Stakeholders at a sanitation forum organized by IMANI Ghana, Tuesday, are splitting hairs over whether to sustain the national sanitation programme introduced by the erstwhile John Mahama administration.
Moderator of the forum and Vice President of IMANI Ghana, Kofi Bentil, insists the programme is counter-productive and cannot be the solution to the poor sanitation problem the country is going through.
But the Sanitation Minister, Kofi Adda, has disagreed. He said the Sanitation programme, even though is not the solution to the poor sanitation, provides a symbolic gesture to get everybody involved in cleaning the country of filth.
The sanitation programme was introduced in September 2012 by the John Mahama administration as part of the short-term strategy to deal with the country’s poor sanitation problem.
The programme was to be driven by the national sanitation task force to be chaired by the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development.
It was held the first Saturday of every month and saw Regional Ministers, political party members, traders, local assembly executives, District Chief Executives all taking part in the programme.
Even though it started well, the programme lost steam at some point.
With the change in government, the Nana Akufo-Addo-led administration does not appear to be interested in the programme.
But with the country’s sanitation problem inching close to national canker, concerns have been raised about the status of the national sanitation programme and whether or not it should be reinvigorated.
At the sanitation stakeholders meeting which saw policymakers, sanitation institutions, individuals, all attending, the status of the national sanitation programme came to the fore.
IMANI Ghana believes the programme is an unnecessary distraction.
Its Vice President, Kofi Bentil, does not see why corporate heads, presidents, doctors, chief executives must leave their offices and enter the gutters or sweep the streets to keep the country clean.
“Communal cleaning, this thing about National Sanitation Day, this thing about getting officers, ministers, civil servants, doctors teachers from behind their desks to clean gutters, streets is wrong. It is bad. It is an example of a failed system. It is a position we hold at IMANI,” he said.
“The cost of getting civil servants from their desks to go and sweep the street is very high… It is a misapplication of resources."
“…If you put a doctor in a gutter and he gets typhoid and dies, that is a waste of a lot of money. Presidents have jumped into and the gutters and for 30 years those gutters are still not clean,” he added.
Communal cleaning should stop because it is not the panacea to the sanitation problem in the country.
He would rather labourers are employed to do the job. He said a country where corporate heads, doctors are seen cleaning the streets is an example of a failed state.
But the Mayor of Accra, Mohammed Adjei Sowah, who was present at the forum, however, disagrees.
“The Chief Executives, doctors, the professionals are all managing offices, public places and their houses. If all of us deal with sanitation issues in our respective offices and houses, half of the problem will be solved,” he argued.
He said it is not a waste of time to tell the leaders to help clean their environment, adding, “It is a way of telling them to wake-up. If you are a leader and you don’t make sure your surrounding is clean then you will be compelled to clean it.”
The Sanitation Minister agreed in part with the view that political heads, civil servants can help in the sanitation fight.
Kofi Adda said he gave an order for leaders in the public service to help clean their surroundings as part a leadership by example gesture to get the surroundings clean.