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Johnnie Hughes’ 10-point proposal for a clean Ghana

I decided to take a Sunday afternoon stroll, and here’s what I saw.

Somewhere in Accra, the gutter by the Queen’s (Manye) Street, is chocking on a sad melody of trash and rubbish.  The mosquitoes will soon join in on the chorus and then the funny smells will provide their own solo to complete the dirge.

Is the clean city dream by President Akuffo-Addo (Nii Kwaku Okudziaman I, as enstolled by the late Oblempong Nii Kojo Ababio IV), achievable in 4 years? YES! Why not?

Here’s how – My 10 point proposal:

  1. Government must quit paying lip-service to the sanitation drive campaign and show leadership and vision: Setting up the sanitation Ministry alone is not enough. How empowered is that ministry? And what’s their budget? Where is their office? Ghana has done it before, with the help of “tankasey” (town council), so let government employ and empower the sanitation marshals it promised a year ago to do the needful!
  2. MMDAs must step up their game: Prevention is better than cure and it applies to waste management too! I expect enforcement of the various by-laws and stiffer punishment for offenders. I expect the provision of resources like wheelbarrows, rakes, spades and other implements to ensure that the monthly clean-up exercises are fruitful. The days of scooping silt from uncovered drains and heaping them right next to gutters, and refusing to collect them for days, must be a thing of the past. We all know the silt gets back into the gutter. Work done, therefore, becomes Cos 90 – Zero! I expect reward for whistleblowers. Finally, I expect a lot of education at all levels but most especially at the basic level of schooling. It should be possible to have subjects and sub-elements of hygiene inculcated into the curriculum if there is any meaningful collaboration between the MMDAs and the Ghana Education Service (GES). The next generation must be taught to do better.
  3. It should be an offence for a household in Ghana, if it does not have a rubbish bin provided by a reliable service provider approved by the assembly. This bin should be emptied daily or after every 3 days. This should prevent the abuse of sanitary sites at markets, and the nuisance of itinerant rubbish collectors. We all pretend not to know where those “Kaya borla” guys on tricycles dump the refuse they collect from us for a pittance. Now, since the MMDAs control the public basic schools within their jurisdictions, they must ensure to provide them with sanitary sites and rubbish bins to aid the pupils and students practice what they are taught. And just as we did with fire hydrants in the past, it should be a taboo to walk a 100 meters anywhere in this country and not walk past a public rubbish bin at every 100-meter click. If we expect people not to litter, we must give them a good reason not to litter.
  4. It must be the outstanding dream of all public transport unions and drivers, city guards and passengers to ensure that all vehicles have rubbish bins (as was directed sometime ago). May vehicles that do not have rubbish bins not be patronized and may they be appropriately punished for disrespecting our President’s dream.
  5. It must be a key component of every event plan, to have a bullet point directing how to manage the rubbish or garbage generated after the event. Often times, event planners (both professional and non-professionals), spend all their time and resources thinking of drinks, food, music, guests, venue, publicity, etc, all geared at making the event successful. Even phone calls have a place of the budget, but waste management doesn’t. It is only after all the fun has been had, and the filth rears its ugly head that event planners rush to look for janitorial services to cover their shame. That practice must be a thing of the past if we desire a clean country.
  6. It must be top on our agenda, to ban plastics and or use more friendly versions like the easily degradable ones. Check the picture up there, the gutter is chocking on plastics!
  7. On the issue of recycling, we need to STOP talking and start acting with speed. We need to get the global view on recycling. We need to empower our service providers to have separate collectors for plastics, organic waste and all others. Of course, it makes no sense if I segment my trash at home only for one truck to turn up and jam them all together. That will be painful to watch! And that certainly will not be a good example or motivation for any young soul. The days of putting “borla” together like mixed salad are over. There should be a new dawn from this day!
  8. Can we try a house to house collection of recyclable materials; especially plastics? I know a few people who save used water bottles with the intention of having them recycled. Sadly, they think about the long distance they must travel to get their bottles recycled, fuel, traffic and all, and then they just give up. Next, they dump them with the “kaya borla” guys. The rest is history…
  9. Good sanitation does not come about by prayers. St. Paul said, faith without works is dead! Therefore, if we have agreed to use the first Saturday of every month to clean our nation, why can’t all churches in Ghana support this agenda? I am not talking about word of mouth announcements or pulpit motivationals. I am talking about churches waiting to organise clean-ups during anniversaries and special celebrations. I am talking about churches not positioning All-night services on Fridays preceding #CleanGhana Saturdays. Realistically, if people are tired from all night prayers and signing and meditation, they would want to rest. They won’t be energetic about digging out gutters or weeding. And maybe, if churches would spend even a quarter of the resources they use in rallying souls to church and the strategic publicity for same, we shall win this sanitation war.
  10. Each one, teach one! Let us all be each other’s keeper. If you see your neighbour tossing litter about, gently call them to order. Let them know that they are offending society and the law. If you see them emptying out their bins into a gutter in the rain, let them know they are hurting us all. If however, you are in the habit of doing same, STOP, this very day! Learn and strive to keep your environment clean today and always!

Source: Johnnie Hughes| 3news|Ghana

The writer is Johnnie Hughes, a community rights’ advocate, a sanitation torchbearer and host of Community Connect on 3fm 92.7 on Fridays at 9:00 am

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