Saturday, June 11, 2016

Apathy, the bane of Teshie community cleanliness

By Edmund Smith-Asante, ACCRA
The Teshie Sangonaa Landing Beach from a distance
 Approaching the Teshie Sangonaa Landing Bay was a spectacular sight to behold - what some would refer to as picturesque.

There it was downhill; a very beautiful coastline that would be the envy of many Caribbean countries and holiday hot spots around the world.

The scenic beauty was accentuated by the dozens of fishing boats in different colours and sporting various flags that had lined up at the beach because it was Tuesday, a day no one goes fishing in the community.

So the Chief, elders and members of the Teshie community had decided to use the day to clean up the beach and rid it of the tonnes of rubbish that had found its way from other communities upstream such as Madina, Adenta and Legon to the beach.

In view of the volume of work at hand and the lack of logistics, the Teshie community embarked on the clean-up and other exercises in collaboration with the Ledzokuku-Krowor Municipal Assembly (LEKMA) and its hospital, which had an ambulance on standby, and Zoomlion Ghana Limited.

The clean-up, health screening and mosquito-spraying exercises were carried out as part of the Teshie community’s pre-Homowo festival health and sanitation programme.

Some community members at work during the clean up.
As it was the major exercise for the day, the clean-up began about 7 a.m. in earnest with the gathering of rubbish into heaps by generally men, while the women carted them to a waiting dump truck which was provided by LEKMA.

The rubbish was mostly made up of plastic bottles and empty water sachets, as well as other polythene material containing stuff that could be anybody’s guess that had been washed ashore by the sea. Obviously, the sea had rejected the filth that had been washed into it during heavy rains from the drains in Teshie and other communities.

The filth that had been washed ashore painted a ghastly sight of what was otherwise a very beautiful beach that could add to the country’s tourism earnings.

At some points, the community workers and collaborators had to pit their strength together in order to dislodge some undesirable material lodged deep in the beach sand and difficult to remove.

Some fishermen mended their nets during the exercise.
But while others worked, some fishermen also used the period to mend their nets; an attitude the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) of LEKMA, Mr Seth Badu Tawiah, minced no words in condemning.

Laissez-faire attitude
Addressing the media during the clean-up exercise, Mr Tawiah said some community members had attributed the clean-up to politics, hence their refusal to participate.

Expressing a mixture of worry and anger, he said people were doing ‘their own thing’ when the exercise was going on, although the reason for choosing Tuesday was because it was not a fishing day.

However, Mr Tawiah commended the Teshie Traditional Council for initiating the exercise, and said “these are things that the assembly wants to see - a community, or the traditional leaders or a group who wants to perform such activity.”

He said the assembly agreed to take part in the exercise to use it as an opportunity to educate communities beyond Teshie that anything they deposited in the rivers or the sea came back to land on the shore. “So they should stop. It is not helping us,” he appealed.

Mr Tawiah said the assembly had also distributed dustbins to community members to help check littering and had also built eight community latrines to help reduce open defecation along the beach.

“I have arrested and prosecuted about 25 people but they are still doing it and that is a worry,” he said.

However, he believed that with the earmarking of about 500 household latrines for community members at a small cost, the incidence of open defecation would be completely dealt with.

He said a group consisting of eight people had also been constituted to ensure cleanliness of the community and the beach at all times but their work was being hampered by the lack of funds.

Landing Beach
Mr Tawiah said the Sangonaa landing bay had been earmarked by President Dramani Mahama for a landing beach and plans were far advanced for work to begin.

Reacting to the apathetic attitude of some community members to the exercise, the Chief of Teshie, Gbetsorlo Nii Ashitey Akumfra III, said the traditional council would devise effective ways to engage all community members in clean-up exercises.

This story was first published by the Daily Graphic on June 3, 2016

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