Sunday, July 5, 2015

Chorkor beach turned dumping ground for refuse, human excreta

By Edmund Smith-Asante, ACCRA

Filth along the Chorkor beach

Chorkor, a fishing community in Accra, is an ugly scene of heaps of refuse and human excreta wrapped in black plastic bags and scattered around, which emit foul smell.

The mounds of filth sitting very close to dwelling places, are seen along the beach giving an image of one huge rubbish dump site.

To make matters worse, some members of the community use the beach as a place of convenience in spite of the availability of public toilets in the area.

As one approaches the beach, a foul smell fills the air and soon the one is confronted with ‘the horror of horrors’; a long line of rubbish heaps along the beach with pigs and other livestock feeding on the gabbage as house flies hover all over the place.

This was the scene that greeted journalists on a tour of the community on Thursday last week. The visit was part of a two-day cholera sensitisation workshop organised by the Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorate (EHSD) of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.

The community itself is very dense with few access routes apart from a main road that runs straight to the centre of Accra.

Lost battle?
In answer to queries from the journalists, a visibly worried Mr James Goliathly, a community volunteer, said several attempts had been made, over the years, to get the community to conform to sanitation practices, including the stoppaing of open defaecation at the beach, but all had fallen on deaf ears.

He blamed the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) for looking on unperturbed. He complained of apathy on the part of members of the community and said the behaviour of the people had forced members of a volunteer group in the community to give up.

“I can’t stop them from defaecating in the open and dumping refuse at the beach. That is the work of the assemblyman,” he said.

Speaking in the Ga language, he retorted, “ For us in Chorkor everybody does what he or she pleases.

“Everybody defaecates on the beach, though we have been asked not to do so. I also do it on the beach and in the public latrine as well. Why will I also not do it at the beach when I see others doing it there?

“When we have leaders who do not care whatever happens, we will all engage in open defaecation,” Mr Goliathly said.

He said politicians had for many years been promising to solve the problem of open defaecation and difficulties with the proper disposal of refuse, but they all ended up not fulfilling their pledges.

According to him, a contributory factor to the insanitary condition was the lack of refuse containers in the community. He said a container that was provided the community sometime ago was removed and never returned. He also said that some people in the community went to the beach to attend to the call of nature because they could not stand the long queues at the public toilets, particularly in the mornings.

Official response
The Ablekuma South Sub Metro District Environmental Health Officer, Mr Robert Torgbor, who was on the trip with the journalists, said the refuse container had been removed by the waste management company in charge of the area because an attempt to register households for rubbish collection did not work.

According to Mr Torgbor, considering the poor sanitation in the community at the moment, he was hopeful that the residents would welcome any move to help resolve the matter.

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This story was first published by the Daily Graphic on June 29, 2015

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