BY MUNTALLA INUSAH | firstname.lastname@example.org
THE MEMBERS of the Environmental Service Providers Association and the Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS) have stated that landfill operators may be forced to withdraw their services due to the inability to service equipment.
According to them, the landfills operations are owed more than GHc42 million by the government and that the inability of the government to pay may force the operators to withdraw services due to inability to service equipment required for managing the landfill and to pay workers.
Addressing a joint news conference yesterday, Vice Chairman of CONIWAS,Yaw Atta Arhin, raised concerns about how sanitation issues were being tackled in the country, indicating, “We urgently call on government to pay all outstanding debt owed to landfill operators to ensure the efficient operations of these sites.
“Attention needs to be paid to the expansion of infrastructure. The current infrastructure capacity is fast being exhausted if not already exhausted. Our visit to the Kpone landfill on March 9 shows a facility that is being used beyond its installed capacity.
“The risk of going beyond 20 metres in height is the possibility of a slide due to the unstable slopes. In the wake of the impending (sic) rainfall season and given the current state of the landfill, waste service providers are in grave fear of the potential dangers of the lack of suitable place to dump refuse.
“A situation which makes solid waste management even more difficult and increases the vulnerability of residents to sanitation-related diseases. Going forward, the government, through District Assemblies, would berequired to provide requisite infrastructure comprising transfer stations, recycling and treatment plants, and final disposal facilities in the MMDAs, linked by good road network,” he stated.
According to him, irrespective of our challenges, the private sector has made investments in infrastructure and these facilities are for the public good. We therefore urge government to support existing private waste treatment facilities with financial incentives, including signing off-takers agreements and provision of subsidies.
Additionally, the government should have an appropriate PPP policy for waste management. Government should also support private sector players with payment of management fees for a period of 5 to 7 years during which the private waste management companies would have been able to attain full cost-recovery.
Zero progress in open defecation
According to him, the country has made zero progress in the fight against open defecation and plastic waste management and that in the past years, the fighthad stagnated at 22% since 1990.
While raising concerns on how sanitation issues are being tackled in the country, he said “Currently, less than 2% of the over 1 million tons of plastic that we generate annually in this country is recycled. In terms of liquid waste, access to basic sanitation in Ghana is estimated at only 21 %. In other words only 21% of the population in Ghana have access to improved toilet facilities. The rest don’t have and this is broken down as follows;17% for rural and 25% for urban areas.
”Open defaecation remains unacceptably high at 22%, so 22% of the population defecate in the open on a daily basis. Either they don’t have a toilet facility or they find the open spaces more comfortable to defecate. But whether they find it comfortable or not the country should not make that a safe haven for them.
“In 1990,open defecation rate was 22% ,2011 open defecation rate was 22% ,in 2018 open defecation rate is 22%.So it means that as a country you are not making any progress.”
Private sector participation
On the issue of the private sector participation, he said he had, for more than two decades, been at the fore-front of managing all aspects of waste in the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies(MMDA’s).
“The private sector currently manages 80% of the waste in the country. The private sector is an avenue to reduce unemployment rates in the country. Cumulatively, the private sector in waste management provides over 100,000 direct and indirect jobs across the country.
“The private sector has undoubtedly shown leadership and expertise in the delivery of sanitation services through the introduction of technology. The private sector has also made significant investment in terms of providing waste management infrastructure and logistics across the entire waste management value chain,” he added.
He said while waste management challenges remain a nationwide issue in the country, “the adverse impacts are largely felt in the cities of Accra, Tema , Kumasi, Sekondi- Takoradi, Sunyani, Ho and Tamale.
“Accra alone is estimated to generate about 3,000 metric tonnes of waste a day. Most of this waste is collected and dumped in controlled and uncontrolled dumpsites due to the absence of adequate recycling and treatment facilities and engineered landfills. The whole country has only four engineered landfill sites.
“With regards to landfill operations, few available ones are currently struggling with continuous breakdown of equipment due to huge debts owned by the government. A situation, which has resulted in the landfills acting more or less as a controlled dumpsites.
The current state of our landfills makes them a fire hazard. In 2019, both the Kpone landfills in the Greater Accra and Oti landfills in the Ashanti Region recorded fire outbreaks in July and November respectively.