Why is Filth Engulfing Our Nation?

filthOne would think a country like Ghana, which is considered Godly, would hold in high esteem the saying that “cleanliness is next to Godliness” but the exact opposite is what is true of this nation, as filth has engulfed every nook and cranny of our motherland.

Filth in our part of the world is mainly generated by ourselves, after which we turn round to blame others. It is no strange sight to see Ghanaians spitting in public places like nobody’s business.

While food vendors shamelessly sit by heaps of filth to sell, the public also unabashedly patronise their wares with the consolation that ‘African germs are friendly’ when in actual fact what we do, is buy cholera, diarrhoea and the like.

The country spends so much money to fight diseases such as cholera, thus, draining government resources which could have been used in building our badly needed infrastructure.

The Greater Accra Regional Health Directorate recently announced that a total of 6,882 cholera cases and 48 deaths were recorded in the region from January to December of 2012,   as a result of cases of poor sanitation.

Another staggering revelation is that the government spent over $290 million annually in the provision of health care and treatment of affected individuals. This money could have been used in other sectors if basic hygienic rules are followed.

Thinking about it, I have come to realize our problem is sin. Did you know that the result of thousands or even millions of different selfish choices by many, is ‘social sin’? And did you also know that littering the environment is an offence that is punishable by law?

Perhaps you might be thinking that you have been exonerated just because you haven’t been caught yet, but readers will agree with me that about 90 per cent of Ghanaians are guilty of committing its sanitation sins.

On my way to work one early morning, I was met with a ‘flying’ black polythene, locally called ‘wiase mu aye sum’ full of ‘shit’. Yes human excreta.

An amount of GH¢ 15 million is said to have been allocated to the Accra Compost and Recycling Plant (ACARP) by the government. Obviously, the government cannot be dashing out such huge amounts of money for waste management without each one of us making a deliberate effort to keep our surroundings clean.

I am, therefore, very convinced that all our choked gutters are as a result of our sinful nature as a nation. On a recent visit to Dansoman, a suburb of Accra, the stench that filled my nostrils was compelling enough to make me look for its source  only for me to realise that it was emanating from the nearby gutters.

Apparently, someone or a group of people thought it wise to clean the gutters and leave the rubbish along the road. This is a practice that has been adopted by many Ghanaians, as if the rubbish would not go back into the gutters when they dry up as they always do.

One thing that keeps surprising me is the Odawna River that flows through the Kwame Nkrumah Circle. It now serves as a dumpsite for many. Although I have seen how filthy the river is, I was left astounded when recently I chanced upon a sack full of God-knows-what, amongst the numerous waste materials floating on the surface of the river.

My immediate thought was that the culprit might have carefully thought of and planned it enough to have carried out the act without being noticed.

Individuals ignore drains and trashcans and instead pour liquid waste onto the streets and solid waste into water bodies, and expect Zoomlion workers to clean up after them. Even when they decide to use the drains, they manage to choke them with solid waste.

In my vicinity, there were no gutters, and liquid waste was either carried to the junction, or poured into the streets. In recent times, even though gutters have been constructed, it would surprise many to know that people still pour waste liquid unto the streets.
My brothers and sisters who have been defecating in water bodies because they have no where to do it, must desist from the practice. I don’t think it is wise enough to destroy our water bodies in such a manner. Why don’t we sacrifice a few coins and properly dispose off such waste matter, that way, the ‘Oboadee’ will be pleased to see his creation in good shape.

In a recent story in The Spectator, Dr. Anna Buklo Dzadey, a psychiatric specialist in charge of the Pantang hospital, raised concerns about cancer outbreak as a result of the carcinogenic substances emanating from the stench produced by refuse.

While the government is doing its best to rid the country of filth, I am of the conviction that  until we individually have a change of mind and attitude, government and other waste management bodies will be working in vain. You will agree with me that no investor would like to invest in a dirty environment.

The leaders of the country must empower law enforcement agencies to assist citizens in enforcing the laws. For citizens to act effectively, knowing right from wrong, they must be informed. To create the expectation that we desire, we must infuse our citizens with a dose of knowledge and a sense of control if not ownership.

I think it is about time we view Ghana’s cleanliness as a corporate responsibility and not one man’s responsibility. A healthy mind, they say, resides in a healthy body and a healthy body should reside in a clean environment. - Diana Afeku

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