Unable to deal with filth and insanitary conditions in many parts of the city, the Akufo-Addo government, through the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), has run to ex-President Jerry John Rawlings, offering him the job of an ambassador to revamp its sanitation campaign.
The ex-president, who the New Patriotic Party (NPP) used to call populist for desilting the Nima and Maamobi gutters in Accra in the 1980s and 1990s, has meanwhile accepted to lead sanitation campaign, which will see individuals, houses, and companies, applauded for keeping their surroundings clean in Accra, while others are punished for living in an unkempt environment.
Another strange thing about the Akufo-Addo government’s job to Mr. Rawlings is that while in opposition Mr. Akufo-Addo and his NPP, refused to participate in President John Dramani Mahama’s National Sanitation Day; which was observed on the first Saturday of every month.
The president was seen in Accra, Tamale, Kumasi, Sogakofe, as well as other towns and cities, encouraging and leading people to clean the environment.
The day was first marked on November 1, 2014 by the Mahama government in response to the 2014 cholera outbreak.
It was a voluntary clean-up exercise for all Ghanaian residents, in an effort to reduce unsanitary conditions that breed diseases and causes injuries.
The National Sanitation Day (NSD) was an initiative of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, headed then by former Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah.
A bill was subsequently sent to parliament by the ministry, it was to give legal backing to the NSD programme, allowing it to prosecute individuals, who refuse to take part in the exercise.
President Akufo-Addo, has pledged to make Accra the neatest and best city in Africa by the end of his first term of office, but it doesn’t look like the NSD law is part of his agenda.
“The commitment we are making and which I want you all to make with me is that by the time we end our four-year term, Accra is going to be the cleanest city in Africa,” President Akufo-Addo stated.
It is clear; it may take a longer period for the dream of the President, to get the national capital rated as the most beautiful city in Africa.
This is because the most populous markets in Accra namely; Makola, Mallam, Kaneshie, Agbogbloshie, and others, have been left unattended to, and these busy markets, are heavily buried in filth, while the AMA, looks on.
Mountainous heaps of wastes are competing for space with sellers and buyers. Plastic and other materials spread at the better part of the market, with very foul smell emanating from it.
From all indications, the refuse has been left there for days if not weeks and as usual, traders are not minding the consequence of spreading their foodstuff next to where they are selling.
Refuse containers are full and beyond their limits. Indeed, what is on the ground is more than what is inside. In fact, from a distance, one can hardly see the huge market from afar, as the heap of refuse compete with traders, buyers, and vehicles for the small space left at the side of the major road.
According to the AMA, Mr. Rawlings was one of the few personalities applauded and awarded for keeping his Ridge surroundings, both inside and outside clean.
At least two companies, whose surroundings have been left messy, have been served a warning notice by the AMA and given five days to keep a clean environment.
Mayor of Accra, Nii Adjei Sowah, who led scores of sanitary inspectors across the length and breadth of the Metropolis, Tuesday, ended up at the Ridge residence of the ex-president and were elated with how he had kept his surroundings.
“We realized that you are not only keeping the inner compound very green, but the outer compound is also very green and the AMA wants to show its appreciation to you by giving you this plaque, which shows that the City of Accra recognizes your continuous effort at ensuring a clean beautiful and manicured surroundings,” he stated.
He pleaded with the ex-president, to accept to be the ambassador of sanitation for the AMA, a position Mr. Rawlings gleefully accepted.
“I certainly will [be the ambassador] and keep up the pressure. Don’t ease up at all. There is a lot of fight ahead of us. When you can’t change people’s habit, change the environment and make them respond to it. It brings about a social sense of responsibility. That is what we need to restore the discipline that we used to be associated with,” the Ex-president said.
The AMA sanitation campaign popularly referred to as the ‘saman saman’ had officials of the AMA going round Accra to inspect homes and offices.
The campaign which was popular in the Kwame Nkrumah regime, somewhat fizzled out and has led to poor sanitation practices.
The new AMA boss, who has a task and responsibility to keep Accra clean, believes the reintroduction of the saman saman concept, will be the best way to solving the problem of poor sanitation in Accra and parts of the country.
In his unannounced visits to parts of the capital, Nii Adjei Sowah expressed reservations about how Movenpick, had allowed its frontage to be used by “Taxi drivers and resting place for all kinds of people. That cannot be allowed,” he warned.
Former President Rawlings, lashed out at Ghanaians for being indisciplined when it comes to sanitation and promised to back the Accra Mayor, to combat the filth that has engulfed the nation’s capital, Accra.
“In our community, we use to have the town council, Police, enforcement agencies and more. Go to the school compound right now, there is not a single policeman, a high sense of discipline is reflected in their compound to look as clean as it does”.
“This affects us in so many ways; if we are to talk about corruption, then sanitation is part of corruption. Let’s take the fight to them for all to see, so as to gain much respect for ourselves and the environment”.