OccupyGhana has noted with concern the huge swathes of plastic and other solid and human waste engulfing our country, especially our capital.
It is rapidly reaching an alarming state and photographs
taken after the recent downpour in parts of Accra in the morning of Wednesday 14th February 2018 have thrown this looming and potentially disastrous health and security problem into sharp focus.
We have also been monitoring how the matter of sanitation is being addressed by Government and we are concerned about Government’s commitment to resolve it.
It appears that in spite of the establishment of the new Ministry of Sanitation & Water Resources, little has been done to confront and remove the filth engulfing our country. The reality is that by the
Local Governance Act, 2016 (Act 936) and its predecessor statute, issues of sanitation are to be handled by the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Authorities (MMDAs).
There are also the provisions of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency Act, 1998 (Act 564), and the functions assigned to that Agency. This legislative dilemma is compounded by the Environmental Sanitation provisions under Part Five of the Public Health Act, 2012 (Act 851), falling within the remit of the Ministry of Health.
We therefore have doubts as to what the Ministry will do and achieve when it technically has no legislative mandate to handle sanitation anywhere in the country, unless its role is to coordinate the activities of all the legislatively-mandated bodies on issues of sanitation.
We have taken note of the National Sanitation Campaign launched by the President in November 2017, which does not appear to have made any real impact in resolving the problem yet. Under this
campaign, there were to be:
a) Introduction of automated street sweepers.
b) The formation of a National Sanitation Brigade.
c) Appointment of Sanitation Marshalls and Deputies in Municipal and District Assemblies; these appointments were to have been made within one week of the announcement by the President.
None of these initiatives appear to have started, with no clear cut time frame on when and how the Ministry of Sanitation & Water Resources intends to roll out the program.
The President also indicated that he and the Minister for Monitoring & Evaluation would evaluate the performance of all Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) and publish the results of their performance.
We think that it would be very apt if the agreed Key Performance Indices used to evaluate them are published so that as Citizens we can monitor and score our MMDCEs on sanitation issues.
We also call upon our MMDAs and Ghana Police to rigidly enforce our laws regarding littering the environment, refuse disposal and open defecation, and charge and prosecute offenders. There are the specific provisions under sections 13(3) and 14 of the Governance Act, which empower them to
enforce the provisions of section 296 (1) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29) and section 56 the Public Health Act. These laws contain the penalties for breaches. We see no reason why the laws should not be strictly enforced and offenders punished. We urge the MMDAs and Ghana Police to enforce them without delay.
We urge the Government, acting through the MMDAs, to confront this menace before the impending rainy season, which comes with diseases such as cholera, a direct consequence of poor sanitation.
OccupyGhana® is convinced that as a people we should ingrain the practice of keeping our surroundings clean on a continuous basis and not restrict it to periodic nationwide clean up exercises.
To achieve this, the bodies tasked with sanitation responsibilities by law, must strictly apply our sanitation laws, carry out intensive and sustained public education and build a new positive attitude in our citizens toward caring for and protecting the environment. This must be done without any further delay.
We also urge Ghanaians to desist from littering the environment, refrain from disposing refuse improperly and stop the practice of open defecation. We must all strive as a people to live up to our dying national maxim: “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”.
The fight for a clean environment cannot be delayed further.
Let us Keep Ghana Clean!