The Chemu Lagoon in Tema, which once had the potential of being a source of livelihood has almost dried up and is on the verge of 'death' as a result of uncontrolled dumping of both solid, liquid and industrial waste.
Reputed to be the most polluted water body in the municipality, the threats posed by industries and the municipality's authorities have been known for years, but no well defined action plan has been activated to save the lagoon.
A tour of the lagoon area revealed an increasing use of the lagoon as a dumping site. The factories around as well as individuals have contributed significantly to the pollution and killing of the lagoon.
The lagoon is not only in a state of stagnation but has huge traces of oil spillage from oil companies and factories. Environmentalists believe that fishes in the lagoon have either died or 'fled' into the sea because of the oil spillage.
dailyEXPRESS enquiries have revealed that as far back as 2002, several attempts were made by some concerned organizations to bring attention to the problems of the Chemu Lagoon. While it is on record that several agencies & institutions, including the Environmental Protection Agency attended these programs, nothing has happened since.
The 2002 seminar coordinated by the Corporate Social Responsibility Movement (CSRM) educated the companies and community residents about the nature and extent of the lagoon's pollution.
The seminar was followed by a demonstration by the people of Tema Newtown led by their chief Nii Adjei Kraku to protest against the negative effects the activities of factories such as the Pioneer Food Cannery, Volta Aluminum Company, Unilever Ghana Limited, Tema Oil Refinery, PZ, Nestle Ghana Limited etc are having on the lagoon and those who depend on it for their livelihood.
In a petition Nii Adjei Kraku accused the factories of contributing significantly to the fallen standards of living of the people in Tema and yet very little effort is being made by them to contribute to the development of the area.
Another thing believed to have contributed to the current state of the lagoon is the growing number of structures springing up around the lagoon. The occupants of these structures continue to use the lagoon as a dumping ground for the disposal of their solid waste despite the provision of a refuse container by the Ghana Ports & Harbours Authority.
“We are here blaming the factories for making the lagoon what it is today yet we are the same people who also throw rubbish anywhere,” said a middle aged man running a video rental shop near the lagoon.
The refuse is dumped anywhere and anyhow despite a warning sign “no dumping of refuse on the ground… spot fine 200,000 cedis.”
Mr. Lambert Fabylon of the Tema Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) office told the dailyEXPRESS that they are now engaging the Tema Municipal Assembly in discussions to contract a team of consultants to determine how best the lagoon can be revived.
Mr. Fabylon said the viability of the lagoon cannot be ruled out despite the current polluted nature. He also appealed to the residents to desist from dumping solid waste either in the lagoon or around it; “their attitude is a major source of worry to us.”
Minister for Local Government, Rural Development and Environment Stephen Asamoah Boateng at a recent public lecture in Kumasi described the situation of the lagoon as unfortunate. He observed that while such natural resources provide livelihood and foreign exchange in certain countries, the situation in Ghana is the direct opposite.
“Our present attitudes, behaviour and practices on sanitation are not only endangering our very survival but a threat to our ecosystem. We should, in our own small way try to keep our immediate surroundings clean at all times to prevent outbreak of diseases in our localities.”
Story by Nii Kwaku Osabutey Anny