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06.11.2008 Health

Waste collection in trouble if …

Waste collection in trouble if …

Mr Nathaniel Armah, Director, Research and Development at Zoomlion, a private waste management company, on Wednesday cautioned that waste collection could come to a halt in three to four months if nothing was done to secure new dump sites.

He said currently most places identified as rubbish dump sites were full and the most difficult problem faced in the environmental sanitation industry was the acquisition of land to be used as a landfill site.

“Landfill sites are expensive but to be able to manage waste effectively and efficiently every district must have a landfill site,” he said, at the 16th Faculty of Science Colloquium, an annual event by the University of Ghana, Legon, that serves as an open forum for members of the faculty and students to share information and views on their research activities.

This year's event is on the theme: “The Management of our Environment for the Sustainability of our Livelihood.”

Mr Armah stressed that the provision of a final rubbish disposal infrastructure could help solve the sanitation problems in Ghana and urged government to compliment the role of private waste management companies to lesson the burden on them.

Giving statistics about waste collection in Accra alone, he said about 1,820 tones of rubbish was generated daily in the capital city and Zoomlion was able to collect about 1,200 tones asking where the remaining uncollected rubbish went.

Mr Armah said it was likely that the uncollected rubbish ended up in gutters and on the streets causing the sanitation problems, especially in the cities.

He shared Zoomlion's experience in waste management in Accra, specifically pointing out the challenges and prospects for the company and called for a coordinated waste management programme in the country to help achieve efficient waste management.

He urged local industries to produce durable locally made and affordable waste bins since most of their bins were imported making the cost of their operations expensive.

Mr Armah explained that one of the challenges the company faced was high import duties and taxes and urged government to reduce such taxes and grant them tax holidays to compliment their efforts.

He also identified the lack of qualified personnel in the environmental sanitation sector and said the company also needed qualified financial managers to manage their revenue.

Another challenge, Mr Armah pointed out, was the refusal of people to pay for their rubbish which also made people throw rubbish in the gutters and on the street to avoid paying for the rubbish they generated.

Explaining the payment system, he said Zoomlion was trying to provide affordable services to people based on their class in society and explained that in low-income earning areas they placed a big container for all people in the community put their rubbish in them.

Mr Armah said in his opinion the best option for waste management was the door-to-door option where rubbish collectors visited individual homes to take their rubbish for a fee.

He, however, said the door-to-door option was expensive and time consuming hence the use of the community container system in low-income earning areas.

He announced the introduction of a system called: “Polluter must pay Principle,” where people would be made to pay for the rubbish they generated depending on the size and said the project was being tried in an area in the Tema metropolis.

Mr. Armah also announced the recruitment of Zoomlion sanitation guards to check and arrest people who litter the environment and hand them over to be prosecuted.

He urged the academia to go beyond research to the field to asses the reality of the ground and come out with practical proposals that Zoomlion could implement.

Mr Armah also urged the students to venture into the environmental sanitation sector and not to see it as a job for the un-educated, saying, “waste management is a lucrative area.”