At the weekend, good old Ghana Television did all Ghanaians a favour by showing Tiger Eye’s exposé put together by Anas Aremeyaw Anas on how illegal mining, otherwise known to the average Ghanaian as galamsey, is destroying our water bodies and degrading our lands.
Everybody with true Ghanaian blood flowing in him or her must be annoyed by the way foreigners, mainly Chinese, have invaded our territory and turned our water bodies into poisonous liquids, ready to decimate our population.
The Chronicle is aware of many excuses being offered by the presence of these Chinese in illegal mining, with the claim that there are Ghanaian collaborators. We do not pretend to be unaware that powerful Ghanaians are behind these brazen Chinese flouting our laws with impunity.
Invariably, they are aided by chiefs, politicians, and even members of the security services. That is a fact we cannot run away from. But does the presence of local collaborators make it legal for Chinese nationals to mine our gold illegally and poison our water bodies? The answer is a big No.
The laws of Ghana are clear. Foreigners have no place in small-scale mining. It pre-supposes that the State of Ghana has a duty to flush out these Chinese, who are brazenly flouting our laws.
What makes the Chinese presence in galamsey even more alarming is that they are responsible for heavy machinery in our rivers searching for alluvial gold, in the process of which our rivers are poisoned with dangerous chemicals like cyanide and mercury.
Apart from poisoning our sources of drinking water with careless abandon, most of these Chinese are trigger-happy, ready to shoot and kill anybody they consider as an impediment to their dangerous operations. In the hinterland, where these illegal Chinese ply their trade, there are credible reports of killings, rape and other activities that endanger the lives of the local inhabitants.
The Chronicle believes that the first line of attack on galamsey is to get these Chinese out of the country. We do not believe arresting these illegal miners would constitute any infringement on our investment code. We do not believe it hinges on xenophobia either. These are criminals and should be treated as such.
We do not believe any Ghanaian could go to the People’s Republic of China on any kind of visa and enter into mining. Why are we tolerating them here then?
It is the submission of this paper that no attempt at ending the galamsey menace would succeed without a concerted assault on the presence of Chinese in illegal mining.
This country is a haven for foreigners who come in, flout our laws with impunity, and make money at the expense of the local people.
Surely, we cannot continue to put the lives of our people and future generations at risk, by allowing these Chinese to continue to pollute our water bodies and degrade the land.
We are urging the government to wage a war on these Chinese, with the clear goal of flushing them out of the system. The Chronicle is happy with all the vibes being made by the new Minister of Lands and Natural Resources. But, Mr. Peter Amewu would not win the war on galamsey without flushing out these Chinese in the illegal trade.
When the Chinese have been dealt with, it would be relatively easier to get our local lads in galamsey to listen to reason. Galamsey is the greatest threat to our existence at the moment. President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has a duty to this nation to flush out these Chinese, clean up our poisoned water bodies, and stop the degradation of our farmlands.
The sonic backdrop to our lives is increasingly one of unwanted technospheric noise, writes Paul Mobbs. And as it eclipses the sounds of nature, it’s taking its toll on our health, wellbeing and quality of life. So as well as campaigning for more trees, and quieter cars, trucks and aircraft, what’s to be done? Let us seek out calm moments of quiet tranquillity – and listen to the birds.
Human interaction with nature is an absolute essential for well-being. Walking out into a dark morning to sit in a hedge and listen to birds may seem a strange route to health, but the evidence is that it works.
A few days ago I went for a walk, well before the dawn, in order to listen to the ‘dawn chorus’. It’s something I like to do a few times a year, especially in the early Spring when the birdsong is at its loudest.
I’ve been doing these walks since before my teens. Over that period there’s been one inescapable change in the countryside around my home town of Banbury – noise.
In many ways the modern urban-dweller has become immured to noise; we exclude it, and bar it from our thoughts – a process even more challenging since the advent of the personal stereo and the mobile phone. But we never truly escape it.
For those who like to enjoy the natural environment, noise is something to be escaped from within the relative sanctuary of the landscape. These days that’s getting harder and harder to accomplish.
That’s not only because of noise from all around – in particular from urban areas, roads and the increasing mechanisation of agriculture – but also due to the increasing level of air traffic overhead.
