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24.02.2005 Regional News

AMA gives ultimatum to sachet water producers

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Accra, Feb. 24, GNA - The Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) would from Wednesday issue a month's ultimatum to sachet water producers to give an alternative to the Assembly for the management of wastes from their activities or face the consequences.

The decision by the AMA stems from the unmanageable mounting heaps of garbage in the Capital City and the obstinacy of sachet water producers to collaborate with the managers of the Metropolis to find a lasting solution to the problem.

Mr Stanley Agyiri-Blankson, Metropolitan Chief Executive, last year sought to come to an agreement with the producers for them to pay a percentage of their income to help AMA to clear the filth that is generated from their activities but the producers thwarted the effort. About 80 per cent of filth in the City is made up sachet water containers and polythene bags.

The Chief Executive made this known on Wednesday when he briefed Mr Charles Bintin, the new Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, on the sanitation situation in Accra. Mr Agyiri-Blankson told the Minister that the AMA would, as part of the programme to improve sanitation in the City, begin a series of advertisements on television and radio from Wednesday to educate the various sections of the public on what was expected of them in locating kiosks and road signs; posting of posters and dealing with stray animals in accordance with the AMA Byelaws.

Owners of containers, kiosks and posters at unauthorised places would be given two weeks to remove them after which they would be forcibly removed.

Mr Agyiri-Blankson said the AMA was running an advertisement to educate the general public for them to appreciate the need to rid the City of objects that rendered the it unclean and also to make them part of the process.

For instance, the Metropolitan Chief Executive said, sachet water producers numbered about 1,500 and, therefore, it was not proper to let them hold the four million people in the Capital to ransom with the mounting filth they generated through their activities.

The Fisher Folk in the Capital have also observed that about 70 per cent of their catch these days is made up of sachet water bags while soil for construction works is also full of plastic wastes that cannot decompose.

Mr Agyiri-Blankson also noted that some sign and bill boards had been placed in such a way that road users, especially, drivers entering main roads from junctions could not see oncoming vehicles from either side of the junction, therefore, resulting in unnecessary accidents. "We are going to hold the bull by the horn and ensure that sanity prevails in the city," he said.

The Chief Executive said since he assumed office nine months ago, the AMA had been like a "whipping horse in the eyes of sceptics in the city" and anything that went wrong was assigned to it.

He said there was the need for people to understand and know the work of the AMA so that they would not blame the Assembly for the absence of some facilities like streetlights.

He explained that the Assembly began work in earnest to bring sanity to the City but the political campaigns held it back. "Now we are back on course."

Accra generates 1,800 tons of garbage everyday but AMA is able to collect 1,500 tons leaving a backlog of 300 tons. This is because the vehicles being used by the Waste Management Department of the Assembly were old and had not been managed well over a long period.

Mr Agyiri-Blankson said the main problem facing the Assembly was inadequate revenue.

He said AMA could with the right resources generate enough revenue to finance its activities and to even give soft loans to the Central Government as was done elsewhere.

Before he assumed office, the AMA had 63,000 listed properties but the number has increased to 151,000 after an exercise to register them and the City Mayor said the number could go up to 200,000. Mr Agyiri-Blankson said the AMA could collect enough revenue from these properties but without the proper naming and numbering of streets and properties, the task was difficult.

He, therefore, appealed to the Sector Ministry to reinstate the subsidy it gave to the Assembly in order to assist it to meet its obligations including payment of waste collection contractors. The Ministry was giving the AMA 450 million cedis a month as subsidy but withdrew the facility.

Mr Bintin said Accra had ceased to be the centre of opportunities because it lacked land and some basic facilities and was plagued with endemic poverty and displaced people.

He said the city was the first point of call for most tourists to Ghana but since there was no chance for second time impression, there was the need for the AMA to do its best to rid the City of filth and to bring it back to its former glory.

The Minister said he was aware the Metropolitan and Municipal Assemblies owed waste collection contractors for part of 2003 and the whole of 2004 and entreated the AMA to live up to its task by collaborating with the Ministry of Tourism and Modernisation of the Capital City, the Regional Coordinating Council and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to ensure successful implementation of its programmes.