Cleaning Accra: action needed now, not plans, promises!

BY: Ajoa Yeboah-Afari

Did i hear the Accra Metropolitan Assembly announcing a “decongestion exercise” from next week? Frankly i’m disappointed.

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Yet another ‘decongestion’? What about the filth? Or is ‘decongestion”, easing crowding, the same as ‘cleaning’? Or are we to understand that the two are twins?

Has the Assembly done any studies on WHY decongesting has become part of its routine, no matter which administration is ruling the country? Why have such exercises not achieved sustained success?

More importantly, why can’t the cleaning of the city start without preparatory announcements and fanfare?


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After all, presumably, there are officials of the AMA whose duty it is to see to cleaning the city, and apparently there are staff who are PAID to do the work and,equally importantly, there are officials paid to SUPERVISE and see to it that Accra is kept clean.

Therefore, to me, we should be done with talking, making threats or announcing city-tidying plans. What is needed immediately is ACTION!
And I’m not talking about targetting hawkers, but actual cleaning, weeding; tidying up the unkempt road sides and central reservations or median strips, as well as the roundabouts – especially those
named after famous personalities.

I expected the AMA and the Ministry of Sanitation to be so proactive that the last weeks of 2017 would have been spent finalising city cleaning arrangements so that right from January 1, 2018, they would
have launched a pragmatic, well thoughtout Clean City offensive. Naively, I had thought that the virtual inaction, and silence, in the midst of all the capital’s sanitation issues were due to some serious,
innovative preparation underway.

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Indeed, I had hoped that my first column of 2018 would be a piece
congratulating the authorities of the capital city and the Sanitation Ministry on starting Accra off on a clean sanitation footing for 2018.
Wishful thinking!

What I can’t understand is this: if those of us who have no power to solve the problem of filth in the city notice it and are concerned, what about the people given that assignment, who most certainly have that power?

Yet, this issue of Accra in desperate need of cleaning, and on a sustained basis,has featured regularly in the media and a number of times in this column. Is ‘decongestion’ the answer? Just wondering!
The other day a knowledgeable source was telling me with obvious satisfaction about all the positive, remarkable financial and economic gains under the administration of President Nana Akufo-Addo, although it is only one year in office.

I, too, was elated. But, of course that is only part of the story, I told him. “Fine; great!” I said to him. “But there are many ordinary people who, like me, don’t understand all these statistics and
figures. To those people, to us, what will tell the story of the
achievements in a dramatic way is what we can see for ourselves when we
look around us.

“If when we look around us we still see Accra wallowing in filth and overgrown,as if Ghana is now growing grass, to export, how are we
to get people to believe that things are getting better?” A spruced up
Accra, what is visible to the ordinary person, would surely be the
best testimonial for the Government.

But how soon is Accra Mayor Mr Mohammed Sowah going to ensure that?
On Tuesday and Wednesday this week, I did some rounds in a few parts of Accra to find out whether there are any parts of the city that are beginning 2018 on a clean slate, so to speak.

Well, the money I spent on the taxi fare was more or less wasted. I need not have bothered. The issues raised in previous articles about the need to rescue Accra from the squalor are still very much as they
were when I wrote about them last year and even earlier. A few examples follow;

excerpts:

April 10, 2015, headline, ‘A national service that’s too much to ask!’:It has been clear for some years that generally the communal
labour spirit has virtually departed from our society.

For example, everywhere one sees cemeteries overgrown with weeds, whereas previously theywere regu larly tidied up by the communities.
Secondly, a fundamental question prompted by the launch of the National Sanitation Day is: Why do we have to do the cleaning ourselves when our taxes are supposed to pay for such services?

But why are the teeming numbers of jobless people not being employed to take care of sanitation as is done in other countries?

And the question must be asked: how do other countries manage their sanitation without having to ask taxpayers to do the work their taxes are supposed to pay for?

May 12, 2017, ‘Accra must sparkle and bloom!’: Why do so many places in Accra look like they are part of an official project to grow and export weeds? Do the city authorities not care that Ghana’s capital is looking so unkempt?

When President Nana Akufo-Addo said that his aim is to make Accra the cleanest city in Africa, some people might have thought he was being too optimistic.

Accra could become not only the cleanest, but it also has the potential to be the most scenic city on the continent.

The President appointed Mr Kofi Adda, Minister for Water Resources and
Sanitation. It means that Ghana is now seriously confronting the squalor in our urban areas.

Places whose surroundings look like commercial weeds enterprises include, shockingly, the Ministries; the Pension House junction and the Ring Road. Then there is the Graphic Road, ending at the Obetsebi Lamptey Circle which at present resembles a forest under cultivation.
In summary, this country needs the Department of Parks and Gardens fully working!

November 10, 2017, ‘Attention Accra authorities! Are we writing for ‘ghost readers’?’: It’s a depressing sight going around Accra. Wherever you turn, weeds, choked stagnant, mosquito-breeding gutters and
litter. As for the smell of the capital city, how can it be pleasant given thatbackdrop?

It doesn’t matter where you are in the city, it’s the same story almost everywhere, including previously well-tended roundabouts and even the affluent Airport Residential and Cantonments areas.
* * *
As stated, doing my rounds of the city earlier this week, how I wished what I saw had encouraged me to congratulate the AMA in this first article of 2018!