It is extremely disheartening and heartbreaking to walk past and through filth, almost every step one takes through town these days.
Our streets have become rubbish dumps as many Ghanaians have decided to make this happen.
While the few complain about it and try in their own different ways to solve this canker, the larger population fails to recognise this.
They would only sit back comfortably around a gutter, filled with filth to sell their wares, or openly defecate at a close by landfill site, or better still, fly the sachet water or bottle they just drank from, into the air to land, only God knows where.
You dare not act like ‘Miss Hygiene’ or ‘Mr. Perfect’ by asking in a polite manner for them to pick it up. You will end up being asked the silliest of questions; “Is this where you lay your bed? or informally ‘Do you sleep here?’, ‘Does the place belong to your father or mother?’.
The mere display of ignorance, disrespect for authority; for after all, ‘who is the authority and what can they do to me’? (The thought running through their minds).
Some may end up throwing tantrums, and this may end up in a fuss.
Cries from the media, government and stakeholders, among others on the issue of good sanitation have fallen on deaf ears by the indisciplined Ghanaian! All efforts look as though one pours water on stones.
Most men can be seen unzipping just by the highway to unleash their built-up urine just anywhere they deem comfortable.
Lapaz is one vicinity to spot such interesting scenes.
One encounter was with a man who unzipped right by his parked car along the N1 stretch close to the bus station.
Another one did not bother about passers-by but only had to release it through a small opening in the gutter along the said road.
Another scene had to do with a driver who couldn’t wait but left his car in the traffic since the urine seemed unstoppable, spotted a gutter in front of a shop, and let it out. The examples are many.
Now, therefore, Mr President, I recommend the only solution we have not ventured into is to bring “Tankass” back! Town Council, informally known as Tankass or ‘Samansaman’, which served as the ‘hygiene police’ and kept our folks on their feet, and provoked the fear of being summoned at the court should be enforced again.
The very name that shook our parents to tidy up the house to look squeaky clean, the very name that caused people to clean their rooms and compounds, the very name that moved our mothers to empty the fully packed bins full of waste!
That’s what I’m crying out for.
It is the key to help cleanse our minds, hearts and attitudes to help achieve the goal of making Accra the cleanest city.
Deploy men, preferably soldiers who would mete out outright punishment to unscrupulous individuals who decide to make the streets their dumping sites, while there are bins right under their noses.
They should whip them as much as possible, both men and women, who take to urinating along the roads and routes, leaving places smelly. We cannot ignore the day to day visit of homes to ensure good sanitation and cleanliness.
In fact, it will be an utter disgrace to such homes that would wait until these men barge in on them to keep their homes tidy.
Gather these culprits and punish them severely until they never forget.
I’ll recommend a few corporal punishments for those who fall victim; gather them to clean the streets, desilt gutters, work tirelessly and to the extreme, pay a fine, to serve as a deterrent to subsequent culprits.
Mr President, making Ghana clean does not only come with monthly clean-up exercises, symposiums on their repercussions, among other such activities.
I can boldly attest to an incident that happened during a Water and Sanitation Hygiene -WASH Campaign that was organised by my company, Global Siders at the Tema station in Accra.
Some of the traders and drivers appreciated our effort to help clean the place.
However, one fine gentleman only had this to say; ‘As to making Ghana clean, I don’t think we can achieve it yet, I only think it is the next generation, that is our children and their children, who can do this’. He said this in a local dialect and my colleagues and I were highly disappointed and amazed at such level of ignorance and immaturity.
I may sound harsh; however I mean well. The Utility Principle of media law has taught that, seeking the greatest good to the greatest number should be the guiding principle of any human action.
This is what I seek; that someday we can boldly stand tall as we walk through our towns and cities, but not wave at black polythene flying in the air around us, or walk through piles of rubbish on our routes home, or step in cow dung and take it into our rooms and offices.
We would also free ourselves from the repercussions of unkempt surroundings on our health such as Cholera, Malaria, Tuberculosis and also its effects on the environment.
The writer is a Student Journalist, GIJ