle, we will not only keep our towns and cities clean, but will also provide jobs for our young people. Once waste is properly and efficiently managed, we then can explore how to use the waste collected to advance the economy of our nation.
A cursory look around our cities and towns would show us that plastic filth is our biggest problem. We intend to solve this problem through the internationally recognized priorities of waste: reduction first, followed by reuse, recycle, recovery and, lastly, disposal, which is to be avoided whenever possible.
Government has prepared a Plastics Management Policy, with the overarching aim of meeting the challenges of comprehensive plastics management. About 82 percent of Ghana’s plastics waste could be readily recovered and recycled with existing technologies into value-addition products in high demand locally and within the West African region.
A vibrant recycling industry in Ghana could recover nearly one million tonnes of waste plastics from the environment and landfills annually, to be recycled into basic needed products valued at GH¢2 billion per year, creating many jobs across the economy. Currently, extensive discussions are being concluded with investors on the most sustainable options available to rid Ghana of this plastic filth menace.
We are also tackling the problem of electronic waste head on. On August 20, 2018, I launched the National E-waste Program to mark the commencement of two key provisions of the Hazardous and Electronic Waste Control and Management Act, Act 917.
These provisions empower the External Service Provider (SGS) to verify, assess and collect the advance recycle eco fee on all electrical and electronic equipment from all exporting countries, and also to establish a state-of-the-art recycling facility at Agbogbloshie, whose construction will begin in April.
Not only would we solve the problem of waste disposal in an environmentally friendly manner, setting up the recycling facility will lead to the creation of over 20,000 direct jobs, through the establishment of associated holding centres in each regional capital and collection centres in each district.
It is unfortunate that, in 2019, we still have to revisit this topic, but, open defecation cannot be a characteristic of a country that is working to be transformed economically, and to be counted amongst the developed nations of the world. That is why it is absolutely imperative that we make a success of our One House-One-Toilet Policy.
The Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) Programme is being implemented in over 4,500 communities in 130 districts to achieve Open Defecation Free (ODF) Communities.