In commemoration of the first anniversary of the June 3rd twin fire and flood disaster at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, six statues made of plastic waste have been mounted in front of the Goil Filling Station.
Attracting a large crowd, the statues which comprise a giant fireman carrying a woman in his arms and four other bodies, all made of plain and black plastic waste materials, tell the story of the disaster.
The giant fireman is made of plain rubber with shiny jewels depicting tears, while the woman is made of black polythene which symbolically represents a woman burnt to death as a result of the fire.
Two plain bodies represent a woman and her child, who were drowned and two other statutes made of black and white rubber which symbolise half burnt bodies. The statues are lying in a pile of white rubber which represents the flood.
The metal fence which seals the filling station from the public was covered with inscriptions which read, ‘Don’t throw refuse into gutters’, ‘Our Gutters are not meant for solid waste’, ‘Dirty cities are made by dirty people”, “Waste management is everybody’s business’, among others.
Speaking to The Ghanaian Times, Faisal Dauda, the artiste behind the exhibition disclosed that, his aim was to sensitise Ghanaians about the need to recycle plastic waste and assist in the sanitation menace in the country.
He revealed that after the twin disaster, he conducted a research into the various things plastic waste could be used for and what benefits the country stood to gain if the initiative was adopted.
According to him, through his research, he discovered over 1000 ideas from which plastic waste could be recycled into for interior and exterior decorational purposes.
Mr. Dauda said he decided to launch a campaign to train victims of the disaster who have lost their source of livelihood since the disaster occurred to create items for decoration with bottles, plastic bags, car tyres and other waste materials.
H e said that his interaction with some of the victims revealed the fact that most of them were being discriminated against due to the burns they sustained.
Mr. Dauda said that he intends to assist them create a livelihood of the decorational items they would make from the plastic waste which he would make available to hotels and organisations.
He said that he would take his campaign to schools and teach students how to dispose of waste properly and how to make items from plastic waste.
“If we are sensitised about the value of plastic waste in Ghana, I don’t think we would dispose of waste indiscriminately,” he said.
Mr. Dauda said though there were several recycling companies in the country the issue of recycling in Ghana was a huge problem.
In his opinion, his campaign would help to reduce the congestion of gutters with plastic waste washed out of gutters after heavy rains.
Mr. Ibrahim Yahaya, a trotro driver and a relative of a victim, called on government to ensure that appropriate measures were taken to dispose of waste and construct adequate drainage system in flood prone areas.
Mr. Yahaya said that property and lives would be preserved, if laws were adhered to and building in waterways was stopped to enhance the flow of water.
According to him, he was present when the disaster occurred and recalls that the Odorna River had overflown its banks resulting in the flood.
He advised the public to adopt proper ways of waste disposal, adding that indiscriminate disposal of plastic waste was one of the causes of the flood.
Another relative of a victim, a widow who spoke to The Ghanaian Times on condition of anonymity said that she had lived at Circle for 24 years and have never experienced anything such as a twin fire and flood disaster, which took the life of her husband.
“Government must as a matter of urgency reconstruct drains at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle that have been choked with filth and also ensure that fuel stations are sited at the appropriate places,” she said.
She said that they had not received any assistance from government after losing their relatives until two days ago, when they were called by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) and given some money but did not disclose the amount.
She said her husband was the breadwinner of the family and was finding it difficult to cater for her children.
Madam Sadia Alhassan said that most people who had survived the disaster have stopped selling around the area since most of them were traumatised.
He said that survivors have resorted to other forms of earning income and that whenever the clouds gathered the few of them who still sell in that area live out of fear.
He said that although business was still picking up it was not as brisk as it used to be and lauded the initiative of the young man who had erected the plastic statues in memory of the victims.
By Emelia Enyonam Kuleke and Dennis Amedege