National Democratic Congress(NDC) Member of Parliament(MP) for Hohoe, Dr Bernice Adiku Heloo, has said that poor sanitation in the country is threatening the tourism industry in Ghana.
In a press briefing in Accra last Thursday, the Former Deputy Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation under the John Mahama led NDC administration, lamented over the sanitation problem in the country, especially the capital city Accra and called for a national crusade to rid of the filth.
She explained that, the poor sanitation and unhygienic in the country is not only breeding grounds for diseases, but also a threat to the tourism industry as the beaches and others site scene remained unhygienic.
According to Dr Heloo, sanitation and tourism are synonym are one can not improved without the other and that when foreign investors and tourists would not like to invest or visit a country where they are likely to fall into sickness just a day.
“When you go to other countries, their beaches are clean and neat. You can even sleep on the beaches and that is what tourists like, tourist don’t normally like visiting dirty places and that is why poor sanitation has adverse effect on our tourism industry.”
“I think sanitation in Ghana is currently terrible and affects tourism greatly. For example, if I am a tourist, I will not want to go to a country where filth is everywhere.” Dr Heloo said.
Over the years, Accra city has been synonymous with poor waste disposal. There is prevalence of haphazard dumping of waste everywhere in the city that one would easily think that the authorities are not doing much to solve the problem.
The Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) and its sister municipalities are responsible for collecting garbage and proper management of waste. However, it is common to see heaps of garbage along streets and pathways in Ghana’s capital city. Besides, there is poor disposal of human waste especially in congested areas like slums. As a result people’s health has been at a far greater risk than ever.
This, Dr Heloo said, Ghana might fail the target Goal six of the Sustainable Development Goal(SDG) of the United Nations(UN) which aimed for clean drinking water and sanitation for everyone everywhere.
Sanitation, she said remained a major challenge in Ghana with Accra , Agbogbloshie being one of the most toxic place to the world, as markets, lorry stations and drains all engulfed in filth with unbearable stench.
She added that, in as much as some people take the decision of cleaning the markets by themselves, the issue of poor sanitation cannot be eradicated or even reduced without discipline.
Dr Heloo, who is a member of Environment, Science and Technology committee of parliament, also reminded Ghanaians about the negative effect of sanitation on the June 3,2015, disaster on the nation and called on government to take preemptive measures to ensure that no flood related deaths occurs this year, as the rainy season begins.
While urging government to ensure clean environment, the Hohoe lawmaker, also made some suggestions, including strict enforcement and implementation of bye-laws on sanitation and investment in sustained behavioural change, to avert floods and associated problems.
“The President must make pronouncements related to sanitation on all platforms. The human cost is high as these unsanitary conditions expose us to diseases, death and loss of man hours.”
“Some of us take it upon ourselves to keep our environment clean but people go back to litter these very places. Ghanaians have to be disciplined. That is the only solution to our sanitation problems. Until that happens, sanitation will be poor. So, as we preach good sanitation, let’s also preach discipline,” She said.
She attributed the challenges to inadequate human and financial capacity for sanitation management, insufficient research on sanitation, inadequate funds to pay private waste management companies and inability to effectively monitor environmental sanitation due to the unavailability of accurate data.
Other challenges, she said are the lack of intense and sustained public education on sanitation, inadequate law enforcement, and the nonchalant attitude named “not in my backyard syndrome”, insufficient recycling and waste management plants as well as inadequate inter-institutional cooperation and collaboration.
In her view, “These challenges remind us of the need to prioritise sanitation’ we are where we are because we have not prioritised sanitation management in the country. We have potent environmental laws, plans and policies, which remain on paper because implementation is fraught with many challenges.”
The Minority MP, stressed the need for national sanitation crusade to be intensified with the involvement of all stakeholders, especially schools, churches and the mosques, as well as provision of waste bins at vantage points across the major cities and towns; and the promotion of the use of paper bags and the use of biodegradable plastics.
Dr Heloo, also condemned modern child slavery and said the 1992 constitution of Ghana, the Children Act 560, and Human Trafficking Act 694 all frond on child slavery which has become a global phenomenon with no boundaries.
She stated that, Walk Free Foundation, a non Governmental Organization 2016 report revealed that, about 45.8 million people are living in modern slavery worldwide, adding, “what this means is that out of every1000 adults in the world, almost six are modern slavery.”
The MP therefore called for increased advocacy and support for the Ghana police services and human rights groups to enable the country rid off modern slavery which include human trafficking agents and outmoded traditional believes and values.
She also encouraged all stakeholders to get involved in the quest of making sure that our laws against force labours and other child slavery activities are enforced.
Sources: www.therepublicnewsonline.com/Felix Engsalige Nyaaba