27.04.2005 General News

Sachet water producers to take AMA to court

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Accra, April 27, GNA - The National Association of Sachet Water Producers (NASWAP) on Wednesday said it would take Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) to court if it went ahead to impose a ban on the sale of sachet water in the Metropolis.
Addressing a press conference in Accra, Mr Kwame Adjapong Ntra, Public Relations Officer of NASWAP, asked AMA to consider a proposal it submitted to the Assembly in March.
He said the proposal contained a suggestion to the Government to pass a law that would levy the import of granules used in the manufacture of plastics.
Mr Ntra said the levy, which could be collected by the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS), would be able to yield between 40 billion cedis and 50 billion cedis annually instead of the 450 million cedis the AMA was asking NASWAP to pay monthly.
"This will also be spread on all persons, who use plastics in their business including non-registered members of sachet water producers in the country," Mr Ntra said
The PRO noted that AMA's proposal to NASWAP to pay 450 million cedis monthly could not augur well for its 60 active members since most producers did not belong to the Association.
He noted that AMA had good intentions and meant well for the City but said, "the approach of forcing things down our throat instead of constructively dialoguing with us is causing the friction".
Mr Ntra, therefore, suggested to AMA to produce stickers for registered members of the Association and allow its taskforce to arrest and prosecute members, who did not possess the Assembly's stickers but were in business.
He recalled the formation a taskforce to collect plastic waste but said the collection of levies from the producers and payment of the taskforce became a problem.
He said the taskforce had, however, managed to collect 128 million cedis as at February this year to purchase six containers and had been paying people 1,000 cedis per a kilogram of empty sachets collected.
"We believe that the non-performance of the taskforce was largely due to the non-performance of the Ghana Plastic Manufacturers Association (GPMA) as the collecting agent."
Mr Stanley Nii Adjiri Blankson, AMA Chief Executive Officer, announced on Tuesday that the Assembly had resolved to temporarily ban the manufacture and sale of sachet water and all forms of plastic bags in the City with effect from June 1 this year.
He said the Assembly unanimously took the decision at the its last sitting.
Addressing a press conference in Accra, Mr Blankson said, it would be an offence to possess those items or to be seen in a factory, warehouse or in a shop, adding, "it shall be punishable by prison sentence or a fine as stipulated by law."
The Chief Executive Officer said all the 13 Sub-Metros in the Metropolis would also enforce the ban.
"However, the handlers have a choice to produce an alternative material, which could be confirmed as bio-degradable," he declared. On other plastic waste such as plastic pipes, buckets and others, the Mayor of Accra said the Assembly would deal with them as well very soon.
He said the AMA was going to employ 50 labourers in each of the Sub-Metros to clear the left over filth from sachets and plastic bags. He, therefore, appealed to Spiritual Leaders, the Ga Traditional Council, Politicians, the Judiciary and Security Agencies to support the AMA to effectively control plastic waste in the Metropolis by educating the people on the menace.
Mr Blankson explained that all efforts by the AMA to reach an "understanding" with NASWAP for months had not been fruitful.
He noted that the Executives of NASWAP in a dialogue with AMA refused to contribute the 17 per cent of the 2.3 billion cedis that the Assembly spent on removing over 1,800 tonnes of garbage produced daily.
He said NASWAP had also been giving excuses that it had 50 active members from over 1,500 members in the country and were, therefore, providing jobs.
"But the AMA regards that excuse as an attempt to throw dust into the eyes of the citizenry saying the Assembly had exhausted its patience. He said a more serious development was the suspicion that some of the materials used to produce sachet water bags actually contained "carcinogens, which can cause infertility and cancer," adding, however, "until this is confirmed, we would proceed with caution."
Mr Blankson said the Assembly was not targeting any person but was waging a war on the filth in the Metropolis.
He recounted that the Assembly spent over 500 million cedis to de-silt a portion of the Odaw Canal stressing that this time the AMA could not afford to do that.
Mr Blankson said the use of plastic bags had been banned in South Africa adding that Ghana could also do likewise, "we can't allow a few people to hold the nation to ransom".

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