Do uncharted treasure cause flooding and loss of lives in the city of Accra?

Flooding Adabraka file photo

Sun, 14 Jun 2020 Source: Doris Akobrika

This is neither water nor Cola drink, these are empty plastic collected from places such as hotels, school campuses, hospitals, garbage bins, etc. and re-used by our mothers and sisters in various local marketplaces across the country. Sadly, these same containers and other undefined plastic waste appear to be the origin of the perennial floodings in the city.

Make no mistake, the contents of these containers are not always cooked up to temperature levels that could destroy harmful microorganisms. Although, people who make a living by peddling these containers subject them to washing before selling to the market women for re-use. I doubt if that is sufficient to get rid of harmful bacteria and viruses that can cause diseases.

Admittedly, it is easy to immediately exclude oneself from the chain of beneficiaries of the content of these containers, however, if one ponders over the average Ghanaian worker who patronise food from vendors during lunch time as well as the ordinary housewives who handle the family’s consumables, you may begin to understand the magnitude of this problem.

Excuse my ignorance but I am extremely baffled at why authorities such as the Ghana Standard Board and the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources are unconcerned about these unhygienic and life-threatening activities especially in the wake of the current novel coronavirus and other infectious diseases. Is this practice safe for our country? Pardon my language but it seems to me that some public officials are ignorant or just unconcerned about the health of the very people who gave them the mandate to govern and as a result remain clueless with no solutions to the problems we are saddled with.

Aside from the looming health dangers that these practices might be posing to some Ghanaians, our leaders are busy looking up to Asia specifically China for grants, (Economic Colonialism in disguise) Meanwhile, available statistics shows that many countries have and continue to gain enormously from these same waste that has been left to cause mayhem in the city.

Existing data shows that until 2018 whiles China was importing a total of about 7 million tons of plastic waste, as at June 2019, about 62 companies in Malaysia also import plastic waste for recycling. As a matter of fact, as compared to these countries, Ghana neither has enough to export nor the capacity to import nonetheless, plastic waste can be re-engineered to provide solutions to flooding and create jobs for the teeming unemployed youth instantaneously. My candid advice to the Nana Akufu Addo led governing body is to stop the lip service and consider projects that will result in an all-round sustainable growth for the good people of Ghana.

Having said that, I humbly put forward three suggestions chiefly: Setting up a state-sponsored factory in the Greater Accra Region to recycle plastics and all waste emanating from plastic, this will benefit the general public in three folds as follows:

Firstly, it will enhance the Creation of jobs for both graduates and none graduates because apart from the existing less privileged men and women already in the business of selling these plastics, the new business would be more defined with vantage points and tracks for buying these plastics at a standard price. More unemployed Ghanaians will find it attractive to do for a livelihood.

Secondly, this initiative will help prevent the outbreak of any future serious diseases from the use of these bottles. The government should encourage and support individuals who may want to venture into such projects with a clear and concise policy in place to ensure the sustainability of lively hoods of these poor women. I am not very knowledgeable in medicine but I reckon this could help in eradicating or reducing the rate of infection of these preventable diseases that is slowly being passed unto consumers unknowingly through these unsterilized containers. To mention a few are: Type 1 herpes, Strep bacteria, Hepatitis B and C as well as Cytomegalovirus etc.

Thirdly, to Control flooding, assist in the reduction of extreme poverty and crime rate in the city. Plastic waste will become a hot cake. Consequently, the youth who would have been engaged in unlawful acts for survival would find a source of income. It will also automatically aid to resolve the recurrent flooding in the city and surrounding environs to a large extent since there would likely be a scramble for plastic in exchange for cash.

My second Proposal is for the metropolitan assemblies to enforce environmental laws and bylaws even if the result is jail. If these laws and bylaws are outdated and not deterrent enough, they should be updated or amended. For instance, we could pass a law mandating every business to be responsible for the cleanliness of areas of about 20 meters surrounding their business, failure to do so should attract a fine or ban in the operation of that business.

The third and final point is a deliberate effort to continue educating and reminding the general public by our religious leaders on the basis of JAMES 4:17.

It is believed that about 90% of Ghanaians belong to some kind of religious group. If these leaders will consistently remind and advise their congregations to avoid littering by making it a point to talk about this issues in the church, platforms, and places of worships each time they congregate, just as they remind us of our duty to support the word of God by way of tithing, collection, etc. After all “cleanliness is next to Godliness” they say.

Columnist: Doris Akobrika