Clear these refuse dumps from the roadsides

Rubbish 1

Tue, 6 May 2014 Source: Pacas, Idris

Some times ago; our district, municipal and metropolitan assemblies cleared ‘all’ refuse dumps from our residential areas. Rubbish skips (large, open metal containers) were then placed at designated spots to collect garbage. These rubbish skips are now a feature in all cities and towns and in most villages as well. Thus, dumping refuse onto the open surroundings is now a rarer practice even in the rural areas.

Lately, however, it has become a norm for the public especially traders to dump refuse on roadsides—not just on any road but rather on busy commercial roads and not just on any side of the road, but rather on ‘trotro stops’ (places where vehicles stand for passengers to alight or to board). This practice is ubiquitous in nearly all parts of Accra.

In particular, tall refuse heaps are currently ‘aesthetic’ features in the following places—Accra Central Market directly in front of the Fire Service Station, around Rawlings Park; Kwame Nkrumah Circle directly on the ‘trotro stop’ in front of the newly open shopping mall and more abundantly on the George Walker Bush Highway right from Bambolino, through Nii Boi Lorry Station to Nyamekye traffic lights. The dumped refuse are not collected on daily basis; instead, they remain heaped up at the aforementioned spots for several days and even weeks. And once they are cleared, the heaping or dumping cycle begins.

The most annoying aspect is that the refuse is often heaped on the ‘trotro stops’. Three of such blemishing roadside refuse dumps, all on the George Walker Bush Highway, are at Nii Boi and Lapaz: the one at Nii Boi Lorry Station being quite huge and one of the two that are right in front of Las Palmas Restaurant also being huge (see photo). The refuse dump at Nii Boi Lorry Station heaps to about 1.0 to1.5 metres a week after which it is cleared and the heaping then begins. At its peak, the refuse dump widens so much that vehicles must steer into the inner lane to go around it. Effectively, that spot has been converted into a permanent refuse assembling centre.

To dump refuse on no less a road but on the one and only one motorway in Ghana is an eyesore especially at the time Accra claimed to be the Millennium City.

One of the two refuse dumps by Las Palmas Restaurant is a permanent one. The said mini-refuse dump is about 10 metres away from the restaurant itself. At first, the operators of the mini-lorry station there placed some sacks filled with soil on the road apparently to prevent vehicles from parking. In no time, that spot has turned into a perpetual refuse dump. Some of the refuse are ‘permanently’ bound onto the asphalted road surface such that only sharp-bladed tools can now remove them. The second heap is just similar to the one at Nii Boi Lorry Station. (See photo attached.)

The dumping of rubbish on these roadsides is never due to the public not obeying orders. Rather, someone in authority must have permitted that act. Or someone in authority who could have stopped the public from dumping the refuse there failed to act. Consequently, passers-by who have been seeing rubbish at such spots are motivated to add theirs.

The vantageness of the roadside refuse dumps supports the claim that somebody’s negligence or inaction led to the conversion of the roads into refuse assembling centres. For example, the one in Accra Central Market is just some few metres away from the Fire Service Station. Here, the firefighters knew that the refuse poses a fire hazard; therefore, they could have prevented people from dropping litter at that spot. Also, at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle shopping mall ‘trotro stop’, police officers and Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) taskforce are always on the alert ostensibly controlling human traffic.

The most surprising aspect is that the members of the AMA taskforce wield heavy-duty wooden clubs, unleashing them onto traders who stray onto the sidewalk. Just compare meandering your way through a crowd of traders with stepping on or sensing a nearby pungent refuse dump. Certainly, one expects a crowd in any busy commercial spot, but one hardly expects a refuse dump on the pavement of city roads.

Accordingly, the activities of the AMA taskforce are good but ill-prioritized. The same taskforce could have prevented the refuse from being heaped at those spots whilst still preventing hawkers from invading the roads. In any case, how sustainable are the much-awaited decongestion exercises? One more contrasting issue is that AMA has another active taskforce that immediately tows away vehicles that are parked at the roadsides. Why then leave refuse dumps on the roadsides, AMA?

Obviously, somebody in authority has officially endorsed that our roadsides be converted into refuse dumps. It matters not whether such refuse dumps are periodically cleared—our roads were never constructed to carry refuse. The mayor (pronounced ‘mare’ in British English) of AMA, Mr Alfred Vanderpuije, must note this and act accordingly. We refused to accept the conversion of our curbsides into refuse dumps.

Other issues relating to waste management in Ghana as a whole seem self-mocking. For example, our towns and cities are choked with rubbish whose clearing needs more hands. Ironically, the waste dumpers, wrongly named waste management companies, act purely politically by engaging (sorry employing) several persons as street sweepers/cleaners in villages where virtually no rubbish exists. In rural areas, nearly all ‘rubbish’ generated is simply organic and therefore could often better be composted at the backyard. Instead, the villagers now send the garbage to the skips which when filled up stand there untowed for several months. Why this, people in power?

Clearing the refuse dumps is the first step towards preventing anymore litter from being dropped there. Placing wheelie bins or dustbins is the second step, emptying the dustbins on daily basis is the third step, assigning taskforce to ensure that people drop litter into only the dustbins is fourth step and prosecuting people who drop litter on the road instead of placing it in the bins is the last step. In consequence, we appeal to the AMA boss, the waste ‘managers’ and the IGP to help rid our roads of refuse. Long live Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana!

Idris Pacas: 020 9101533 & iddrisuabdulai12@yahoo.com

Columnist: Pacas, Idris