In Ghana, all things are possible. You doubt that? Yes, all things including seeing your confidential document with a groundnut seller. Well, if you want a copy of a public document for example, just buy some ‘Kofi brokeman’ and chances are that, that document is the wrapper. I bought some roasted yam within last week and voila! In there was a document from the National Labour Commission.
Infact, I have taken this up as a research project and I have found all kinds of documents used to wrap ‘bofrot’, bread, fish, tomatoes and in some cases used as toilet papers in some public places of convenience. You may do your own checks from now.
This brings up the question of managing public documents and the issue of disposal of documents. We handle the disposal and management of public documents the same way as we handle general waste with reckless abandon.
If organizations no more have need for certain documents like pay slips, official correspondences like internal and external memos, appointment and dismissal letters, minutes from board or Exco meetings etc can’t they have an effective archiving system to manage them than give them away to all kinds of vendors? If that is not possible, how about shredding them?
It is even prudent for organizations to have shredders as part of the office accoutrements to deal with the effective management of such important documents. But do we care?
Infact, I wonder why waste management is not an issue in this year’s campaign. I guess it’s because, we have decoupled poor sanitation from the issue of health. If we agree that poor disposal of waste is linked to fertile grounds for breeding mosquitoes, and mosquitoes can cause malaria which could lead to death, what must be the foremost step to take to safe guide our health?
Should the equation be; provide health facilities-spend money to stock them with anti-malaria drugs-let mosquito bite the citizens and fall sick-bring them to the hospital-provide treatment-let some get well-let some die-and let the cycle continue?
Or it’s better rather to clean the environment to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes and to save the people from falling ill so that the money spent on treatment can be channeled into other things? Better still, are we not ashamed as a country that is often engulfed in filth?
The other day, almost the entire Kaneshie market and its immediate environs got inundated by so much filth that I saw some foreigners taking pictures and some chaps chasing them away. I asked the guys why they were preventing them from taking the shots and they said, it was to prevent them from ‘disgracing Ghana abroad’. But who cause am? Didn’t Chenu Achebe say that it is he who brings the sugarcane to the house who brings the house flies home?
The thing about waste management is that, when well handled, it has a lot of rippling results. Apart from breathing fresh air and protecting the well-being of the citizenry, jobs will be provided. Look at how Zoomlion has provided jobs at the lower ends across the country.
If we really handle the issue seriously where we begin to truly manage the garbage and not just do dumping and calling it management, we will begin to let households do separation of their different wastes; plastics, metals, and other bio-degradable materials like cassava and plantain peels etc into proper recycling processes then we will make some headway.
Our current situations of using landfill sites and polluting the immediate communities like we have at Abokobi and other places for waste disposal must be seen as a national shame as we keep training engineers who should have various ideas about ways to tackle the menace. All we do is just discuss the issues in the media and as usual keep seeing garbage piling up in our markets and communities but practically take no steps to fix the problem permanently.
In this period of parties sharing their vision, let’s make this one of the issues for the parties to tell us what practical steps they will take to resolve this issue which brings health challenges of great proportions like cholera and also chokes our gutters to bring us floods with dire consequences.
A week ago, a radio interview with an official from Rwanda got many Ghanaians talking about how in that sister African country, there is a zero tolerance for indiscriminate waste disposal among others. Suddenly, Rwanda became the point of reference for good leadership on the continent. But I dare say that it’s shameful because we were in the post-independence era the iconic nation not only in Africa but to all emerging nations.
So at what point did we lose it?
By Kojo Ackaah-Kwarteng
Head of Station, Onua 95.1FM