Bird song is good for you
Walking out before the dawn my objective was to reach Salt Way, which fringes the south-western quadrant of Banbury. It’s the old Roman salt route from Droitwich to Buckinghamshire, which has existed since long before the town itself, and which links to the more ancient prehistoric Portway and Welsh Road trackways.
Due to its age Salt Way has exceptionally dense, wide and species-rich ancient hedgerows which demarcate it from the surrounding fields.
Perfect for listening to birds. Except on that morning, as even before rush hour the easterly breeze was wafting the sound of the M40 motorway from over two and a half miles away, on the other side of town.
In the study the researchers were able to demonstrate a positive correlation between the quality of people’s everyday experience of nature, and a lower prevalence of depression, anxiety, and stress. These results build upon a wealth of other similar studies which have appeared over the last few years – part of the growing fields of ecopsychology.
One of the principal metrics the study used to assess the ‘quality’ of a persons natural experience was the afternoon abundance of birds. While that doesn’t strictly correlate to where I am now, stood in the gloom of a pre-dawn byway, I think the comparison was valid – given the louder and intense levels of birdsong I was able experience.
Noise and nuisance
If ‘natural’ experiences are good for you, does the inverse effect hold true? – that urban noise is bad for you?
The damage of noise to society has been acknowledge in English law since Henry III introduced the concept of ‘public nuisance’, almost 800 years ago. Urban environments can also create negative health effects, especially in terms of stress and mental health.
Generally what many research studies find is that our recovery from the stresses of everyday life tends to be better, and takes place faster, when we are exposed to green landscaped spaces or less noisy natural environments. Difficulty is, that’s getting harder to do these days – the result of higher urbanization globally.
Banbury is a growing town. Immediately to the west of the section of Salt Way where I was sat, the construction of a few hundred houses was about to commence. Permission for another thousand was recently granted on the opposite side of the main A361 road. To the north another five hundred are being planned or built, and another 2,500 are being added to the southern edge of the town right now.
That doesn’t just mean that the species rich hedgerow along Salt Way will be severed from the countryside by urban development – perhaps reducing its diversity in future.
As each year passes, it takes longer to get to the outside of the town; and progressively harder to escape the ‘noise’ envelope of the town as its larger size generates higher volumes of traffic and thus noise.
But aren’t cars are getting quieter?
Road vehicles are not the only significant source of noise. Eg, for those of you who drink instant coffee, the occasional hiss of high pressure steam that radiates out across Banbury is created by your caffeine craving – as the leading brands are made here in Europe’s biggest coffee plant.
The common misapprehension about road noise is that it’s about motorized vehicles. In fact, unless the vehicle has a mechanical fault, a large part of the noise comes from the tyre’s contact with the road surface. Hence the use of many more electric vehicles would still give rise to significant road noise.
As a briefing from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology noted in 2009, while the noise emitted by cars has reduce by eleven decibels since 1970, there has been no associated reduction in the road noise generated. That’s because tyre noise is difficult to tackle, and also because traffic volumes have significantly increased, meaning there are more tyres making noise.
Here in Banbury we also have another problem – aircraft. It’s a lot less ‘acute’ than it was, since the USAF’s jet fighters left their local base in 1994. However the trans-Atlantic air corridors for south-east England and middle-Europe cross the skies above North Oxfordshire. At certain times of the day, particularly morning and evening, the ‘chronic’ level noise from above is almost constant.
The invasive nature of that noise was highlighted in 2010 when the Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted. I went for a walk and there was something glaringly different about the landscape. Then I realized: no aircraft noise – the result of the flight ban.
The effect was stunning, stirring, and unfortunately short-lived.
What we’re talking about here is lost ‘tranquility’
Since 1970, RCEP had produced some of the UK government’s best, and most politically embarrassing academic studies on pollution and the environment – from nuclear waste to soil protection.
In 1994, RECP produced its ground-breaking 18th Report on Transport and the Environment. Against the background of the Government’s road building programme of that time, the contents were inflammatory – and increased the level of protests against new road construction.
In that report there were two maps which showed the level of ‘tranquility’ – the area of countryside unaffected by road, aircraft or urban noise – in the south-east of England. One map showed the ‘tranquil’ area in 1960, the other in 1992. Subtracting one map from the other you realize the level of ‘tranquil’ countryside which was lost over that 30-year period.
