Mr. Speaker, I rise to make a Statement on waste management in Ghana. Environmental sanitation has assumed a disturbing dimension and trend in recent times. These days, it is a matter of course not only to read about the worsening situation in the local dailies but also to actually see the deterioration in environmental sanitation in the communities in which we live, whether in Accra, Kumasi, Wenchi, Bolgatanga or Wa. The filth and dirt can now be found all around us almost everywhere in Ghana but in particular, the major component, waste management, has taken an unacceptable trend over the last five years.
The situation in the urban settlements has been aggravated by the rural-urban drift which has increased population in
the urban areas and the major cities of Accra, Kumasi and Sekondi-Takoradi in particular. Other major contributory factors include the lack of capacity to control development and provide municipal services by the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies in the country and the abysmal attitudes towards personal hygiene and sanitation practices of low- income and high-income communities, individually and collectively.
The current situation in the waste management sub-sector of environmental sanitation in our capital city, Accra and other urban centres is no reflection at all on the efforts that have been made in the past two decades. So much has been invested in the sub-sector through urban projects funded with huge loans, assistance from the World Bank, the European Union, the UNDP and other donor governments and agencies.
In 1985, the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany set the tone with financial and technical assistance for the revamping of the previously fragmented institutional arrangements to set up the first Waste Management Department in the Accra Metropolitan Assembly as the lead entity for the waste management function in the capital city. Accra was able to re- equip and re-organize to deliver services in solid waste collection, improvement in the management and operation of public toilets and public cleansing, involving street sweeping, drain cleansing and grass cutting.
Other infrastructure, namely, storm drainage construction, rehabilitation of roads and roadside drainage networks were provided to improve on sanitation and the protection of public health against communicable diseases. It is therefore with a heavy heart that I wish to make this Statement to assist Parliament, the Government of Ghana and the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies to put in place immediate
remedial strategies and actions to arrest the deterioration and reverse the trend forthwith.
To address the current deteriorating environmental sanitation in general and waste management in particular will require pragmatic steps to re-invigorate the District Assemblies, re-organize the institutional structures, recruit professional and technical stall and build capacity to deliver service and source funds adequately to finance all activities.
Mr. Speaker, when the Waste Management Department of the AMA was established in 1985, it was mandated, with the full support of the Assembly, to design and implement its own programmes and services, and was permitted to operate a separate bank account into which revenues, although inadequate to meet all expenditures accruing from its services, were lodged.
With the necessary controls in place, the Waste Management Department used the revenues exclusively to meet part of its operational costs, making it an easier burden for the Assembly to top it up. This it did with income from the fees and charges collected from the services and the expenditure incurred in the delivery of those services. This arrangement made adequate funds available for waste management regularly and punctually.
Mr. Speaker, this arrangement has been stopped for no apparent reason, and waste management is now competing with other services, but from a weak position of a low priority rating. Services are now by and large delivered by the private sector waste management companies. The infant waste management industry of the economy of Ghana is now in the hands of the private sector, which is ill- equipped, and operating with over-aged vehicles and equipment, and seriously lack
the technical, managerial and financial capacity to deliver effective and efficient waste management services.
As if that is not enough, we have lost the ability to enforce rules and regulations to check deviant conduct and failure to maintain clean and healthy surroundings. The bye-laws are asleep, as it were, and need to be woken up, dusted, updated and enforced to ensure compliance with sound sanitary practices to assist the Assemblies keep towns and cities clean, salubrious. Whether the Assemblies have the political will to do so it another matter. The AMA, for example, has won two or three important court decisions, which, if implemented, would go a long way to mitigate the unacceptable sanitation situation in the capital today.
Mr. Speaker, waste management departments must be established in every Metropolitan and Municipal Assembly and sanitation departments in the District Assemblies without any further delay, and efforts made to staff them with skilled and well-motivated personnel. I can assure you that unless and until the Assemblies are appropriately staffed and complemented by a well-motivated work force, effective and efficient waste management will be a mirage.
The private sector should be supported to procure appropriate and adequate waste management vehicles and equipment. Government and Parliament must look again at the schedule of taxes and duties on vehicles for the sub-sector with a view to their reduction to enable them buy new vehicles and not second-hand vehicles. The multiplicity of duties, taxes and levies on imported equipment for waste management only succeed in flooding the country with vehicles already past their economic lifespan and will be operated at high costs, high unreliability and low availability for service delivery.