The Head of Drains and Maintenance at the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), Mr Graham Sarbah, has thrown his weight behind the need to ban the use of plastic in the country. Mr Sarbah said plastic waste had become a serious threat to the environment as it was causing havoc to people, communities and the world, hence the need to take drastic actions to curb the menace.
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“The world over, everyone is concerned about the menace of plastic which is taking over the sea or oceans, and in Ghana, it is the cause of many floods when it rains because most drains are choked by these plastics. We will have to do something about it and perhaps, the best way is to ban it,” Mr Sarbah said.
He made the call when he spoke at a Photo Exhibition on Climate Change and Flooding organised by the Regional Institute for Population Studies, University of Ghana in collaboration with the Accra Metropolitan Assembly and the Ga Mashie Development Agency (GAMADA) at Jamestown.
Mr Sarbah, who is also the Coordinator of the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA) Sanitation and Water Project, recommended biodegradable plastics since they were capable of decomposing naturally.
With plastics taking as long as 400 years and more to decompose, he suggested that food vendors could limit themselves to paper bags.
He said, “The plastics we see in our gutters today cannot degenerate and they choke our drains which is not just an eyesore by adding to the littering, but unlike other waste that could decompose and add value to the land, the plastics being used now do not decompose. “However, when biodegradable plastics are used, they can decompose and this will help prevent some of the serious environmental challenges we face.”
The Photo Exhibition, which forms part of a public awareness and community sensitisation project by the Accra Regional Institute for Population Studies through the Cities and Climate Change Project, commenced in May 2019, mobilising 10 young students each from Amamomo Junior High School, Bishop Girls School, Richard Akwei School and Alko International School to take pictures of slums, polluted environment and identify the major causes of flooding in their immediate vicinities.
Vicinities captured by the group of students led by Mr Kporsigbe Philip Kewood include Agbogbloshie Galaway Street, Plantain Market behind Accra Brewery Limited, National Fire Training School, London Market – Jamestown; sections of Ablekumah West, Agbogbloshie among other notable communities were engulfed with plastic waste.
The Director of the Ga Mashie Development Agency, Mr Gabby Nii Teiko Tagoe, said the exhibition would serve as an eye-opener for other basic schools to champion the awareness campaign on climate change.
He mentioned that there was a need for young people to be engaged and to be ambassadors in their schools, homes and communities to help drive the climate change campaign.
Commenting on the key issues of climate Change within the district, the Principal Investigator, Cities and Climate Change Project??? mentioned flooding as a major issue, stating that since the Jamestown community was close to the sea, it was prone to flooding whenever there was high tide.
“High tides tend to inundate the communities and there is a need for us to put in measures to always ensure that our river channels as well as the environment is clean to avoid flooding,” he stated.
He further called on the government to take special planning seriously, adding that there was a need to ensure that laws were enforced to keep our environment clean.
The Accra Metropolitan Assembly also donated 12 waste bins to the schools that participated in the Photo Exhibition Exercise with camera and certificates to the students. The Public Relations Officer of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, Mr Gilbert Ankrah, emphasised on the need for schools to practise waste segregation and to continue creating awareness on sanitation.
Nii Obedru I of the Jamestown stool indicated that waste burning was rampant in the community, stating that there was a need for the Accra Metropolitan Assembly to educate the people of Jamestown on waste burning.