Wednesday, June 11, 2008


MANY residents of Kumasi see the announcement by waste management giant, Zoomlion, that it would soon begin a 24-hour waste collection exercise in Kumasi to rid the city of piled-up refuse as good news.
But on the flip side, the question remains whether the programme can rid the city of garbage and return it to its former glory.
Apart from losing a great portion of its green environment, which undermines the city’s acclaimed image as the Garden City of West Africa, Kumasi, Ghana’s second largest city, has also lost some respect as far as waste management is concerned.
The continuous piling up of refuse at areas such as Ala Bar, Central Market, Asafo, Fante New Town and many other suburbs is very unsightly.
It is true that the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) has been doing some work to improve upon sanitation but its best is not enough. For instance, reports that the assembly owes private waste companies over GH¢7 million in unpaid bills is a minus to it.
Waste management takes the chunk of the resources of the assembly’s revenue. In fact, these days, it is highly impossible for the assembly to use its internally generated revenue alone to finance waste management.
The question of when and how the assembly will get funds to settle this huge debt which has accumulated over a period of time remains unanswered.
The irony of the situation is that the debt keeps increasing every day while the assembly struggles to find the money to pay the contractors.
Kumasi generates about one million tonnes of solid waste every day. The volume of garbage is indicative of the growing population.
The increasing population aside, thousands of people also visit the city daily, compounding the problem. Therefore, the situation will keep worsening by the day, putting more pressure on the city authorities to look for the money to finance the disposal of the waste.
The used polythene bags and other rubbish thrown on the streets from moving vehicles are an eyesore. You dare not question such acts if you are in a vehicle while this is being done, as you will regret it.
Sometimes you will be insulted by these people, some of whom would have the impudence to tell you in the face that you are a villager as if village dwellers are not disciplined.
But I tell you that there is nothing like a villager these days. In the village, the people take delight in communal labour during which time they clear the community of filth.
So who is the villager in this case? Is it the city dweller who drops garbage freely in the city or the rural dweller who always keeps his community clean?
Sometimes I wonder if the first visitor to the city carries along any good image about the city with respect to sanitation.
Kumasi is a city with rich history. It is the centre of culture and tradition in the country. Indeed, it is the seat of the Asantehene, one of the world’s most respected kings. Regrettably, however, some residents are not ready to play to the rules of proper sanitation to give the city the image it deserves.
Moves by Zoomlion to get filth out of the city through the 24-hour collection, therefore, remains a huge task even though the capability of the company is not in doubt.
The situation where the KMA continues to owe contractors will not help. Any strike action can stifle the attempts to bring sanity into the waste management efforts of the assembly. It is, therefore, expected that the assembly will get the necessary resources to meet its commitment to the waste contractors.
The public should also stop dumping refuse indiscriminately. Can’t the assembly enforce its bye-laws on waste management?
Again, the supposed increased private participation in waste management financing for the city seems too slow.
The KMA should expedite action on the programme because there are a lot of benefits to be derived from it.

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