In their conclusions RCEP stated,
“Noise from vehicles and aircraft is a major source of stress and dissatisfaction, notably in towns but now intruding into many formerly tranquil areas. Construction of new roads and airports to accommodate traffic is destroying irreplaceable landscapes and features of our cultural heritage.”
The importance of ecopsychology to environmentalism
It would be easy to reduce this to an issue of car tyres, or the encroachment of urbanization. Instead what environmentalism has to grasp are the clear messages about human well-being which are emerging from ecopsychological research.
Climate change is abstract. Air pollution, except under extreme conditions, is abstract. Yet studies which examine the fundamental psychological human dependence upon the natural environment can tell us something which, for many, is directly appreciable.
Talking about wellbeing, or the the stress- and anxiety-reducing qualities of green space, might seem a distraction from the perilous ecological challenges of our time. That is a far too limited perspective:
If we deal with road noise, by reducing the use of road vehicles, or reducing their speeds, we affect both air pollution and climate change.
If we increase green spaces, and take greater care with how the urban fringe is managed, then we improve people’s ability to access nature and increase their well-being – and we also begin to address issues such as biodiversity loss and landscape fragmentation.
More than anything, increasing people’s awareness of the natural environment would increase society’s valuation of it – and their propensity to change to protect it.
A few years ago I write a briefing on ecopsychology as part of a series on how lightweight camping/backpacking could be a means to address lifestyle sustainability – and allow people to adapt/develop the skills to live lower-impact lifestyles in their own homes as a result.
A focus on ecopsychology as part of local environment campaigns, especially for children, could be equally transformative – particularly as current economic and political trends are questioning the value of ‘big’ ecological issues such as climate change.
Small is, after all, beautiful?
That morning, walking to the top of Banbury’s local summit, Crouch Hill, the sun rose through a cloudy horizon. All around the noise level had been growing steadily as the rush hour approached and the roads filled with vehicles.
Moving beyond that requires more than a change of transport policy. What it requires is a realization that human interaction with nature is an absolute essential for well-being.
Far more than just changing your diet or going to the gym, contact with nature is a mechanism to find ourselves as ‘whole’ people; part of our environment, not shielded or walled away from it.
Walking out into a dark morning to sit in a hedge and listen to birds may seem a strange route to health, but the evidence is that it works.
t is true that potential economic benefits (employment, tax revenues and development outcomes) can be derived from small-scale mining sector in Ghana.
We cannot also deny the fact that small-scale mining is a significant contributor to the economic and social well-being of many people and households in rural, remote, and poor communities in Ghana.
Nevertheless, the way small-scale mining sector is being managed in Ghana, it does not look favourable. The sector is being managed abysmally.
Apparently, the laws which govern the small-scale mining sector are somehow confused and inconsistent. Indeed, all the attention is basically being focused on the large-scale mining sector, leaving the small-scale mining sector at a substantial disadvantage.
To be quite honest, the regulators laissez faire leadership style may cost the nation dearly in the long run.
Having said that, in order to achieve the maximum benefit, it is extremely important that society as a whole must have an interest in promoting and strengthening the role of small-scale mining in national development.
In addition, the effective implementation of regulations and fortifications towards the developmental potential of the sector must be the topmost importance to the regulating authorities.
It must also be emphasised that societies at large may be both positively and negatively affected by small-scale mining.
The positive effects may include the promotion of efficient resource use, such as extracting ores from small deposits or from tailings, and thus providing the rural folks with incomes.
On the other hand, the negative effects may include, among other things, environmental degradation, water pollution, the release of mercury and other toxic and hazardous wastes into the free environment, and unforeseen social tensions that can lead to civil unrest.
And more so overlapping and conflicting laws, or laws and regulations that are not based on an understanding of the local context of small-scale mining, often hinder and erode the sector’s potential to contribute to sustainable development.
For instance, it is somewhat difficult to establish whether if the interests of the indigenous people are consistent with those of the small-scale miners.
And what is more, while some indigenous people may secure their livelihoods from small-scale mining, there may be other instances in which non-indigenous small scale miners (Chinese illegal miners) threaten the livelihoods of the indigenous people.
For instance, in spite of the fact that by law, only Ghanaians are allowed to obtain mining licenses for small-scale mining operations, “thousands” of Chinese and other foreigners are working in the small scale mining sector in Ghana.
“The involvement of the Chinese has changed the dynamics of small-scale mining,” the head of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, said in an interview.
