How plastic bags and bottles are chocking Ghana

Accra- Ghana (PANA) -- Plastic waste ranging from wrappers, bags to bottles are a sore site in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, and indeed, the whole country.
But the responsibility of clearing the mess, which is causing an environmental hazard, is still nobody's business, at least that is what it seems to be.
Accra's new Mayor, Stanley Nii Agyiri-Blankson, is putting the responsibility on the doorsteps of the producers of plastic bags, and, especially, companies that produce water in sachets.
"It is their responsibility and they have to help the Accra Metropolitan Assembly to clean the mess," he said.
But the producers say they do not have the numbers, let alone the financial muscle to carry this out.
Blankson is asking the Association of Sachet Water producers to contribute some 400 million cedis a month (about US45,000) to remove plastic waste from the capital city.
But the Association said it cannot.
Out of the 1,500 companies approved by the Food and Drugs Board, only some 70 are active and they alone cannot bear the cost.
It will make them go under.
The country has been submerged by plastics used to carry everything, even beverages, oil and porridge.
Their indiscriminate disposal is a nightmare for environmentalists.
Plastics usually never dissolve and they choking the earth.
They have also blocked drains and gutters, causing unnecessary flooding of urban areas.
Anr attempt is also being made to solve the problem by getting people to collect and sell plastic waste to a company for recycling.
Dubbed "Accra Free of Plastic Waste", the project has a twin objective of ridding Accra city of plastic waste and recycling plastic waste of all kinds.
The programme is being implemented by the City Waste Management Company with the backing of Blankson´s Accra Metropolitan Assembly.
It encourages school children to pick as many plastic wastes as possible and present them to the plastic waste collection point at James Town for a fee.
The company's trucks have a capacity of collecting 1,000 kilos of plastic waste a day.
The plastic waste collected is weighed and the presenter paid 800 cedis (less than a cent) per kilogram me.
Adombire Gheysika Agambilla, Deputy Minister of Environment and Science, said plastic waste had become a prime menace to the environment, hence there was the urgent need to deal with it.
"Until every Ghanaian's heart beats with a will to be clean, the plastic waste menace will grow and choke us," he said.
Dr Agambilla said the Ghanaian government, private companies and individuals must see the plastic waste menace as a major community problem.
A law that required the use of an additive in the manufacturing process of plastic waste and a decision to tax plastic manufacturers and use the money to pay those who collected plastic waste, he said, were some suggestions the ministry had to deal with.
The ministry also suggested that a ban must be imposed on the utilisation of plastic sachets for carrying water or as carrier bags.
Instead, Ghanaian must be encouraged to use recyclable bottles and paper bags.
Blankson argues this would also create employment for people in the city and advised prospective collectors to use gloves.
The scale of the menace requires fast action, but whether this would help is another matter, as many argue that a lot of education of the public about proper disposal of garbage would be the best solution.
But with residents of Accra being notorious for flouting simple regulations of sanitation, the plastic waste problem would be with Ghanaians for a long time yet.

07 april 2005 22:05:00

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