...As garbage engulf the city The Mayor of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, Mr. Agyiri Blankson called a crisis meeting on Tuesday, 5th April 2005 first to discuss an upward adjustment in the tonnage rate proposed by the refuse contractors and also to confront the realities of mounting garbage in the city of Accra.
The arguement as to what was economically acceptable by the contractors giving all the indices i.e. increases the prices of fuel, lubricant and spare parts and the Aassemblies ability to pay, a hundred thousand cedis (100,000) per tonne was agreed. This makes it a 66.7% increase over the previous rate of 60,000 cedis per tonne.
Ideally, this increment, short of the expectation of the refuse contractors, was a vast improvement over what existed but the agreement remains that agreeing to pay is one thing and finding the money to pay is another.
A world Bank, Project Appraisal Document, Second Urban Environmental Sanitation Project (April 5, 2004) sighted by the writer puts clearly states that "revenue and budget transfers for waste management falls chronically short of the requirements."
User charges for such services as refuse collection and septic tank emptying are regulated by the assemblies and for some charges by the central government are generally kept below cost and below the ability to pay. Payment authorizations for expenditure by the assemblies are often seriously delayed, depending on the availability of funds and current priorities. In August 2003, it was reported that AMA owed 28 billion cedis to the members of Association of Service Providers."
At the said meeting, the Mayor said the meeting became necessary due to reports he has been receiving on the garbage situation in Accra. He particularly mentioned a contractor who has consistently failed to work at his designated area. But was quick to appreciate that the problem was widespread and so needed an urgent attention.
It is about time a sanitation policy for Accra and Ghana is formulated. Waste treatment and recycling is now the order of the day but sadly mismanagement of landfill site, no recycling and no incineration is the sanitation feature of Accra and Ghana as a whole.
The landfill site at Oblogo, near Mallam is a health treat to the residence of Oblogo and its environs. TV3 recently broadcast news about the deplorable state of the Oblogo landfill site.
Maybe Mr. Agyiri Blankson will be looking at a stakeholders meeting to brainstorm on the way forward with the sanitation issue as his friend Ken Livingston, the Mayor of London has done. A blue print sanitation plan for the metropolis has been produced to enable London catch up with other European cities.
As the saying goes, the same things done over and over produce the same results over and over and so we pray the current mayor will to terms with the realities on the ground.
Since 2001 when the City and Country Waste Limited's contract with the Assembly to manage both liquid and solid waste in Accra was abrogated and local contractors' services were engaged, the Assembly has continued to pay the local contractors 60,000 cedis per tonnage of garbage collected as against $30 paid to the CCWL at the time.
Even payment has become a problem. It took the intervention of the then Minister of Local government last December to get their 2003 arrears settled. The move left lots of reconciliation problems between the Assembly and the contractors especially those who have not settled in full the hire purchase agreement they had with the Assembly.
The meeting with the Mayor, the second this year and the fourth with the assembly should spell the way forward for stakeholders in the garbage industry.