By Edmund Smith-Asante
It is a hive of activities at the Nsumia landfill site, a spectacle of tonnes of garbage which interestingly does not emit that putrid smell associated with heaps of rubbish.
A compactor is busy spreading and levelling up the mountains of rubbish, while truckloads leave a lot of dust in their trail as they arrive with more solid waste and discharge them onto the already mountainous pile of waste.
At one side, scavengers are busy collecting materials such as plastics and metal, which they deem important to their cause. Meanwhile, some Cattle Egrets are busy feeding on the rubbish heap and flutter away as the scavengers and trucks approach, only to return and settle on the landfill site.
But all activities at the site, in the Nsawam Adoagyiri Constituency in the Eastern Region, would cease in about 15 months, when the landfill would not be able to take anymore waste and would, therefore, be decommissioned, says the site manager of the landfill, Mr Samuel Quartey.
He is, however, confident that another site would be found for a landfill. According to him, his company, Waste Landfills Company Limited, had found two pits with similar capacity around which would be used as landfill once the Nsumia landfill is decommissioned next year.
Touching on what would happen after Nsumia had been decommissioned, Mr Quartey said, “Once the landfill is decommissioned, it is more like we have reclaimed the land, so we can use it for a car park, we can use it for a market or a football pitch. We can use it for a recreational centre...”
The landfill site, an abandoned quarry, the size of the Accra Sports Stadium, was acquired in 2013 but operations began in August 2014. Occupying a space of 22,000 square metres with a depth of 25,000 metres, the site receives an average of 800 tonnes of municipal solid waste and domestic waste from Accra and Nsawam daily.
According to Mr Quartey, averagely 70 trucks dump their waste at the site every day since it started operating about 15 months ago, adding that they were estimating that the landfill would remain in operation for another 15 months.
“When this place becomes full, we have acquired similar pits. This place used to be an abandoned quarry pit and it was filled with water and was killing people, so we had to come in, we took the water out, we redesigned the pit and then we transformed it into a landfill,” he said.
A staff of 25, including bulldozer operators, compactor operators, data clerks, mechanics, janitors, supervisors and security men, work at the landfill, aside from the scavengers who visit the site daily to recover some of the waste, including plastics and metals.
Mr Quartey spoke to the Daily Graphic during a fumigation exercise at two communities sited close to the Nsumia landfill site, Nsumia and Dobro in the Nsawam Adoagyiri Constituency and Ankwa Dobro Electoral Area, last Friday, against vectors that were likely to spread diseases.
The exercise was carried out by Waste Landfills, managers of landfill sites in Accra and beyond, and a subsidiary of the Zoomlion and the Jospong Group of companies, as part of their corporate social responsibility to the two communities.
Mr Quartey said the exercise was carried out once every quarter, to eliminate vectors such as houseflies and mosquitoes among other insects that were attracted to the landfill.
“We are managing a landfill site and technically there may be the notion of outbreak of diseases, so we are carrying this particular project out to counter some of these things that may occur or that may appear in the towns,” he stated.
He added that the landfill itself was fumigated every day against the vectors and the spread of diseases. The garbage dumped at the site is also spread, compacted and covered daily with laterite to keep out stench.
Fire at landfill
The assistant site manager of the landfill, Mr Raymond Otu, said a fire outbreak that occurred at the site some weeks ago was put out by staff in a week with the aid of their bulldozers and excavators, when the fire service was unable to put it out.
Mr Otu said huge cost was incurred in the management of the site, which included maintenance of equipment, spare parts, fuels and lubricants as well as protective gear that ran to about GH¢500,000 every month.
Impact on residents
The Assemblyman for the Ankwa Dobro Electoral Area, Mr Moses Ainoo, expressed his satisfaction with the fumigation exercise and said Waste Landfills had kept their word to conduct such exercise to rid the two communities of the insects that had invaded those areas as a result of the heaps of rubbish deposited at the landfill.
He was also grateful that the strong stench that hitherto emanated from the landfill was no more, due to steps that had been taken by the company.
Mr Ainoo also told the Daily Graphic that a deep pit was left when the Peabo, Ways and Freytag and Taysec companies, which used the site as a stone quarry, stopped operations, and the pit collected water that caused the drowning and death of three males in the community.
A resident of Nsumia, Ms Regina Okine, who spoke with the Daily Graphic, attributed the invasion of mosquitoes and the prevalence of mosquitoes and other tiny insects that inflicted bites on them as a result of the landfill. She also said they had to endure foul smell from the landfill, especially when it rained.
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This story was first published by the Daily Graphic on February 3, 2016