The wall was tall, it covered the ground floor, but it could not hide the fact that, the building is a storey building, painted in green, with white strips, in a nutshell; very beautiful.
The entrance gave space for 3 green dustbins with the stamp of the waste management company in white paint on it. The house was green, the gate was green, the dustbins were green and it was all beautiful, but what caught my attention was not the beauty, but the little ugliness at the entrance. The dustbins were full, all three, and they had some extra boxes in front of it, those were also full, with some more rubbish scattered in front of this beautiful house. Who is to be blamed, we cannot point out, but one thing is for sure, we could all be responsible in one way or the other.
Sherry ahead and Aisha behind me, we find our way through these pack of rubbish, black and white take away rubbers, dozens of empty filtered water sachet, a little more of papers, and empty cans and bottles. If I were blind, and I have to tell where I was by feeling where I stand, I will, with no doubt, tell you, am standing on a dumping site.
A dumping site that existed for years, but this place is a bus station, and what seems like a weeks dumping site is the amount of waste materials made in a day. So many questions runs through my mind, who put all these here? The drivers? The passengers? Hawkers? I believed if we are to ask, they will all say they did not do it. We sit in a car and put all of our waste in the car, Yes well done, God bless you for not throwing your waste through the window onto the road, it would look nastier if the roads have this amount of rubbish on them. The drivers get back to the station and since the biggest station in the region doesn’t have even one dustbin at its disposal, they also have no option than to push down all these rubbish onto the yard.
I believe the next time cholera will strike in Ghana, it will take down more people than it did before. Where is the best place to position a refuse dumping cart, is it in the middle of the central market?, where all of our meat and foodstuffs are
sold, a big NO! but that is exactly where we want to put them. With all the flies and scent, we still choose the most vulnerable places to put our refuse dumping carts. What is the essence of campaigning for hand washing, if what am washing my hand to hold is already contaminated by a fly from a nearby waste site.
You might argue that there are a lot of waste management companies, who provide safe waste options that the people are not patronizing, I will also argue that, waste disposal should be free in a country like Ghana, where nobody cares about what rubbish can do to us in the far or near future.
Some people have resorted to dumping refuse in water bodies, into the bush, into gutters and many more places that are unhealthy, all these floods in the country are caused by unhealthy handling of refuse in the country. Ghanaians do not see the reason why they should pay to throw out their refuse, as a result they dump it into gutters and water bodies not thinking about the consequences of what they are doing. Some do not know that water bodies cannot swallow rubbish but rather drag it till it is choked somewhere and if a lot more of waste materials get choked at this same place, the passage of the water is blocked, and then flooding is the next strategy the water takes to escape, for it must flow no matter what.
We have forgotten, some 1000 kilometers ahead of us, is a community that gets its drinking water from these water bodies, they do not only drink from these streams and rivers, but also cook with it and bath with it.
Putting a charge on refuse disposal cannot solve the issue of sanitation in Ghana. I remember some years ago when dumping of refuse was free, every morning, all the kids in the community converge at the refuse dumping site, because one will have to come to safely dump the refuse of your home every morning.
But now there is a charge for dumping waste and that tradition of safe waste disposal that was highly promoted by our parents, beacuse it was free is over. Just a few people see the essence of paying to dump their waste at the site, or get it carried away from their doorsteps.
These waste disposal companies, gives you a dustbin for free, but you will have to pay for it to be emptied, some people cannot afford a full day meal, how do you expect them to even think about paying to dump refuse when they can just swing it into the river nearby.
In a country where there can be free education and free utility for some people, free fuel for some agencies and a lot more free offers, free sanitation should also be paramount. Free and safe sanitation practices is highly required if we really want to combat diseases like Cholera, Diarrhoea, Malaria, Guinea worms and many more that come with unhealthy waste management. The direct effect of it is chronic poverty.
Nobody seems to care, but we Should not wait for the “flood world tour” to hit us hard before we take an action, we should not wait till our population is wiped out by diseases and disasters before we correct our sight.
If you have a problem with your sight, you correct it before you get blind.
Apparently, youth organizations and other NGO’s are working tirelessly to make an impact, but they can’t go beyond cleaning the market for a day, or for a set day in a week or a month. Without a lasting strategy to conquer this issue, even our little efforts will be unproductive.
The way forward, If the government could empower and build the capacity of Health Education officers to be able to educate the people about the dangers associated with unhealthy waste management practices. Sanitation companies must take their work more serious, and also if Ghana could learn from Kenya to ban plastics in the country and result to using paper bags instead. The Environmental laws must be enforced and people who go against the laws must be punished. Again, individuals must take responsibility of their own selves, families and the country as a whole. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Ministries and government, have to play the pivotal role in taking care of our sanitation, if sanitation cannot be free, at least it should be affordable for everybody and easily accessible. But I still believe, sanitation can be free in Ghana and it is the best for us.
Thank you for reading, you can share on any platform, a paragraph can bring a change of mind to an individual and you can say more into the comment box, we need more ideas for an effective change.
Nuhu Alimatu Sadia