(A GNA Feature by: Rev. Emmanuel P.K. Aubin)
ACCRA, May 29, GNA - Ghana and most of parts of West Africa which are littered with a sea of undesirable water sachet water, plastic and shopping bags urgently need laws and bye-laws to protect nature and save the sub-region from environmental disaster.
These sea of littered shopping bags need to be cleaned up if only we want to save and protect our enviable environment from toxic waste products.
We should replace these bags with cotton, nylon and paper, which in the initial stage would not be palatable but as the people wouldn't have any choice they would have to adapt and be environmentally friendly.
Since it is difficult to locate all sachet water and plastic producers as many operate in their rooms, individuals and those who sell these products should be made to disclose to the authorities where they got their products from.
If the authorities found that individuals are not cooperating, the various bye-laws should be applied and have such people fined. Manufacturers and those who import, produce, distribute or sell plastic bags and sachet water should be also roped in, if the authorities here are indeed determined to stem the problem. Authorities had a raft of reasons for declaring war on the plastic waste that not only block gutters and drains, endanger the ecosystem and even animals and marine wildlife, pollute the soil and also ruin natural vistas and can take 20 to 1,000 years to decompose.
The animals were eating the plastic bags and dying, Loss of livestock can be depressing and add to the woes of this poor continent that regularly suffers from bouts of drought.
The plastic bags and waste water sachets used to clog drainages, culverts pipes and an eyesore on our beaches. They are thrown everywhere, got stuck in the trees, and spoiled our beautiful landscape.
Many people would agree that years back life was smooth-sailing was clean without these plastic products that modern technology has thrown on our necks like an albatross.
Even though the ban would have some effect on peoples' movement in terms of buying and selling they would soon forget about sachet water and plastic bags and adapt new ways that are environmentally friendly. A research shows that some European and African countries has ban the use of plastic products.
Eritrea has kicked out plastics bags and replaced them with cotton and nylon. Eritreans have no choice but to adapt to the situation. Since January, the Ministry of Land, Water and environment of Eritrea has ban the use of plastic bags and those who import, produce, distribute or sell plastic bags in Eritrea are fined.
If our authorities are indeed determined to stem the problem then they should not look back but to carry out the agenda of banning the use of plastic and sachet water bags.
Governments and City authorities should know that discarded plastic bags provide habitat for mosquitoes to breed that increase the risk the sub region faces from malaria, a disease that is the leading cause of infant mortality in West Africa and throughout Africa. Europe, Ireland introduced a similar bid to cut down the use of plastic bags in March 2002 under a programme dubbed: "plastax". By August that year, shoppers had already cut the use of plastic bags by 90 percent,a research has shown.
West Africa and Africa agenda should be to give a human face to environmental issues; empower people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development; promote an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes towards environmental issues; and advocate partnership which will ensure all nations and peoples to enjoy a safer and more prosperous future.
Health and Environment Linkages should be initiated to improve decision that would be related to protecting ecosystems and the goods and services they provide to society.
This Initiative should focus on protecting environmental health it should also be integrated with sustaining economic growth and improving livelihoods.
Government should also sensitise the people with colourful activities such as street rallies, bicycle or motorbike parades, green concerts, essays and poster competitions in schools, tree planting, as well clean-up campaigns.
Governments should also be bold to take decision concerning the environment even though it would cause the displeasure especially those whose livelihood solely lies on the sale of sachet water and other plastic products but with time, people would see the good works of the government and more and more people who know the role environment plays in one's life will stand tall to defend the authorities.
Government should encourage the district and municipal authorities to implement laws and regulations that will make us feel proud as Ghanaians.