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17.04.2012 Editorial

EDITORIAL: Enforce Sanitation laws

By Daily Graphic
EDITORIAL: Enforce Sanitation laws
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The outbreak of cholera, with its attendant casualties, has become a perennial canker.

In the last couple of weeks, 17 people have died from this national albatross, while 640 people contracted the disease in Accra in the first quarter of this year alone.

The causes of this disease are well-known — it is generally caused by poor sanitation, open defecation, eating contaminated food, drinking contaminated water, among other factors. Not surprising, the hardest hit communities are those with records of congested areas and poor sanitary conditions.

The Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) has, on countless occasions, publicly announced programmes to deal with the increasing insanitary conditions and other factors contributing to the mess in the city — the recruitment of environmental officers, compelling landlords to build places of convenience in their homes, among others.

But, as things are now, less than 10 per cent of households in the metropolis have places of convenience in their homes, while the AMA has only 150 environmental officers, instead of the 2,000 it requires to effectively monitor and deal with people who flout its environmental bye-laws.

The Daily Graphic believes that it is high time our authorities walked their talk to end this annual ritual. There are many food vendors who are not medically certified to sell food but who do so without any form of retribution to serve as a deterrent to others. There are those who also sell food by choked and filthy gutters without any official sanction.

There is also a lot of uncollected garbage from the homes of residents, while central refuse dumps at our markets and in our communities are always overflowing because the companies responsible for collecting the refuse fail to do so.

Some of them only show up at the end of the month when they have to collect their monthly subscriptions from residents.

Ghana has come of age and we believe we need to adopt positive lifestyles that will not endanger the lives of our people. It is for this reason that the Sanitation Court was set up to punish those who offend environmental bye-laws.

Unfortunately, because of resource constraints the AMA itself has not been able to engage the required number of officers to monitor and bring to book those who breach the laws.

While urging the AMA to step up its activities and deal with this perennial problem, we think Ghanaians also have a responsibility to respect regulations on sanitation. Many a time, we are the very people who defecate in open places and throw garbage into the drains who expect the city authorities to clean up the mess.

It is such recklessness on our part that continues to create so much pain and agony in our homes.

We must remember that it is only a healthy workforce that creates wealth and prosperity in society.

The more we dissipate our resources on the cure of avoidable ailments, the more society’s challenges become legion. Let us adopt preventive measures to bring down the disease burden on the country.

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