Former President Jerry John Rawlings has taken a swipe at the attitude of Ghanaians towards waste management and environmental sanitation in general, proposing a sanitation vigilante group to address the canker.
Speaking at an annual thanksgiving service organised by Jospong Group of Companies at its headquarters in Accra on Friday, Mr Rawlings said whilst others are busy protecting their water bodies and keeping their environment clean, we Ghanaians are busy littering, asking “what kind of people are we?”
Mr. Rawlings commended Zoomlion and other waste management companies in Ghana but for whose efforts the country’s waste challenges would have hit a crescendo.
He said he remembers Zoomlion’s humble beginnings when they used the manual tricycle to collect waste and how they have evolved from that point to motorized tricycles, to waste trucks, to landfills, compost plants and now a modern integrated waste management system in Ghana, a practice he said most developed countries had benefitted enormously from.
Mr. Rawlings proposed environmental sanitation vigilante groups in every community to be mobilised and given the power to arrest, discipline even before handing over to the security agencies for further action. He believes if properly implemented, the bad attitude of Ghanaians towards the management of waste will be reshaped.
The former president said the complex nature of the waste management problem in Ghana requires not only Zoomlion and the Jospong Group of Companies, but also a concerted effort of all Ghanaians to commit to a clean environment.
“The role of government in ensuring that the menace is confronted in a serious manner cannot be overemphasized. In spite of the roles played by Zoomlion and others in refuse disposal and management business, there are still heaps of refuse, choked gutters, rivers overflowing with filth and our own coastal belt doomed with a sinking amount of waste,” he stressed.
He said available data indicates that an overwhelming 8 million tons of plastic waste has been dumped in the Ocean as a result of bad human attitudes worldwide adding that an epidemic looms if we don’t change our bad and unconcerned attitude – a situation that has affected the marines so much that fishes now eat plastics.
He expressed happiness that the Akufo-Addo government has established the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources to deal with sanitation issues directly and opened up the opportunity for other entrepreneurs to participate in the waste management process, adding that this would engender fair competition, more efficient waste management practices among competitors and value for money in the system.
While government is keen on ensuring our environment is clean, we Ghanaians have to show unrelenting commitment in disposing of our waste properly and desist from dumping refuse into our water bodies, reckless defaecation in our coastal belt and criminal dumping of bucket loads of refuse on the shoulders of our roads by minor waste management businesses and individuals.
This year’s theme is: “The Lord Has Done Great Things For Us (Psalm 126:3)”.
The Chairman of the Pentecost Church, Apostle Eric Kwabena Nyamekye, who preached the sermon, urged Ghanaian politicians to sow seeds in tears for a better Ghana. He said Ghanaians are impatient and we do not want politicians who will make lofty promises and deliver nothing but rather squander our resources that should have been invested for future generations.
He cautioned pastors and men of God who want to be rich and exalted by their congregations to allow God to raise them up and not by themselves.
Executive Chairman of the Jospong Group, Dr Joseph Siaw Agyepong, expressed gratitude to successive governments for the support he has enjoyed from them over the years.
Alluding to the sermon of the day, he charged his management and staff to go out and with a renewed energy and continue to sow precious seeds even with tears in their eyes for the overall good of the country believing that one day, “the Good Lord will turn our fortunes.”