Monday, May 23, 2016

Supporting the National Sanitation Day - ESPA tricycle scheme shows the way

By Edmund Smith-Asante
 Some members of the Okaikoi South ESPA Tricycle Scheme Association working during the recent National Sanitation Day clean-up in Accra.
 About 90 operators of the Environmental Services Providers Association (ESPA) Tricycle Scheme have pledged their support to the National Sanitation Day (NSD).

The NSD, which is a clean-up exercise observed on the first Saturday of every month, was introduced by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) as part of efforts to improve the country’s environmental sanitation conditions.

Operators of the ESPA Tricycle Scheme turned out in their numbers to support the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) in the May 7, 2016 Sanitation Day in Accra during which they assisted to cart refuse collected from drains and other areas which could not be accessed by heavy duty waste trucks.

The Project Manager for the ESPA Tricycle Scheme, Mr Raymond Ayayee, commended the operators for supporting the NSD.

Mr Ayayee, who also took part in the exercise, said the participation of the operators helped to quickly haul refuse desilted from drains to appropriate sites.

“This is significant since the refuse will not go right back into the drain as has been the case in previous clean-up exercises,” he stated.

He observed that the continuous support of the operators, which was voluntary, would go a long way to enhance the clean-up exercise in the Accra Metropolis.

ESPA Tricycle Scheme
The ESPA Tricycle Scheme, which was launched in February 12 this year, has been designed to regularise the operations of waste collectors in the informal sector by harmonising their activities with those of ESPA contractors.

According to the Executive Secretary of the ESPA, Ms Ama Ofori-Antwi, implementation of the scheme was necessitated by the widespread activities of the informal solid waste collectors, which she said was now well rooted in most of the major cities in the country, particularly Accra.    

She stated that the introduction of the scheme was timely, considering the challenges waste collectors in the informal sector faced with the traditional contractors.

“Their mode of operation brings them into confrontation with accredited private solid waste collectors who have contracts with metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) to provide solid waste collection services.” 

“Now that they are under our umbrella, we have assigned to them areas where they can collect and dump the rubbish,” Ms Ofori-Antwi stated.

Task force
To ensure the successful implementation of the ESPA Scheme, a task force made up of a metro guard, two public health officers and the police has been constituted by the association. The task force is expected to ensure that the operators only collect the refuse from areas assigned to them to avoid clashing with traditional solid waste contractors who already have contracts with the various assemblies.

“Without such measures, the whole idea of regularising the operations of the informal sector waste collectors will be defeated," Ms Ofori-Antwi observed.

About the tricycle
The Tricycle Waste Collector Concept was adopted by Zoomlion Ghana Limited in 2006 when it started its operation in Ghana. The tricycles come with a bucket at the rear and can be use effectively in collecting refuse from residential areas that are not accessible to heavy duty waste management vehicles.

Successful ‘borla’ operators
After three years of ‘Borla Taxi’ business, Mr Bismark Mensah is today the Chairman of the Ga Central ‘Borla Taxi’ Union.  

“Borla business is not embarrassing, and I have no regrets for getting involved,” he told the Daily Graphic in an interview.

Bismark recounted his frustration at his inability to travel back to China after he lost his passport in Johannesburg and how that ‘landed’ him in the sanitation business.

Presently, he has eight motorised tricycles and a Kia truck, and has employed 15 people including operators, a secretary and an accountant.

Busy1 Enterprise, which is the name of Mr Mensah’s company, has an agreement with a traditional waste management company, Asadu Royal, to collect solid waste from areas where he (Asadu) is unable to reach because of the size of his trucks.

In a day, Busy1, according to Mr Mensah, is able to collect from about 500 households and institutions. 

Like him, there are many young people, largely men who entered the ‘Borla Taxi’ business and are thriving.

Mr Kwame Frimpong was also into ‘Made-in-Ghana’ goods but had to divert to the sanitation business following a prophecy from his pastor.

“I was initially not happy with the prophecy and advice from my pastor to move into ‘borla’ business but today I am happy I listened,” he stated.

Mr Frimpong is currently the Chairman of the Ablekuma North Motor Waste Union and has currently employed six operators to whom he pays GH¢30 on a daily basis.

His company, Orlando1, on the average collects refuse from about 100 households at Ablekuma in Accra, with each truck raking in about Gh¢200 on a daily basis.

“I collect about 10 tonnes of refuse a day. This is not scientific but my eight years’ experience on this job helps me to calculate the weight,” he stated.

There are many other young people whose survival today depends heavily on the tricycle business. Mr John Bosco, Chairman of the Okaikoi South Motor Union, Mr Isaac Afful, Chairman of Ga South and Oheneba Adonye Kwame Jumbo, Secretary to the Kasoa Union shared similar experiences.

For these people, the ‘Borla Taxi’ business is more than just about sanitation. “It is about the survival of us the young people because it is creating jobs for most of us” but this is just one side of the story.

Despite the lucrative nature of the business, many of the operators have had series of encounters with traditional solid waste collectors, some of which have been quite unpleasant, a setback that the ESPA Tricycle Scheme seeks to address.

This story was first published by the Daily Graphic on May 23, 2016

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