Who will fix the Accra floods?

The issue of floods in cities and towns is becoming an annual ritual whenever there is rain, no matter the intensity. The memories of last year's June 3 flood and fire disaster are still very fresh in our minds. But it seems the only lesson our leaders have learned from this gory incident is how to blame the populace and make them feel guilty while exonerating themselves.

The authorities, responsible for making sure this problem gets solved are always quick
to push blame on citizens for being 'irresponsible' with the way they handle the waste. They say we throw waste in drains and litter the streets. They say we are not patriotic. They say we will be those to suffer and die from the effects of floods and unsanitary environments. The care less if have a means of disposing of our waste responsibly.

Truth is, leaders who are supposed to fix this problem keep shifting the goalpost and the problem never gets fixed as a result. Citizens actually show bear responsibility by cleaning their homes and surroundings but have no proper waste disposal system. The waste so collected is then left to scatter back into clean spaces. De-silted drains are choked again because the silt is left at the edge of the drain. The drains are not even large to handle a large amount of water.

Leaders are interested in taking tours around the city after a rainstorm and making wild promises about fixing the situation. Nothing concrete actually gets done about it, and the next time it happens they are quick to embark on another tour of the city without any shred of shame.

Initially, waste bins were provided by a waste collection company (Zoomlion) to households to prevent people from dumping refuse in drains. This noble idea, however, became ineffective as the company placed profits over responsibility.  People paid for their waste to be collected on a monthly basis but over time, the lackadaisical attitude of the waste collection company created disinterest among patrons. Sometimes the waste overflows the bins and is left there for weeks. When they are called, all manner of excuses is given with a promise to come for it before dusk. They never show up. When the month is about ending, they begin to come around for it and remind you to pay your fees as soon as possible. After getting you to pay for a month's service, the situation replays itself.

Hence, people are forced to dump waste in any available space they can find outside their homes, including waterways. The end result is the annual flooding that has plagued the capital city and other cities and towns for some years now.

The Way Forward

It has been reported several times how our landfill sites are filling up every day with waste. I see this to be one of the reasons why people's garbage doesn't get collected. But is that the best way to treat waste in the 21st century? Examples abound of how people are making it big with waste in areas of energy. Yet, Ghana is seeing it as a curse! Yet, we are polluting the air and depleting the ozone layer further with our continuous incineration.

We have leaders who only think about their generation and not the one after them. Recycling of waste is not in our national development plans. If we have forward-thinking leaders who have a will, Ghana could have augmented her current power shortages with power from waste. But no, they want to win elections at all cost and govern people through either fair or foul means. They care less what the needs of the people who voted for them are.

We will, therefore, have to wallow in our waste until a leader one day decides to think straight and takes a bold decision to end flooding in our cities and towns. Yes, we have to fast and pray that God gives us such a leader one day by helping us to change our attitudes towards politicians and politics. Until we are able to vote using our heads and not our hearts, we will have to continue to die from diarrhoea, cholera, typhoid and bilharzia due to our waste.

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