Health News of 2014-05-05

Burst sewerage pipes flood Tema with fecal matter

Tema branch of the Convention People’s Party has issued a damning press statement, in which it painted a rather gloomy picture about the state of sanitation in the port city located some 25 kilometers East of Ghana’s capital, Accra.

Ghana’s first President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, built the Tema Municipality with its major sewerage systems in the 1960s to lead the former British colony’s industrialization agenda.

But according to the CPP – Ghana’s ruling party at the time the city was built – “the sewage system has not seen any major repairs in the last 50 years even though some engineers at the Tema Municipal Assembly and Tema Development Corporation (TDC) attest to the fact that the system ought to have undergone routine maintenance starting from the 1980s”.

The result, the party said, is that “many homes [are]… getting flooded with fecal matter,” and manholes are spewing human waste “on a daily basis” –– a situation that has become “a source of worry and causing many to have sleepless nights”.

The Tema Constituency Chairman of the CPP, Selasi Koffi Ackom, signed the statement.

It said the “deplorable and dilapidated nature of the sewage system[s]” in Tema is so bad that streams of fecal matter continue to run through residents’ “compounds, verandahs, kitchens, sitting rooms and even bedrooms, posing very serious health hazards”.

The statement claimed Tema has become a fertile breeding ground for mosquitoes, “leading to an unprecedented high incidence of malaria in the area” because of stagnant water bodies in a Metropolis that was originally built to serve as a model for all future cities in Ghana.

According to the statement, “Some residents are also complaining of some forms of respiratory problems as a result of the heavy stench emanating from the broken down sewage [systems in Tema]”.

It added, “To add insult to injury, the TMA, instead of rallying the residents in a consultative manner to find a permanent solution [to the problems], has unilaterally and insensitively chosen to impose hefty fees on households in the name of sewage maintenance.

“For example, the TMA recently hiked the monthly sewage maintenance charge from Ghc25 to a cut-throat rate of Ghc80. There have also been instances where some residents have been asked to cough up as much as Ghc9,000…” to maintain the broken sewerage systems.

“Indeed, the irony of the situation is that while the by-laws of the TMA empower them to proceed to court and prosecute defaulting citizens, when it comes to the payment of sewage fees, the same by-laws do not give… tax-paying residents the same opportunity to seek judicial remedies when… TMA [officials] fail to honour their obligations, which is the case most of the time. Under the circumstances, households often find themselves at the mercy of private repairers who charge as much as Ghc600”.

“As concerned citizens, we wish to call upon the TMA, Ministry of Works and Housing and Ministry of Health to, as a matter of urgency, investigate this matter with a view to finding a lasting solution. The plight of Tema residents is now in dire straits and that is why we are making this Macedonian call,” it said.

Officials of the Tema Metropolitan Assembly were not immediately available for comment.

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