There is a looming environmental disaster at Kpone in the Kpone-Katamanso municipality in the Greater Accra Region, as an overflowing landfill site in the area continues to be used as dumping ground for both faecal matter and solid waste.
And as if the situation is not bad enough, there is fire still burning in the waste, months after the site caught fire in August 2019 and was deemed to have been closed down.
Also, an old landfill site that was decommissioned some years ago has been reopened, thereby worsening the situation.
According to some residents of Kpone, there is leachate from the holding wells of the engineered site into nearby open drains in the community.
Residents who spoke to the Daily Graphic on separate occasions expressed worry over the environmental consequences, as the leachate gives a foul smell that overpowers the atmosphere.
On Monday, March 9, 2020, scores of young people from Kpone mounted road blocks at the landfill site and prevented refuse trucks from dumping waste at the site over what they said was the government’s failure to decommission the site, in spite of numerous promises.
They threatened to embark on more demonstrations until the authorities closed down the site, claiming that attempts to engage duty bearers, such as the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources and the Greater Accra Regional Coordinating Council, over the matter had not yielded any fruits.
“We are on a lifeline; we have no such luxury of time to wait any longer,” the Assembly Member for the Afieye Electoral Area, Mr Jacob Tettey Addy, said.
The youth also claimed that the Sanitation Ministry had, in November last year, told stakeholders that it was going to close down the site to enable its managers to put in measures to improve conditions there, but the promise had not been fulfilled.
The protesters further alleged that the Tema Metropolitan Assembly (TMA) was generating revenue from the site when the challenges had not been fixed.
Mr Addy also said residue from the dump site had consistently flowed into the community’s lagoon, thereby destroying the people’s source of livelihood and the ecology.
“We are using today’s protest as a sign of bigger ones to come, and when they come, nobody will be able to contain our action,” he said.
The aggrieved residents also expressed concern over the bad nature of roads in the area.
According to the Secretary of the Kpone Organised Youth for Development (OYD), Mr Jonas Mensah, the roads had become a major safety concern to the people and industries in the municipality.
“Commuting on the roads at night comes with nightmarish experiences, as there are no street lights, leaving residents at the mercy of thieves,” he said.
“Are we not part of Ghana? Why can’t we be given access to good roads when our lands have been taken over and turned into an industrial enclave to rake in revenue for the country?” he queried.
The representative of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers Union stationed at the Tema Tank Farm (TTF), Mr Ben Ekuadzi, said the union had also held similar protests in the past over the deplorable roads.
The Greater Accra Regional Minister, Mr Ishmael Ashitey, who toured the site last Friday, assured the residents that the government was working to provide other alternatives to the Kpone landfill site to help reduce the health risk it posed to the people, reports Joshua Bediako Koomson.
He said the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources had already engaged stakeholders and foreign companies who were knowledgeable in landfill management and would soon come up with a blueprint on the appropriate way to dispose of waste.
Among the regional minister’s entourage were the Metropolitan Chief Executive Officer (MCE) for Accra, Mr Mohammed Adjei Sowah, and the MCE for Tema, Mr Felix Nii Annang-La.
The Municipal Chief Executive for Kpone-Katamanso, Mr Solomon Tetteh Appiah, when contacted, said the issues being raised by the youth were beyond the assembly and, therefore, “there is nothing we can do about them”.
He, however, described the action of the youth as mischievous, saying the Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, during a recent visit to the municipality, gave an assurance that the roads had been awarded on contract.
“So I don’t know what the group is seeking to achieve by organising the protest because we have held engagements with them, and they boycotted some of the meetings,” he alleged.
On the decommissioning of the landfill site and the leakage of leach into the lagoon, he asked: “Has the leach not been running into the lagoon for years? Is it today that they want to demonstrate over it? Zoomlion is the manager of the place and we have had meetings seeking solutions to the issues, but if the youth wish to demonstrate, they are at liberty to do so.”