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General News | May 20, 2004

EDITORIAL: The War On Filth - a Nine-Day Wonder?

Chronicle

Poor Stanley NII Adjiri Blankson, Accra Metropolitan Chief Executive!

In spite of his declared intention to rid the city of filth within 100 days of his assumption of office, all too soon, things seem to have reverted to square one, two widely publicized clean-up campaigns notwithstanding.

It would perhaps need divine intervention for him to achieve even a quarter of the goal he had set for himself at the time. And the rains are now here, as if nature itself is daring him to prove how he intends to reach where he wants to go.

The Chronicle is by no means deriding the valiant attempts the Mayor has so far made to improve sanitation in the nation's capital, nor are we being cynical. It is our contention that this country, after almost five decades of independence, has to move from simply trying to educate its citizens on basic environmental sanitation.

The time is long overdue for a rigid, no-holds-barred and ruthless enforcement of byelaws and regulations on sanitation. Some people, it would seem, only see reason when they are hit in the pocket, hard!

We say this because from the initial public response to the clean-up campaigns, people DO KNOW what is right. They know that sanitation is the basic requirement for good public health. They know that dirty surroundings breed sickness, disease and at the worst, death.

However, years and years of nonchalance, corruption and the attitude of "Each one for himself, God for us all," have combined to breed a malevolent spirit of selfishness and "I-don't-care-ism" that has totally overwhelmed public-spiritedness and civic responsibility. This country is now spawning a crop of citizens who insist on their democratic rights without performing their duties and carrying out their responsibilities.

The Chronicle is sure residents of Accra will agree that if last week's downpour is anything to go by, then we must start preparing for massive flooding when the rainy season reaches its height.

The gutters and drains are still choked, mostly with plastic waste; many areas undergoing construction work are clogged with heaps of sand, stones and gravel meant for these works and thus prevent the free flow of water.

What is worse, the garbage dumps are still unable to cope with the daily refuse generated by normal human activity and are still overflowing as if no efforts were being made to decongest them. In commercial enclaves, many people create filth uncaringly, simply because they would leave for their homes in the evening.

What happens behind them, they care less, because they claim cleaners are paid to do that.

The Chronicle thus believes the Mayor must now move aggressively to tackle the problem of sanitation with greater determination if this city is to make any progress. Senior citizens recall nostalgically the colonial days when "town council men" went around the city summoning to court, residents who were not mindful of environmental cleanliness. Perhaps it is time to revisit that era.

Not only would such a programme provide avenues for youth employment; it would also bring revenue into the city's coffers. In addition to such a policy, the producers of plastic packaging materials as well as associations like the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU), churches and other religious bodies must also be roped in to contribute their share.

We are sure that these and other equally clear-cut measures, when pursued with consistency and focus, will make the problem manageable.

Let it not be said that our new Mayor's efforts are just a nine-day wonder, all blusters and no bite.

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