Cleanliness, they say, is next to Godliness. That is why everybody is enjoined to maintain healthy surroundings.
Our community leaders, especially those in the rural areas, have always made it one of their priorities to enforce sanitation regulations. However, the serene spectacle in most of our communities, particularly in Accra, cannot be pleasing to the eye and the nose.
And the fact that Accra is engulfed in filth can hardly be ignored.
This is evidenced by the increasing heaps of rubbish by some roads and in some residential areas.
The filth is not only an eyesore but also poses a health hazard, as it is usually the starting point of epidemics such as cholera and diarrhoea, perennial problems in Accra and other urban centres in recent times.
The accompanying stench from heaps of garbage infected with maggots, rodents and harmful bacteria can also be unbearable to residents.
Filth is a social determinant of urban slums and in Accra such slum areas abound.
Accra's rapid growth has occurred without the benefits of consistent and co-ordinated planning.
Beyond a few high-class residential areas, the city has developed in a disorderly manner, with a growing number of communities where residents co-exist with filth.
The terrain of many of the unplanned communities makes solid waste collection an almost impossible activity.
It is almost an impossible mission for garbage trucks to meander their way through the narrow, unplanned streets of some of the suburbs to pick up refuse.
In addition, some of the waste disposal companies contracted to collect refuse seem overwhelmed by the enormity of the task, while others do not even have adequate equipment and resources for the job.
The main authority in charge of sanitation and maintenance in the city, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), seems overwhelmed by the situation.
Just last week, the AMA threatened to terminate the contracts of five waste disposal companies which were contracted when the assembly introduced the polluter pays principle (PPP) two years ago to work exclusively in areas allocated to them.
Already, the AMA has reduced the operational areas of the five companies to enable them to improve their service delivery, which the assembly described as unsatisfactory, especially with regard to registering and providing refuse containers for residents in their areas of operation.
Another factor that can be attributed to the degrading of sanitation in Accra is the indifference of the Ghanaian public towards good sanitary practices.
Members of the public dispose of garbage indiscriminately. Garbage is thrown into gutters, drains and any open spaces in the communities with impunity.
Soon the rains will start and all the filth scattered in Accra’s slum areas will be washed out by the storm waters.
The AMA needs to act fast to get all the heaps of garbage gathered in open spaces and in uncompleted drains in many of Accra’s urban slum areas cleared to forestall an imminent health epidermic.
The Daily Graphic is aware of the challenges confronting the AMA, but with more efforts, it can make the city environmentally friendly to befit its status as the Gateway to West Africa.