Ghanaians from now onwards would have no excuse to litter publicly as the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources Tuesday launched the street litter bin project to distribute 20,000 bins to institutions and public places across the country.
Speaking at the official launch, the Chief of Staff, Hon. Akosua Frema Osei-Opare said the Metropolitan Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) have shown real commitment of securing the bins and emptying them frequently.
She noted that all beneficiary Assemblies would be required to sign an agreement on the management and sustainability of the litter bins.
The Chief of Staff indicated that the Assemblies will be supported to digitally capture all locations of mounted bins to ensure proper tracking and monitoring.
She added that the existing Kobo Collect or the ESICApp, a mobile applications developed by the GAMA Sanitation and Water Project will be used.
According to her, the Environmental Health Officers in the various Assemblies will be trained to use the platform to capture the exact locations of all these bins.
“This will ensure that the Ministry has a database of all bins and can do spot checks on how these bins are being maintained,” she intimated.
The Chief of Staff added dedicated phone numbers will be printed on all the bins to receive complaints from the public in relation to overflowing, full, dirty or damaged bins.
“The phone lines will also be used by the public to report individuals who abuse the bins. The "call center" will be situated in the Ministry and manned by officers in the Ministry. These officers will be given a short orientation on how to manage the "call center". Those who make complaints may call or send WhatsApp messages including pictures and the location of the specific bins for immediate action. The complaints will then be forwarded to the respective Assemblies for redress. The complaints will also help the Ministry to monitor those assigned to clean and dislodge the bins,” she emphasised.
To prolong the useful life span of the bins, Hon. Akosua Frema Osei-Opare stressed that the various beneficiary Assemblies will assign specific officers to clean and maintain the bins by the private service providers.
To reduce the abuse and manhandling of these litter bins, she added that a clear pictorial message will be engraved on them to encourage and educate users on how to use the bins.
“My appeal to the public therefore is that these bins are not for the disposal of household waste but rather for the disposal of handy litter generated while out there on the street. I also want to challenge those who will be assigned the responsibility of servicing the bins to ensure their regular emptying in a sustainable manner to help achieve the objective of keeping the environment clean,” she intimated.
The age-old problem
The Chief of Staff said it is a common spectacle to see people throwing refuse about at unauthorized places. Indiscriminate littering, urination and open defecation have become part and parcel of Ghanaians. This is not acceptable and time has come to reverse this poor state of affairs together.
She noted that it is against this background that the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources is coordinating the roll-out of the Sanitation Guards Programme in the various MMDAs. This will help augment the current low staff numbers of the Environmental Health Officers.
Sanitation is a free for all fight
The Chief of Staff posited that many at times, the responsibility of ensuring a clean and healthy environment is left to the various MMDAs to grapple with.
She noted that the issue of managing waste in Ghana is becoming more complex day by day due to an increase in urban population, springing up of unplanned settlements and inadequate financial resources hence the need to mobilise the support of everyone to join hands to find solutions to the challenge of managing waste especially in our urban cities and towns.
According to her, everyone living in Ghana has a critical role in ensuring that our cities are kept clean at all times.
Prevention is better than cure
Hon. Akosua Frema Osei-Opare said it is an undeniable fact that the short and long term cost of treating preventable diseases and restoring the damaged environment are huge.
She indicated that reducing or avoiding such cost must be an integral part of any coherent strategy for sustainable development and poverty reduction by policy makers.
According to her, one of the low hanging solutions the various Assemblies can fall on is for them to address the poor behaviour and attitude of the populace towards the environment if any meaningful progress is to be made in sustaining the current levels of sanitation services.
She added that considering the emerging challenges of inadequate treatment and disposal sites, there is the need to ensure incremental reduction of the proportion of the waste stream that ends up at the landfill, beginning with waste prevention and reduction, especially at the household level.
Nuisances in Waste Management
Studies indicate that the plastic component of the waste stream in Ghana, currently is over 10% and most of it is found on our streets, in open drains and even in the oceans and other water bodies. It is estimated that if nothing is done about this there would be more plastics in the ocean than fishes.
On waste management, the Chief of Staff intimated that one of the nuisances identified in the waste management chain is the haphazard disposal of plastic waste.
“It is unfortunate that plastics are found virtually everywhere. Plastic littering constitutes one of the major environmental nuisances practised by a majority of the general public with impunity and it contributes massively to the unsightly nature of our environment,” she emphasised.
The firm action
Hon. Akosua Frema Osei-Opare said the MMDAs should prioritise environmental sanitation and make the necessary financial allocations to ensure that these critical services are delivered continuously.
She added that uncollected heaps of refuse found at our city corners are not acceptable urging the private waste service providers who are assigned to clean these areas need to step up their game.
In the same vein, she urges MMDAs to intensify their supervisory and monitoring roles on these service providers.
According to him, the Sanitation Guards will support Environmental Health Officers and Assistants in the District Assemblies to sensitize the public and above all, rigidly ensure the enforcement of the Assemblies' sanitation laws and regulations.
The Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, Cecilia Abena-Dapaah added that government would soon come out with a plastic policy to deal decisively with the menace of plastic waste.
According to her, the ministry is engaging manufacturers of plastic products to see how best plastic waste could be managed in the country.
She also said that the ministry intends to distribute about 20,000 litter bins to the various metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies, as well as public institutions across the country.
The sector minister said Ghanaians must realize that proper waste management and clean environment are poverty reduction tools and so every Ghanaian should make it a point to keep the environment clean wherever he or she finds himself.