‘FREE RANGE’ AND MATTERS ARISING

IT might sound shocking, but the news that many Ghanaians lack toilet facilities in their homes is a stark reality.

It is estimated that nationwide, only 15 per cent of households have toilet facilities or latrines, 46 per cent of them actually communal or shared.

Statistics also indicate that about 16 per cent of households use other (varying) means of defecation, while as much as 23 per cent defecate at the beaches, refuse dumps and other open spots, a practice usually referred to as “free range”.

It is quite worrying that Ghana which prides itself as the beacon of Africa, should still be wallowing in such deprivation of social amenities.

Nobody can gainsay the fact that health, sanitation and availability of places of convenience are among the criteria used to assess the extent of a nation’s development.

Indeed, as the Programmes Officer of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Kweku Quansah, succinctly puts it, “Environmental sanitation is a critical driver of national development…”

As he explained at the meeting with the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, the current environmental situation is definitely having a negative impact on health, education, tourism and productivity, indeed, on the economy in general.

It is no wonder the nation is now battling with cholera, a result of the insanitary conditions stemming from the people’s “free range” and the indiscriminate disposal of faecal matter into gutters, open drains and even water bodies and courses.

The Times believes the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies have failed woefully, in the discharge of their responsibilities to the people.

This is because they have not ensured that every household has such basic facilities as toilets and washrooms to guarantee the people, good health.

The Times recalls that a few years ago, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly ordered all landlords to construct toilets in their houses, or be prosecuted.

One wonders what happened since then, for if the Mayor, Alfred Oko Vanderpuije, had made good his threat to prosecute recalcitrant landlords, the Accra metropolis would not be at the mercy of cholera at such alarming proportions.

It is high time those at the helm of the Assemblies, began tackling the problems besetting the communities, especially in the areas of health and environmental sanitation.

It is a big shame that in this 21st century, Ghanaians should still be going “free range,” especially in the capital city. This should stop immediately!

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