By Kwaku A. Danso
In an article in the Chronicle of Feb.8, 2016, garbage collection company Zoomlion is reported to be providing support for a National Sanitation Day. Why should everything in Ghana have to be a ceremony, committee, conferences, and not make certain things a practice we all do in our daily lives?
Ghanaians as a people seem to like ceremonies and pageantry, but sanitation is not something one celebrates. It is a lifestyle, a culture, traditions of human behavior that everybody in civilized society must abide by for the individual as well as organizational health and security. Any disease that strikes one can hit and kill many thousands as some are finding out with HIV-AIDS, Ebola, and the new Zita virus carried by mosquitoes and now in South America and entering the USA.
Ghana should make sanitation as part of the national culture. We must build underground sewage systems and have weekly garbage collection by contracted companies with the equipment and trucks and personnel and a landsite dedicated for refuse waste processing. We must pay people and contacted companies to have our streets cleaned daily and pay for this service in each town and district and not expect others to come and do this for us. This was being done in the Nkrumah and post-independence era and we can do it again.
Ghana must also make it part of our culture to appreciate simple green environments by making mandatory growing of lawn grass in all residential school and public areas with shrubbery and flowers and plants. We are part of the human race and many of our leaders travel overseas to the West and Asia and see how cities and residential areas are developed.
God created us to control nature. Air conditioning is not a luxury in today’s world but something that protects not just humans but our assets. One can notice Ghanaians women Ghana loses an estimated $2 Billion in wasted environmental preventable damage due to equipment and appliances exposure to the atmospheric moisture through the chemical process of corrosion. This is simply caused by our natural atmospheric humidity which is a blessing in growing plants, but without air conditioning simply rusts stoves, refrigerators, hospital equipment and cause financial losses.
Another preventable damage we do to ourselves is the burning of trash in our cities and towns. Between 2004 and 2009 time I used “vigilante justice” methods to stop and convince others to stop this practice in my area of East Legon. However, one tree does not make a forest, as our elders say. We need to empower local towns and districts with elected bodies responsible for maintaining not only sanitation and enforce the growing of lawn grass and trees as a culture, stop trash burning and damaging the air we all breathe, but also use the taxes collected to budget and provide schools with libraries and network services and maintain health care facilities locally. Korle Bus should belong to the district in which it sits and this does not mean it excludes others but perhaps for a small increase in non-resident user fees. So should all regional and district hospitals. It is about time Ghana shed this aura of pseudo-socialism that central government should provide everything to every town, and amend the constitution to allow local elections and self-empowerment as in all modern working democracies.
Dr. Kwaku A. Danso, Livermore, California and East Legon, Ghana (email@example.com)