The President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo in his speech on the State of the Nation’s Address in 2017, promised to make Accra the cleanest city in Africa; this was met with a lot of nodding of heads from the general public with great expectations of seeing it come to fruition, but let me ask, is the promise being fulfilled today as expected?
Previous governments like that of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) under John Dramani Mahama, brought out certain measures such as the community general cleaning exercise christened National Sanitation Day, which was scheduled to be taking place the first Saturday of every month, after some months of effectively cleaning the environment, the work stopped and no mention was ever made of it, especially when the new government came to power.This makes me wonder if the issue of sanitation is a coin being tossed by politicians to serve their interests and when the need be.
I do commend Zoomlion Waste Management for the great initiative of employingworkers to help clean Ghana and other stakeholders involved in the distribution of dustbins at various vantage point to encourage citizens to segregate their waste. Whilst I do commend, let me quickly add that it will take more than sharing dustbins and employing few people to clean the environment. One major way of keeping the environment clean per my estimation is the use of paper bags. Paper bags are bags which are 100% reusable, recyclable and indeed biodegradable due to the fact that they are mostly made from trees. Theypose less threat to wildlife as it is environmentally friendly and requires less energy to be recycled as compared to plastic or polythene bags. This has made paper bags to be easily adopted by most countries. I believe it is high time the government of Ghana fully adopts the use of plastic bags and forever ban the use of polythene bags.
Why is the use of paper bags necessary?
The use of paper bags will reduce the amount of polythene bags in the system thereby reducing the amount of waste caused by the numerous polythene bags in our water bodies and gutters. This will also enable the free flow of water to prevent flood which has bedeviled us as a country for a longtime now.
People engaged in the production and manufacturing of paper bags will gain high recognition and acceptance in the country as much education will be done for both illiterate and literate to fully understand itsuse and benefit to the society.
Food contamination will also be reduced because all foodswill be served and packaged in the varying paper bags for portability and consumption. All items purchased from the market will be in paper bags hence, making the papers reusable when the need arise.
What are the benefits?
With the adoption of paper bags, Ghana will be able to reduce the level of filth, create more employment opportunities through the setup of companies manufacturing paper bags and also achieve the SDG goal 6 which aims at ensuring that everyone gets access to clean environment and water.
Ghana will be able to clear its name as part of the dirtiest cities to one of the most beautiful in the world. This will attract more tourists to the country and this will go a long way to increase the country`s GDP over time.
Finally, Ghana, will be an example to other countries in terms of using eco-friendly ways and means of preserving the environment.
I believe that it is incumbent on the government alone to make sure that paper bags are used throughout the country. We as citizens need to contribute our widow’s mite by declining the use of polythene bags whenever it they are used to package our items at the market or any other shop.
By: GLORIA KAFUI KUZO, STUDENT JOURNALIST, GIJ.