Accra, the cleanest city in Africa?
Accra as the capital city of Ghana,which was formerly known as Gold coast is one of the cities one will wish to visit if they hear of Africa.
The official capital city of the good people of Ghana is one of the coolest in the sub region but lacks the ability of sanitation due to over population and urbanization .
The first thing one will be welcome with to this city is the filthiness,smell of over-congested gutters ,packed refuses on the streets.
For decades now, Accra would have been a serious contender for the title of “the dirtiest and darkest city in Africa” if such a competition had been held. We, the residents of Accra, have been engulfed by, and buried in, garbage for decades.
The refuse is everywhere: markets, lorry stations, street corners, roadside, etc. As if that is not enough, herds of cattle, flocks of sheep often led by shepherds, goats, and donkeys, are found in every corner of the city, including some of the high-class areas.
Pigs forage for food on the refuse dumps, chicken go on free-range, stray dogs freely roam our streets, causing rabies and eventually deaths of unsuspecting citizens.
Our gutters, streams, lagoons and water bodies are still choked with garbage, plastic bottles and sachets, solid and liquid waste and faecal material, emitting a foul stench and causing diseases.
Many residents defecate openly every day on our beaches, in gutters and other public places as if it is the most normal thing on earth! No wonder cholera is back with a vengeance, afflicting over 20,000 people in 2014 across the country and causing over 200 deaths that year alone. Individuals also regularly throw litter from moving or stationary vehicles.
There are alot of heaps that shows a bed of plastic waste in an open gutter at the ring road central area. While it poses great danger especially if there is an outpour in the area, it also raises concerns about what government is doing to keep the city clean and indeed if their quest to make Accra a beacon of cleanliness will become a reality.
Other matters relating to the filthiness of the city of Accra
There are many other matters related directly to the cleanness of a city. One of them is the darkness of the city: Accra in the night is perhaps the darkest in Africa.
The darkness of the city at night allows hoodlums and criminals of all sorts to operate freely with little or no hindrance at all. With virtually no police presence after 5 p.m. (except for the occasional military/police patrols) criminals virtually have a field day at night.
Contrast that with Addis Ababa where the streets are well lighted and there is a policeman almost every hundred metres.
Another issue of concern is the chaos on the streets of Accra which one cannot divorce from cleanliness. The crusade to clean up Accra should be linked with the effort to bring sanity into the traffic situation of the city.
The generalised practice by which motorists create six to 10 lanes, instead of one or two and so the traffic is blocked for hours; the current practice where motorcyclists ride on the wrong side of the street and in the opposite direction, with utter disregard for all traffic regulations, often with the police looking on; this trend needs to be stamped out.
Yet another related matter of concern is the perennial floods which result in havoc as humans and animals get drowned, and vehicles, kiosks etc. are carried away as in the tragedy of June 3, 2015 in which over 200 people reportedly lost their lives.
On the 7th January,2017 during the sworing -in ceremony of the President of the Republic H.E Nana Akufo Addo at the Independence Square ,he has assured the good people of the Republic that the capital city will be the cleanest city to be talked of in Africa but it is rather just a common statement the President made without proper implementation and supervision to ensure that his statement works .
For the President’s avowed goal to be fulfilled certain conditions must be met. It is expected that a high-powered inter-ministerial committee (comprising the relevant MDAs and MMDAs), chaired by a very senior minister, is by now in place, which has developed a Strategic Plan and which should have been rolled out by now, to be operational beginning early this month and end by June 2020.
It is hoped that such a plan would include about six months of intensive public education on all aspects of the plan, especially the role of residents, the benefits they (and the entire nation) would derive from it, the sanctions for breaking the bye-laws, etc. It is also hoped that the required resources are being mobilised and the fine details have all been worked out.
Again, it is expected that the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) and its satellite assemblies are engaged in drawing up their programmes and the working relationship with the garbage collectors, as well as the contracts to dispose of the garbage.
Thereafter, the rest of the plan should be implemented vigorously and energetically.
Penalties for littering and other offences should be so severe as to serve as an effective deterrent. By December 2019, Accra should be spotlessly clean, such that anyone walking or driving through the capital should not see even a piece of paper anywhere. We might as well be walking or driving in Geneva or Singapore.
Such efforts must be sustained thereafter by every government.
In 2003, the then Head of the Civil Service decided to rid the ministries area and its environs of all unauthorised structures, food vendors and sellers of all types of items, hawkers, loiterers, etc. He was so successful that from the VRA head office to the Tema station, through the SSNIT head 0ffice to the end of the FAO-Accra Ridge Church street, the nuisance from these peddlers ceased completely while he remained in office.
What the Head of the Civil Service did in the ministries area, the President of the Republic, clothed with all the authority of the state, can do in the city of Accra; besides, President Akufo-Addo is proving to be a man of his word and is capable of ensuring the fulfillment of his promise; moreover, the earnestness and zeal with which he has set out to achieve his previous promises, gives us the confidence that he will keep this one also.
The commitment I want to make, and for all of us to make, is that by the end of my term in office, Accra will be the cleanest city on the entire African continent. That is the commitment I am making to you.”
This declaration was made by President Nana Akufo-Addo during the durbar organised in his honour by Nii Kojo Ababio V, James Town Mantse and President of the James Town Traditional Council on April 23, 2017. I was not sure but yes, I heard right.
My excitement was boundless and I expected Ga traditional and opinion leaders, religious leaders as well as captains of industry, etc. to be equally thrilled.
For, if Accra attained that feat, she would enjoy a new status world-wide and the benefits for residents and Ghanaians as a whole would be immense, indeed incalculable!
By this declaration, though, the President was setting himself a most daunting task. It is, perhaps, the most ambitious and most audacious of all his goals!! Without doubt, there are many who are skeptical about the realisation of such a vision. I am one of those who dare believe it is achievable for three reasons.
The audacious vision that the President has of Accra being the cleanest city in Africa is one that all residents of the city, nay all Ghanaians must buy into, own, and strive to contribute to achieve.
The benefits that would accrue from the fulfillment of that dream for tourism, productivity, health and well-being, etc. would be huge and beyond the imagination of most residents of the city, and most Ghanaians. We pray for it and look forward to the attainment of that vision.