Open letter to President Akuffo-Addo on “Accra as the cleanest capital city in Africa” - You are about to fail on this, sir!
By Ebenezer Annang
Your Excellency, this is one of the many letters I have written to you since you became the president of our great nation, Ghana. I don’t know if your handlers made them available for your read. My last article although not directly addressed to you was titled: “Medical Drones- Yes, But No stakeholder Engagement.”
There is a whole lot of literature written about the sanitation situation of our dear country and I am not about to bore you on those data. My intention is to bring to your attention my frank views about what is failing and offer some suggestions.
A newly created municipality, Ablekuma Central, together with the Church of Pentecost Latebiokoshie district held what they called an “environment care campaign” on May Day. As a citizen and a shareholder to the vision of a cleanest Capital Accra, I participated in the clean up exercise.
The church cleaned the Zongo Market area and some parts of the community of Nmenmeete and Latebiokoshie electoral areas. It was a massive exercise of clearing choked gutters and other debris .The showering rains was not deterrent of our national assignment of keeping our community clean.
The Zoomlion Van was on hand carting the filth and debris collected. The availability of the zoomlion van avoided the usual zero work done when the rubbish returned into the gutters.
My project management study and training has enlightened my understanding to the high cause of failure of many social and other national development interventions on our developmental space.
My point exactly, your Excellency is that, only the municipal boss, Madam Mariama Amui, was present till the completion and addressed the church gathering. However, at one point, the assemblyman for Nmenmeete was present and got lost sooner before the completion of the clean up exercise. The MP, we got to know from his special assistant, had just landed from a travel outside the country and could not attend.
Again, one big surprise was that the people in the communities of these electoral areas -Nmenmeete and Latebiokoshie - were not available to support the clean up exercise!
We can’t blame the communities fully. It was the responsibility of the local government, including the assemblymen to engage the communities by using public address system or any other effective medium to rally the communities, which are stakeholders of the ‘community service call”, prior to the event.
To say that there was a bulletin announcement in front of the Municipal Office is a nonchalant approach and a show of lack of creativity to the fight against filth in our communities when we have a vision to achieve in mind.
Sir, I heard the minister in charge of sanitation and water resources read from a different hymn book from what you have been singing during her time for the Meet the Press series on sanitation. In your recent discussion with a civil society group, you reiterated your point of achieving a “cleanest Accra” in your first term. I must say I see her supposition sign that smacks of playing the normal political games with us.
When the Sanitation and Water Works Ministry was carved out from the Local Government and Rural Development Ministry, some of us thought that perhaps some bold attempt at confronting the sanitation challenge head on had surfaced.
Sir, the apparent lack of verifiable clear-cut roll-out programme and non-availability of metrics to gauge deliverables and milestones of the project/ program activities using a smart approach is making people like me conclude that Accra as the cleanest capital city goal is not achievable in your term. That, to me, is a great worry.
Your Excellency, to reach your vision, of an Accra being the cleanest Capital city and by extension achieving the sustainable development goal six as established by the United Nations, it will take more than a political rhetoric. Achieving positive results will require, for instance, making available resources in a timely, conscious and well-intentioned manner.
Mr president, in my view, we have to do things differently and collaboratively - not what has been the status quo and has not worked for the past 62 years of nationhood, especially in an atmosphere of a highly charged partisanship, where every positive national assignment and interest is seen with partisan political lenses to the detriment of national development.
As a father for all, the onus then lies on your government to find a way to engage all opposition political parties to rally their base to the national call. In this way, they will not only look at the least opportunity to criticise the failure of policies but will feel a part to the Ghanaian agenda.
Mr president, if the other religious bodies and chiefs who have huge following could put action to words and follow the good steps of the Church of Pentecost by supporting the drive to bring change to our communities where they operate, we will be on the path to achieving same.
The media should continue setting the agenda on the sanitation and environmental care; civil society groups should help brainstorm and pile pressure; the academia, student groups as well as all well -meaning Ghanaians should put their shoulders to the wheel in the national interest.
Your Excellency, I see the challenge of sanitation in three areas: public awareness/ public education, inputs/resources and implementation / enforcement of by-laws. The Local Government and Rural Development Ministry and other associated ministries ought to work closely with the sanitation ministry to achieve this ambition, not just in press releases and statements but by demonstrating commitment in action.
If the same zeal and enthusiasm with which people are organised and coordinated for keep fit and exercise sessions by politicians across could be galvanized in same manner, the much needed literate force would be nurtured for cleaner Ghanaian communities.
Mr president, I keep hearing the reintroduction of “Tankassi /Sama-Sama” at least throughout the last five of the 4th republican regime but never seems to get operationalised. I believe when a properly trained sanitation guards are set loose on our communities to help enforce the Sanitation by-laws, and engender a well -literate society that is ready to care and protect the environment and communities, it will go a long way to help us achieve our goals.
In the past administration, there was something called ‘Sanitation Day’ marked every first Saturday of every month which often led to public announcements in the media and key political actors often taking part in the exercise. This seems to have been sidelined to a low profile status.
Your Excellency, what I noticed is that on sanitation days, anyone that opens a shop around Abossey Okai and Kaneshie before the stipulated time of opening is arrested by the local government guards for flouting a regulation and charged with a fine. In order not to be on the wrong side of the law, no one opens and no cleaning is also done.
I wish further, to request that the local government service deploys more innovative ways of engaging its staff at the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assembly (MMDA) levels with focus on the subject matter by offering focused professional training and provide resources timely to help drive down the much needed change in our local governance system for national development.
By this, there should be performance contract and metrics to gauge performance levels, professional training and application of project management practices and techniques which will could be deployed in their day to day activities for the benefit of the communities they operate.
Your Excellency, cleanliness is said to be an attitude of both a culture and a mindset. Therefore, if those driving the agenda constantly take opportunity of every space offered them to be visible in their engagement with the communities and demonstrate focus in my view, your vision- our shared vision of an “Accra as the cleanest City in Africa in a ‘Ghana Beyond Aid”’ era can be achieved.
Ebenezer Annang, the author, is a community advocate
He can be reached at Annan_eben@yahoo.com