One of the promises that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo made soon after becoming President is that Accra will become the cleanest city in Africa.
The President perhaps made the promise after recognising that the city was facing sanitation challenges.
Indeed, sanitation has featured prominently and it is a promise successive governments have been making and something political parties have stated in their election campaign manifestos.
Unfortunately, progress on sanitation has been far from satisfactory as the city of Accra continues to grapple with filth.
Although the government through the District Assemblies have embarked on various interventions and programmes to rid communities of filth, these have somehow fallen short of expectations.
Both bureaucratic bottlenecks and administrative setbacks, lack of capacity and coordination among local government institutions as well as the availability of funds to implement sanitation programmes have rendered sanitation activities ineffective.
It is against this backdrop that in addition to all the initiatives taken so far, the Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources, Madam Cecilia Abena Dapaah is proposing community service for persons found guilty of some criminal offences to help rid the city of filth.
She proposed that apart from the enforcement of the various Municipal and District Assemblies’ sanitation bye-laws to deal with insanitary conditions, the District Assemblies should also “consider the option of communal labour for the people who flout the laws and impose fines rather than custodial sentences.”
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the Kpone-Kantamanso Sanitation Strategy and Quarterly clean-up exercise by the Kpone Kantamanso Municipal Assembly (KKMA), the Minister, was of the view that communal service by convicts would support efforts to keep the city clean.
The Ghanaian Times commends the Sanitation Minister for the suggestion, although we still believe that we need to do much more to rid the city of filth than we are currently doing.
As a matter of fact, attitudinal change is the biggest obstacle facing the fight against insanitary conditions in Accra.
The nation is engulfed in filth because city dwellers have refused to abide by the sanitation bye-laws and the District Assemblies are overwhelmed by the amount of waste generated daily.
It is estimated that Accra alone generates 5,000 tonnes of solid waste and 3,000 tonnes of plastic waste and, therefore, there would be the need for all hands to be on deck to manage the waste generated in the city.
This means that the desired goal of making Accra the cleanest city cannot be achieved till the time people realise the importance of sanitation and support efforts at keeping the environment clean.
It is therefore, imperative for everyone to support sanitation efforts and to demand action from the District Assemblies to live up to expectation.
We also need to put pressure on the institutions tasked to keep the environment clean to do their job.