A tour through Accra in search of a clean town

refuseIt is not long the sun peeped through the window at the eastern corridor at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, this is without doubt the centre of Accra. It is the home base of both legal and illegal businesses.

On any given day, you will find traders, pick pockets, artisans, and the list goes on. Pedestrians, here, move to and fro like ants on a hill. Indeed the Nkrumah Circle is one busy center.

But underlying all this activity is the issue of sanitation. As the centre of Accra, what can be said of its sanitation? Mahatma Gandhi, while leading a non-violent movement for India’s independence from the British in 1947, spoke about the need to improve hygiene in his country. He said; sanitation is more important than political independence.

Join me as I search for a clean community, starting from here [Kwame Nkrumah Circle].

A road sweeper, Comfort Anaba, clad in a long overall with an Accra Metropolitan Assembly vest over it, holds in her hand a long broom as she sweeps an area close to the Obra Spot.

“As I am sweeping here, I have already finished sweeping under that overhead [she points to the direction of Busy Internet – about a kilometer away]. There is a refuse dump around so we dump the waste we sweep there,” she says.

The place Madam Anaba says they dump their refuse to be collected later by Zoomlion, a waste management company, is a few meters away from the Nkrumah Circle’s Commercial Bank Tower. Sitting close to it is a trotro (commercial bus) station.

refuse2The drivers tell me the stench is a big challenge.

“What you see there, (he refers to a heap of refuse) has been there for over three days now. The stench is unbearable. Authorities must come to our rescue,” driver Abdulai says.

The drivers direct me to yet another heap of refuse close by. This time, it is very close to the Commercial Bank Tower and the New Life Seventh-day Adventist Church.

House flies hover around as food vendors file past the refuse. I speak to this passerby.

“We the citizens as well as the authorities are all to be blamed for this filthy environment. At least, two or three dustbins here will help save the situation and we must not litter anyhow,” says Kwakye Boadi.

Going back to interact with Madam Anaba, she says she feels very worried when she sees people littering indiscriminately.

“It pains me because I will be the one to sweep. When the city gets dirty, we are the ones who will sweep and authorities will say we are not working.”

I have walked round almost everywhere at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle. Sanitation here is nothing to write home about.

From Circle, I toured Tudu, Tema Station, Labadi, Teshie, Nungua, Madina, Lapaz, Mallam and Kaneshie among others. These places like the Kwame Nkrumah Circle are the same. Sanitation here, to put it mildly, is very bad.

At a place like Mallam, food vendors mount their food on very smelly and choked gutters. At Kaneshie, market women who sell on the shoulders of the road mostly do so close to stinking piles of refuse.

It will be no exaggeration to say a falling stone will find it difficult to hit the bare ground at the Tema Station. Almost every space is covered with empty sachet water rubbers and other wastes.

Madam Comfort Anaba wants the hands of the law to apprehend people who litter indiscriminately.

“I want people who just drop waste anyhow be arrested and punished. When the offenders are punished, they will not repeat littering,” she says.

But there are clean places too. I found areas like Ridge, Cantonments, Labone, Spintex and a few more rather refreshing. These places are very neat.

As I bring my tour to an end, I ask myself one question. Do we, as Ghanaians, value sanitation and for that matter hygiene?


Story by Solomon Mensah/3FM/tv3network.com

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