Posted by: rumnet | May 24, 2012

Causes of Pollution in Tamale Metropolis

 Causes of Pollution in Tamale Metropolis

Political and Chieftaincy Divide

(Published in May 2012 edition of the advocate)

By Joseph Ziem

Land fill site

Not so long ago, perhaps in AD 2005, many residents of the Tamale Metropolis suddenly woke up one morning to very rare but good news, that the city had been adjudged the cleanest in Ghana. Three years after that honor honour was bestowed on it by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, the Ghana Tourist Board (GTB) also rated the city again as the cleanest in Ghana.

The Metropolitan Assembly capped this accolade for the third time in AD 2010, with another award from Zoomlion Ghana Limited as the cleanest city. All these events, I witnessed with my bare eyes, since the launch of my professional career on October 3, 2006, at FIILA FM 89.3 MHz as News Reporter and Editor.

As a matter of fact, filth is one of the biggest development challenges of most Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in Ghana. But unfortunately, filth has become a challenge to most MMDAs; because they refuse to enforce the good byelaws they themselves enact to check waste management and sanitation practices. They also refuse to levy households for waste they generate in order to keep the city and its environs tidy and beautiful always.

Moreover, the assemblies do not properly manage the waste generated or collected. For instance, most of the waste collection points (waste dumps situated in communities) are not well managed and as a result, the garbage scatter over the communities and find their way into people’s homes whenever severe winds blow. Last but not least, the polarized nature of our political landscape has also seriously affected development initiatives including waste management in most MMDAs.       

I have been around, since the days of City Mayor Mohammed Amin Adam Anta, who was appointed by the previous New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration and now, Mayor Alhaji Abudulai Harruna Friday, an appointee of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) government.

Indeed, Mohammed Anta did his bit to ensure cleanliness by once a while organizing cleanup exercises that got rid of filth in the city, particularly in the central business district, leaving the residential areas. Even when such activities were eventually extended to residential areas, they fell below expectation. The same situation has also manifested in the administration of Alhaji Friday, since his assumption of leadership as Mayor of Tamale in 2009 till date.

Although development at the Assembly or grassroots level should be devoid of partisan politics, most residents in Tamale at the moment cannot confidently and proudly call any of the aforementioned mayors, a successful leader. This is because, when it comes to soliciting the fullest support of everyone in the metropolis to participate in good initiatives such as communal labour, none of them comes top.

Waste management in Tamale has been politicized through the dirty politics of NPP and NDC and further made worse by members of these two political parties who have chosen to align themselves with the Dagbon chieftaincy dispute (Abudu and Andani royal gates), thereby making none NDC and NPP members as well as none Dagombas, feign interest in contributing towards the development process of the city. This attitude has obviously made the whole idea of cleanup exercises by leadership of the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly a failure over the years. Thus, the Assembly continue to spend not less than GH¢900,000 annually on sanitation alone, according to official figures released to this writer.

Cleanliness, the two Holy Books (Bible and Qur’an) say, is next to godliness. But surprisingly, in a largely religious community like Tamale where Christians and Muslims are taught to maintain cleanliness in their daily lives and also consider it a spiritual need, it is so appalling to see choked reeking gutters and incinerators in every corner of nearly all vicinities in the urban area of the city. Examples of vicinities that clearly come to mind include; Tishigu, Kalpohini, Kukuo, Duanayili, Changli, Gumani, Jilsonaayili, Kanvilli, Vitting, Dabokpa, Koblimahagu, Sakasaka, Nyohini, Lamashegu, Gumbihini, Gurugu, Tamale Polytechnic, Choggu, Bulpiela, among others. 

Majority of residents in this multi-ethnic city wantonly and inanely dispose of garbage and defecate anyhow and anywhere they find; be it in the gutters/drainage systems, trenches, nearby bushes or forests. For some, not even the frequent treatment of malaria (the commonest sanitation related disease), can make them aware that it is as a result of their bad attitude towards sanitation that is why they fall sick so often and for that matter must adopt good sanitary practices. 

Undisputedly, the filthy situation in the Tamale Metropolis can be attributed to the lack of spirit of volunteerism or communalism among residents. As a result, this is gradually eroding the benefits chalked in recent years by authorities of the Assembly.

Besides, the politicization of every development problem and the Dagbon chieftaincy dispute, both by NPP and NDC propagandists, is largely responsible for the lack of communal labour in communities under the metropolis. Since the demise of the Overlord of Dagbon, Ya-Na Yakubu Andani II in 2002, the NDC party has often been cited to be a sympathizer of the Andani Royal Family, a faction of the Dagbon chieftaincy dispute whereas the NPP party is also being labeled sympathizer of the Abudu Royal Family, the opposing faction.

Ever since this unfortunate incident, most NDC supporters who are members of the Andani Royal Family, perhaps out of apathy or resentments, refuse to take part in general cleanup exercises and other communal labour activities organized by the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly under the then mayor, Mohammed Anta. The opposite is happening now under the administration of Alhaji Friday. Assembly Members and their Unit Committees, who are supposed to promote development initiatives in their localities on behalf of the Assembly, cannot simply mobilize their people to de-silt choked gutters or incinerators and cleanup filth due to resentments among the people.     

The unhelpful politics of the NDC and NPP, in addition to the politicization of the Dagbon Chieftaincy dispute, have gravely caused a moral decay among residents, most especially youth groups of the two political groupings culminating in frequent violent acts and lawlessness in the city at the least provocation.

Most of the youth who constitute a greater proportion of the population, frequently hide behind the dirty politics of the two major political parties and the Dagbon chieftaincy dispute to perpetuate crimes, sometimes very heinous crimes and walk away free. One just needs to mention one of the political parties or the royal gate he/she relates to when arrested or to be prosecuted for a crime committed, and the rest is history. The police have in recent years, blamed their inability to arrest or prosecute certain offenders of the law on the dirty politics of NDC and NPP as well as traditional leaders/opinion leaders related to either the Andani or Abudu royal gates.

This is where I think that religious organizations (churches/mosques) should step in immediately to regularly organize their members to embark on cleanup exercises to tidy up the dirty environs of Tamale as a show of what they preach on their pulpits on Fridays and Sundays or any other day. This is because, when state institutions such as Tamale Metropolitan Assembly or traditional authorities begin to show symptoms of failure by compromising themselves in a very negative manner, It is highly anticipated that the clergy who serve as a bridge between society and God, would ask for ‘spiritual cleansing’ on behalf of their people (leading their members in a crusade against the volumes of waste engulfing the city by organising cleanup exercises).

Moreover, if the members of the numerous churches and mosques in the Tamale Metropolis engage in a monthly cleanup exercise, the Assembly might just end up spending half of what it spends annually and the rest channeled into other development projects if only authorities don’t lineup their pockets with it.

So, if you are a true believer of the Holy Bible or Qur’an both of which preach cleanliness, then stop defecating in gutters, littering the environment and get involve in communal labour in your vicinity.

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