Vice President John Dramani Mahama has indicated that a ban on the use of non-degradable plastics could be on the cards for consideration as part of measures to stem Ghana's increasing waste management difficulties.
In brief remarks to the first ever National Environmental Sanitation Forum underway at the Accra International Conference Centre, John Mahama said the nation is drowning in plastics and it is high time a decision is taken on what to do with the menace.
The forum under the theme, 'Cleanliness is next to Godliness' is part of the Government of Ghana's Hundred Days' Sanitation and Ghana Going Green Agenda, and will rise this afternoon with a communiqué and a blueprint on dealing with the sanitation challenges across the country.
The Vice President told the forum that banning plastics in the country may not be the best option and expressed the hope that the situation does not come to that, but he stressed that if the country failed to come out with an effective programme to deal with the danger, then the safety of the populace would have to take precedence and a ban imposed on the use of plastic bags.
Describing the forum as one long overdue, given that the nation has been grappling with the scourge of environmental sanitation over the years, he said a blueprint from the meeting would be a long way to practically deal with the situation and depart from the yearly ritual of long talks and no action.
The Vice President said there exist technologies for managing waste and stressed the need and willingness of the state to support investors into such areas to make their ventures worthwhile.
John Mahama said advanced countries are processing waste into useful ends, while in Ghana, the people continue to suffer sicknesses as malaria, typhoid, cholera and a host of others, while businesses also suffer patronage for the same reasons.
The Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, Madam Sherry Aryitey, said the proper function of cities, towns and communities, is critical to the development of every nation because they are at the centre of economic growth and act as a catalyst for investment, knowledge and for economic regeneration.
However, she said urban growths have brought in their wake their own challenges, including strains on existing infrastructure, over population, waste management problems and many more.
“Urban growth cannot be avoided as long as we view cities as agents of growth, contributing significantly to the overall economic growth of the country. To effectively tackle these challenges, we must change our present strategies of solve the problems as they come and adopt a long term multi-prone holistic approach.”
She said the government was ready to introduce and support an improved method of waste management practice in the country, which will use innovative and advanced technologies to avoid the current practice of dumping waste at designated sites.
She therefore challenged the Architectural and Engineering Services and the Department of Urban Roads as well as the district assemblies to design roads with covered drains to help reduce the indiscriminate dumping of waste particularly in the cities.