The country faces serious challenges with waste management. Every available space is littered with electronic parts, otherwise known as e-waste, empty water sachets, plastic bags and pieces of paper.
It is unfortunate that most waste materials from our homes and offices and markets find their way into open drains, the streets and streams, instead of dump sites. Garbage collection has somehow gone hi-tech instead of the labour intensive way of garbage disposal years ago. A few years ago, individuals called sanitary workers of the local authorities had to move from house-to-house to collect the garbage in bins for the dump sites.
Now waste management companies deploy trucks manned by a few persons to collect waste from homes for disposal at the landfill sites. The change in the methods of garbage disposal should have reflected in the better management of filth, but increasing volumes of waste simply overwhelm waste disposal companies.
Today, Accra alone generates more than 5,000 tonnes of garbage every day, far beyond the capacity of all the waste management companies to handle. The city has also grown beyond the traditional suburbs but there are constraints on resources to provide social services to make life comfortable for the people.
The growing population of Accra and the urban centres has put pressure on all service providers, to the extent that yawning gaps have emerged between the capacity of the waste disposal companies and the actual garbage generated by residents, and because the facilities are not available to absorb the waste, many residents have decided to just throw litter around any how, regardless of the environmental and health consequences.
Once upon a time, local authorities had a corps of dreaded sanitary inspectors, otherwise known as “Sama Sama”, who could sanction anybody who kept his or her surroundings filthy. There were even stories that the sanitary inspectors visited kitchens to inspect cooking utensils and water pots to ascertain if they had been properly cleaned.
That rigid inspection mechanism kept all the people on their toes, as heads of households made sure that members of their households respected the tenets of environmental hygiene. The authorities achieved a high level of compliance with good environmental hygiene because of the sanctions that were imposed by the local administrations and even the courts.
Today thinks the time has come for the authorities to apply the laws on those who are bent on polluting the environment with garbage.
It is important that we stop throwing garbage around indiscriminately. We must always look for litter bins to dump our garbage. The tendency to throw out litter from moving vehicles is also an eyesore.
We therefore want to appeal to waste companies in the country and the district assemblies to provide litter bins at vantage points for garbage disposal. If that is accompanied by public education, then residents will have no excuse to continue in their bad habits of indiscriminate disposal of garbage.
Recycling of plastic waste will also help get rid of the waste and provide employment for those who will collect the plastic waste. We call on all to make waste disposal a shared responsibility to ensure that the environment supports sustainable development.
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