Eco-Conscious Citizens congratulate the Government for the Green Ghana Initiative and thank all those who participated in the tree planting exercise. We thank the Forestry Commission and Asase Radio for facilitating our participation. Green Ghana is an excellent Initiative which with the support of Ghanaians will go a long way towards combating climate change and beautifying the country. Of course lessons should be learnt from some of the challenges. Lack of enforcement of bye-laws was brought sharply into focus. Citizens were frustrated by situations like goats roaming around parts of the city, contrary to the bye-laws, and eating some of the saplings.
The Green Ghana Initiative has exposed the shortage of parks and open spaces. Hopefully the idea of building a multi-storey office complex on Parks and Gardens land meant for greenery has been permanently shelved. We cannot on the one hand be Greening Ghana, and on the other hand be building on land meant for greenery. We are pleased that Hon. Lamisi Lydia Akanvariba, Member of Parliament for Tempane made a statement in Parliament about the importance of Parks and Gardens and the need to protect our open spaces.
Environmentalists are confident that in view of the Green Ghana Initiative, Parliament will not approve the rezoning of Parks and Gardens lands from Green Civic to Exclusively Civic, in order to “plant” concrete in the form of a multi-storey office complex on Parks and Gardens land.
Eco-Conscious Citizens are working towards a clean, green, healthy and pleasant environment which is crucial for Ghana to work. Making Accra the cleanest city in Africa will not just happen because a pronouncement has been made. Some effort needs to be put into making this a reality and bringing about the change we want to see. The Greater Accra Regional Minister, Hon. Henry Quartey, has won the respect of many for his efforts to restore sanity to Accra. There is so much to be done. This includes addressing flouting of building regulations, dealing with buildings on water ways causing floods in parts of Accra, protecting the medians, ensuring that the frontage of houses are kept clean, and tackling noise pollution.
A noisy environment is damaging to our health and well-being. The Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A) has set permissible decibel levels which should be adhered to. In addition to damaging our ear drums, excessive noise causes stress, hypertension, sleep deprivation and irritability. It also affects productivity. We would not like a worker who has not been able to sleep because of blaring music to handle dangerous machinery, or a sleep-deprived doctor to operate on a loved one.
On 6th April Eco-Conscious Citizens Citizens embarked on a Day of Action Against Noise Pollution. We were disappointed that some police officers thought that noise pollution was only a matter for the E.P.A and the Municipal Authorities, when it is also actually a Criminal Offence.
Subsequently, we had a productive meeting with the Inspector-General Of Police, who impressed us with his professionalism. He confirmed that making excessive noise is a criminal offence.
The directive regarding the removal of sirens is a step in the right direction. We hope that this will be extended to sellers using vehicles with loudspeakers to publicise and sell their products, and vehicles of rubbish or borla collectors. The Assemblies should assist borla collectors in using technology to alert their customers.
Vehicles with loudspeakers should only be used in the public interest for making announcements, for example about health matters. A country that has systems working does not have all and sundry fixing loud speakers on their vehicles and inflicting excessive noise on residents. We need peace and quiet to think and reflect. The constant bombardment of noise affects us all by impeding the progress which comes from thinking and reflection.
Churches must obey the law, and if they must shout and use loudspeakers, their buildings should be sound proof. A law should be passed making it mandatory for churches in residential areas to be sound proof, if they must use loudspeakers. Mosques should also be encouraged to use technology, such as WhatsApp, for the Call to Worship.
The bye-law states that noise should not go outside the confines of one's property. This means that once your neighbour is hearing your loud music, the law is being infringed. To remove red herrings about sound meters, the E.P.A. should approve sound meters that can be downloaded free from the internet, so that there is no excuse for not enforcing laws on excessive noise making. We are in the 21st century and we should make technology work for us. A while back one needed special cameras to make films. These days mobile phones have been used successfully to film documentaries.
The Spatial Planning Department of Assemblies should be mindful of zoning and permits that are granted. Ghana cannot work if businesses that make noise are given permission to operate in residential areas.
With regards to sanitation, it is disappointing that in the 21st century we still have landlords building houses without toilets to maximise profits. The Assemblies should not stand idly by. They should enforce the bye-laws and ensure that all households have toilets, so they do not do their business in plastic bags and dump same in gutters.
Ayekoo Hon. Henry Quartey for efforts to restore sanity to Accra and make Accra work. With everyone doing the work they are elected to do or paid to do, our country will work!
BY Awula Serwah
Eco-Conscious Citizens Co-ordinator