Saturday, October 17, 2015

Building an all-encompassing sanitation empire

By Edmund Smith-Asante, ACCRA
The Zoompak waste transfer station
Until Zoomlion came on the scene in 2006, waste management services and those who engaged in it were regarded with  scorn as if they were engaged in contagious activity.

While working in waste management services in the country may not be the first choice of many, the Zoomlion company’s collaboration with the government and other stakeholders in the sanitation sector has somewhat changed the negative perception people held about sanitation workers and the work of sanitation delivery.

Not only are sanitary workers now well clad in uniforms, they are also equipped with all manner of tools that they need for their work.

In an attempt to follow the exploits of Zoomlion Ghana Limited to identify positive areas for collaboration, the Israeli Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Ami Mehl, in the company of his wife and embassy staff, recently paid a familiarisation tour of some companies and projects being undertaken by the Zoomlion Group of Companies.  

These included the Mudor faecal treatment plant, which is still under construction, the Zoompak Transfer Station at Teshie, which also has the first-ever medical waste treatment plant in Ghana, and the Yeeco Plastics Company in Tema.

Others were a vehicle assembly plant, Universal Plastic Products and Recycling Limited (UPPR) at Borteyman, J. A. Plant Pool Ghana Limited at Dzorwulu and the Accra Compost and Recycling Plant at Adjen Kotoku.

Mudor Faecal Plant
At the Mudor Faecal Plant, the project manager, Mrs Florence Cobbold, said Sewage Systems Ghana Limited was rehabilitating the sewage system built for Accra in the year 2000 by Taysec Construction Company that had broken down after three years.

As a result of that, “the raw sewage from the business district of Accra is pumped here and it flows directly into the sea without treatment,” she said.

She said when rehabilitation works were completed by January 2016; the plant would be able to treat liquid waste into effluent that would meet Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards before discharging into the sea.

Mrs Cobbold said another treatment plant for Nsawam and surrounding areas was being put up at Adjen Kotoku, which would treat about 600m3 of waste a day from 60 cesspit emptiers when completed in about nine months.

Zoompak Transfer Station
The Zoompak transfer station, which was launched in June by the Vice-President, Mr Kwesi Bekoe Amissah- Arthur, manages up to 1,500 tonnes of waste on a daily basis.

The Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Zoomlion Group of Companies, Mr Mohkles Bustami, said the station saved a lot of fuel and other costs and freed the highways when waste trucks made the shorter journey to the station instead of going all the way to the dumpsite or landfills to dump the garbage.

He said the station currently serviced three private companies and received about 100 trucks daily as well as individuals who dumped their waste there for free.  There is also a treatment facility solely for medical waste from health facilities.

Yeeco Plastics, Universal Plastic Products and Recycling Limited
Yeeco Plastics is a company that manufactures plastic carrier bags out of recycled waste as well as plastics for food packaging and waste-bin liners. Universal Plastic Products and Recycling Limited (UPPR), on the other hand, recycles plastic waste from which it manufactures waste bins.

Vehicle Assembly Plant, J. A. Plant Pool Ghana Limited
The vehicle assembly plant, which shares premises with UPPR, assembles trucks, hydraulic dump tricycles and motorcycles, among others, for the Ghanaian market and for export. J. A. Plant Pool, on the other hand, has bonded warehouses that stock bus coaches and earth moving equipment for the construction sector. It also has in stock spare parts for the vehicles in its warehouses.

Accra Compost and Recycling Plant
The Accra Compost Plant is a public private partnership project with the government. It is a fully automated project which cost US$30 million, has a central operation centre and produces compost from 500 to 600 tons of waste from Accra for the farming community on a daily basis.
The Accra Compost Plant is a perfect example of a successful PPP project

Dr Richard Amponsah, the Managing Director of the plant, said the major problem the plant faced was the inability of the Ghanaian public to sort out the waste that was brought there.

Ghana’s MDG achievements
Meanwhile, according to the 2010 Population and Housing Census (PHC) report on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Ghana, published by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) in July, 2013, the MDG target 7B of halving the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water has been achieved ahead of time. Only 15 per cent of the sanitation target of 54 per cent, has, however, been achieved.

The report suggests that the slow progress in improving environmental sanitation and the continued loss of forest cover remains a big challenge. It states that the cost of environmental degradation (lands, forest, fisheries) was pegged at about 10 per cent of GDP as of 2010.

It also maintains that although the access to improved sanitation has been increasing over the years, Ghana is unlikely to achieve the MDG target for sanitation and calls for efforts to quicken the pace of policy implementation rolled out to improve the situation.

The report calls for the urgent need to effect attitudinal and behavioural change in the public through extensive educational and awareness-creation programmes. Ghana’s pervasive insanitary conditions has resulted in the outbreak of sanitation-related diseases that have claimed human lives such as cholera in the past years.

Sanitation-related diseases
In 2014 cholera claimed 128 lives in Ghana and reported cases hit 16,527, the worst in 30 years. As a result of magnitude of the outbreak, the government instituted several measures including the “Sword and Shield” strategy, the adoption of a 100-day contingency plan and the clearing of mountains of filth, some as old as six years.

It is also the insanitary conditions that culminated in the introduction of the National Sanitation Day (NSD), which was kick started by President John Mahama at Sogakope, Vice-President Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur in Accra and the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II in Kumasi, on November 1, 2014 for citizens to clean their surroundings every first Saturday of the month. The NSD, which is led by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural development (MLGRD), completed a monthly regional tour in September 2015. 

Nonetheless, while some of the MDG targets may be missed, it is quite certain that the dual benefits of improving sanitation coverage in the country and offering employment to many unemployed youth through the companies belonging to the Zoomlion Group of Companies would change the story under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set to roll out after the MDGs. 

This story was first published by the Daily Graphic on September 17, 2015

GJA 2010 Award Winners

GJA 2010 Award Winners
Dzifa, Emelia and Gertrude

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GJA 2011 Award Winners
GWJN's 2011 GJA Award-Winning Team

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New WASH-JN Executives
They are from left - Edmund, Ghana, Aminata: Guinea, Alain: Benin, Paule: Senegal and Ousman: Niger

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Celebrating Award
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In a pose with my plaque