23.07.2010 Feature Article


23.07.2010 LISTEN

The vision of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly to transform Accra, the capital city to a millennium city is laudable and has won accolades from many stakeholders. However one would least expect to find livestock roaming the streets of Accra, in a merry-go-round style, in the official gateway to the country. What is worrying is the fact that these livestock are disheveling the environment and causing other havoc, with the authorities doing very little about it though the situation keeps deteriorating.

The vegetation of the city is at the mercy of herdsmen and their livestock. The streets of Accra and other preserved vegetations in the capital city have become a grazing field for livestock. A drive through some of the principal suburbs reveals farm animals grazing indiscriminately on every piece of vegetation they find, leaving the land bare. What is even worrying is that, this illegal act is extended to places like the ecological preservation zones along the Mortuary Road which was established mainly for aesthetic purposes and recreation. This practice over the years has contributed to erosion and compounded the flooding problem in which some parts of the city are contending with. (Heavy floods in Accra kill 11, hundreds rendered homeless, 21st June 2010

Overgrazing indisputably, contributes to increase of carbon dioxide concentration in the city's atmosphere and its subsequent ripples of climate change. Plants absorb carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to manufacture their food through photosynthesis. Grasses, however minor contributions they make also help in the reduction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and therefore function as a natural check on climate change. Preventing overgrazing in the city invariably will help reduce the health complications that result from global warming.

These animals defecate on the streets, in open gutters and other public places. The bad scent and the sight of their droppings is not only despicable and difficult to contend with, but also has serious health and environmental implications. Their feces attract house flies into public places and therefore put children and even adults at risk of contracting cholera especially during the rainy seasons. It may also contribute to an increase in the already high soaring cost in the combat of malaria in Ghana, since mosquitoes mostly thrive in filthy environs. This is really a force to reckon with owing to the fact that many children die in Africa as a result of malaria. (World Health Organization estimates that about 3000 children in Africa die every day.)

Social and economic implications.
Ghana is now a spotlight in the world owing to the country's sterling performance in democratic governance, the visit of the United States of America's first black president, Barrack Obama and the splendid performance displayed up by the Black Stars in the just ended 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. This will go in a long way to and help strengthen our fledgling economy. It is shameful and contemptible to see animals roaming the streets of the capital indiscriminately in this 21st century. It is therefore imperative to clear the streets of all manner of livestock in order not to discourage foreigners from visiting the country. These animals are rarely accompanied by herdsmen, majority of the livestock however, wander the streets on their own. Stray animals pose great danger to both pedestrians and motorists. These animals have caused several fatal accidents on our roads leading to the loss of precious lives. There have been instances where inhabitants of these areas have been chased by stray animals especially cattle, causing a lot of panic and fear among the general public.

There are reported cases whereby these livestock enter people's homes, supermarkets, shops, and offices and have caused panic with its attendant havocs, destroying properties leading to loss of millions of Ghana cedis. This situation sometimes results in serious altercations between herdsmen and property owners and in some cases, bloodshed.

The way forward
Though livestock production plays a very important role in national development since it helps to solve the nation's food needs and also provides employment to a sizable number of the youth, the streets of Accra and for that matter the streets everywhere in the country is definitely not the place to rear animals. The bye-laws of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, 1995, Section 79 of the Local Government Act, 1993 (Act 462), states that "no person shall keep any swine, cattle, sheep or goats within the area of administration of AMA without a permit issued by the AMA for that purpose, which shall be determined in accordance with the fee fixing resolution." It is therefore pertinent for the authorities in charge of the city to ensure that these laws are strictly adhered to. Animals found on the streets should be confiscated and owners of such animals should be made to pay punitive fines or forfeit them. This and many other regulations should be enforced to rid the city of any livestock.

Elvis Akwasi Acheampong,
Freelance writer and president of
Green Ghana Foundation.