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ESPA calls for urgent review of waste collection fees

BY: Edmund Smith-Asante
 Ama Ofori Antwi, ESPA Executive Secretary
Ama Ofori Antwi, ESPA Executive Secretary

The Environmental Service Providers Association (ESPA), has called for an urgent upward review of its waste collection and management fees with metropolitan, municipal, and district assemblies (MMDAs) as fuel costs have risen to unprecedented levels in recent times.

The Executive Secretary to the ESPA, Ms Ama Ofori Antwi, described the situation as dire and one requiring the urgent attention of the various assemblies so the country does not experience retrogression in the management of waste.

She pointed out that members of the association were not only contending with a regular increase in fuel prices but also a surge in the prices of vehicular spare parts due to the depreciation of the Ghanaian cedi against major foreign currencies particularly, the US dollar.

“An upward review of sanitation fees is urgently needed if we are to maintain the gains made in our environmental sanitation over the years.

“It is a no-brainer to state that the sanitation situation in most parts of the country is likely to deteriorate if urgent steps are not taken by the government to cushion environmental service providers who are battling rising fuel and vehicular spare parts to stay in business,” Ms Ofori Antwi cautioned.

Renegotiation

She stated that although district assemblies had since 2016 been reviewing the rates, the escalation of prices on all operational items now called for a renegotiation of the rates to address the rising cost of operations.

The prevailing fees range on the average from GH¢110 for first-class areas, GH¢70 for second class areas, GH¢30 for third class areas and GH¢10 for slum areas.

However, the realistic fee calculated in 2021 for residential areas was GH¢149.06 for first class, GH¢94.85 for second class and GH¢30 for third class residential category. That of the commercial and industrial ranges from GH¢223.59 to GH¢6,605.95 annually.

According to the ESPA, its calculation for this year demands they charge GH¢165, GH¢105 and GH¢45 respectively, for first class, second class and third class. For commercial and industrial, the range is GH¢245 to GH¢7,265.

Under-recovery

Currently, changes in operational costs do not warrant a corresponding increase in collection rates or processing fees, Ms Ofori Antwi said, explaining that fees were enacted by district assemblies in their bye-laws, which now more than ever requires an amendment to keep it abreast of the prevailing economic situation.

According to her, the service fees approved by the MMDAs for second, third and slum classes under the franchise system or polluter pays principle are very low due to the consideration that people living in pro poor communities are unable to pay realistic fees.

Additionally, some beneficiaries in first-class areas also fail to promptly pay for services rendered to them, worsening the already precarious financial challenges of service providers.

She also indicated that the last time a major review was made regarding waste collection fees was in 2014.

Current system

Sharing some historical analyses of the situation, Ms Ofori Antwi, said the financing of waste collection and management used to be the sole responsibility of the government through the MMDAs.

However, due to the government’s continued indebtedness to service providers, that burden of financing solid waste collection under the contract system was shifted from the MMDAs to the private sector under the current franchise system, in which the service providers collect service fees imposed by the MMDAs directly from beneficiaries of the service.

Clean city agenda

The ESPA executive secretary reiterated the support of members of the association to the President’s cleanest city agenda, which she said must be brought to the front burner again through appropriate policies and governmental support to the sector.

Expressing appreciation to the government for its current role in the country’s environmental sanitation drive, she added that the government’s commitment would be resounding if it ensured that service providers received realistic fees for the services they rendered, to at least help them break even.