Floods turn beaches into dumpsites

BY: Seth J. Bokpe
The Korle Gonno beach  filled with debris from the floods. Pictures: NII MARTEY M. BOTCHWAY

Last Wednesday’s flood that swept through Accra and other parts of the country has reduced many beaches, especially those in the capital, to dumpsites.

Among the debris that has taken over the beaches are plastic waste, polythene bags, broken bottles, rotten food and carcasses.

Every space along the coastal stretch at Korle Gonno, Nungua, Sakumono and the Accra Arts Centre is littered.

The only exception in the midst of the chaos at the beaches is the La Pleasure Beach, which was very clean and had a number of tourists enjoying the serenity of the coast.

Although the National Sanitation Day came off last Friday, the beaches in Accra were forgotten, a situation which says a lot about the country’s effort to make tourism the number one contributor to its gross domestic product (GDP).

Korle Gonno beach

The Korle Gonno beach in Accra, is not new to filth. It is notorious for two things-- as the receptacle for rubbish that flows through the Korle Lagoon, and pollutants from Agbogbloshie and Sodom and Gomorah and the home to the infamous Lavender Hill, where human excreta is dumped into the sea.

Tonnes of waste made of mainly plastic garbage rejected by the sea have piled up at the beach. The only difference between the beach and the landfill site is the rising tidal waves pounding the seashore.

Last year, it took a Daily Graphic publication of June 5, which was inspired by the NshoreNa Project on cleaner beaches, to clear the mountain of garbage that had piled up at the beach.

With no conscious effort to keep it clean, the refuse returned in blobs and when the rains set in, the filth got much worse than last year.
The Korle Gonno Beach is seen by environmental experts as one of the environmental nightmares of the country.

Shining Beach—Nungua

It is 1 p.m. at the cold sandy beach in Nungua. Shirtless boys run in and out of the ocean.

Ghanaian and Jamaican flags fly high at the oceanfront that is being constantly battered by rising sea waves.

Below the flags lie the eyesore—every unwanted waste imaginable is buried in the sand—clothes, lorry tyres, cooking utensils, rotten food.

Mighty Beach --Sakumono

The Mighty Beach at Sakumono also had pockets of rubbish littered at different portions. Unlike other beaches, the Mighty Beach was relatively “clean” at the time of visit by the Daily Graphic.

Canoes had been parked at the shore by fishermen, while the place looked quiet and less busy, compared to weekends.

Arts Centre Beach

The Arts Centre Beach located right behind the art and craft village in Accra is no different. The shore has become notorious for filth to the extent that its patrons have named it Borla Beach in reference to the filth.

Plastic bags, liquor bottles, old sandals, candy wrappers--every imaginable kind of trash--can be found on the otherwise beautiful shores of the beach.

The gloomy picture is further worsened by the activities of sand winners who are desperate to make a living from the sand at the beach.
Although sand winning is banned along beaches in the country, it continues to be a source of sand for the real estate sector.

Sand winning has created gullies in which the filth has collected. Although its sanitary condition is nothing to be proud of, the Arts Centre Beach is a busy place with temporary sheds for food vendors and revelers.

La Pleasure Beach

Afutu Nikoi, the Administrator of the La Pleasure Beach Resort, trudges through the sandy beach at La and points to the filth-free shore.

“This place is clean because of routine cleaning activities. Every 30 minutes, about 20 people are made to clean the whole beach; they pick every single stray material that land here.”

Mr Nikoi also stated that last week’s floods had affected the cost of operations at the place.

He indicated that the cost of maintaining the beach on a regular basis had also shot up “unthinkably.”

Even though Mr Nikoi was not able to state how much it cost to maintain the place, he said it was unbearable.

“After the flood, we were made to pay huge sums of money to Zoomlion to clear the debris, and that is affecting us seriously,” he said.

In spite of that, he said it was their responsibility to keep the place clean to attract a lot of tourists.

Losing clients?

In an interview with the Daily Graphic, the General Manager of the Ramada Beach Resort, a hotel near the Shining Beach at Sakumono, Mr Mohammad Gulfam, stated that last week’s flood impacted negatively on their operations.

According to him, due to the insanitary conditions at the beach, a lot of customers cancelled their appointments, which made the facility lose millions of cedis.

“Some of our clients called a day afterwards to cancel their appointments due to the flood situation and its related sanitation issues,” he stressed.

As part of measures to keep the place tidy, Mr Gulfam indicated that the hotel cleaned the portion of the beach close to it, adding that “we do this on a regular basis to keep the place clean in order to attract tourists.”

Residents’ concern

Some residents who spoke to the Daily Graphic also expressed regrets about the slow pace at which the city authorities approached the tidying up of the beaches.

“I’ve lived here for about 25 years and anytime it rains, flood occurs; the situation is so bad. Nobody seems to care about the sanitation situation here and everything is left on us,” Mr Samuel Akuettey said.

“Two days after the flood, we had to burry carcasses that had been washed ashore by the sea,” another said.

Some tourists also expressed disgust at the sanitation condition at the beach saying they would not return there given the chance.