“They use bulldozers, pay loaders and really heavy machinery. They have in fact mechanized artisanal mining and as a result the level of environmental devastation is huge.”
Worst of all, some greedy and unpatriotic Ghanaians are colluding with the Chinese illegal miners to forcibly dig our natural resources, destroy the environment and terrorise the rural folks.
Disappointingly, this illegal practice is making nonsense of the essence of the enactment of the small-scale mining laws.
Apparently, the small-scale mining law was promulgated to allow native Ghanaians to engage in small-scale mining legally, with a view to engaging them in a meaningful employment.
However, some obdurate Ghanaians have been abusing the small-scale mining law over the years. Sources have it that, often, Ghanaians would secure plots of land, and then go into partnership with the Chinese who have funds to bring in the bulldozers and all the other big equipment.
Obviously, there are lapses in the 1989 small-scale mining law (PNDCL 218). For example, the law states categorically that no licence for small-scale gold mining operation shall be granted to any person who is not a citizen of Ghana. Strangely, however, the same law allows a Ghanaian licence holder to seek logistics assistance from their foreign minions.
Consequently, some Ghanaian licence holders would more often than not go beyond the stated jurisdiction and involve the foreigners in the mining operations.
Indeed, the epochal violations of the small-scale mining law go to show that there is a break down in the sector. To me, the sector requires overhaul.
Let us face it, better data and policies are needed to get the sector back on track.
So, going forward, the 1989 small-scale mining law has to be amended. The amendments must make it unlawful for any Ghanaian to transfer small-scale mining licences to their foreign minions, and must also prohibit allocation of mining lands to the illegal miners.
The fact of the matter is that at the moment, the small-scale mining sector is in a complete mess. Thus, I will venture to propound that if possible, President Nana Akufo-Addo must suspend all the activities in the small-scale mining sector whilst the authorities restore sanity into the system.
Even though my commendation may seem extremely draconian, I am afraid, if proper care is not taken, some greedy and obnoxious Ghanaians will continue to denude the environment, pollute the water bodies and inadvertently poison Ghanaians with mephitic substances such as mercury and cyanide.
Nusa Lembongan, Bali, Indonesia. A snorkeller swims alongside a manta ray surrounded by plastic trash in December 2014. Photograph: Nick Pumphrey/nickpumphrey.com
Indonesia has pledged up to $1bn a year to dramatically reduce the amount of plastic and other waste products polluting its waters. The announcement was made by Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s coordinating minister for maritime affairs at last week’s 2017 World Oceans Summit in Nusa Dua, Bali.
Pandjaitan told delegates at the conference that Indonesia would achieve a 70% reduction in marine waste within eight years. He proposed developing new industries that use biodegradable materials such as cassava and seaweed to produce plastic alternatives. Other measures could include a nationwide tax on plastic bags as well as a sustained public education campaign.
The World Bank estimates that each of Indonesia’s 250 million inhabitants is responsible for between 0.8 and 1kg of plastic waste per annum. Only China dumps more waste in the ocean, according to a 2015 report in the journal Science.
The world’s second biggest plastic polluter also boasts the world’s highest levels of marine biodiversity. Indonesia lies at the heart of the Coral Triangle; its incredibly rich coral reef ecosystems support crucial fisheries, provide food security for millions and are a growing draw for tourists.
Plastic pollution is just one of the threats to these ecosystems services, but it’s a serious one. A recent study suggests that by 2050, there could be more plastic than biomass in the world’s oceans. Plastics have entered the marine food chain and are already reaching our dinner plates.
Indonesia’s commitment is part of the UN’s new Clean Seas campaign, which aims to tackle consumer plastics through a range of actions – from cutting down on single use plastics such as shopping bags and coffee cups to pressuring firms to cut down on plastic packaging. Nine countries have already joined Indonesia in signing up to the campaign, including Uruguay, which will impose a tax on single use plastic bags and Costa Rica, which is promising better waste management and education.
But Indonesia’s target of a 70% reduction by 2025 is ambitious. Across the country’s 17,000 islands there is poor public understanding of the problems created by plastic waste.
Companies produce small scale products such as single use shampoo packets and confectionery that are popular in communities where cash flow pressures and habit prevent more sustainable consumption. Add poor waste management infrastructure and the scale of the challenge comes into sharp focus.
During rainy season, thousands of tonnes of rubbish discarded in rivers and waterways washes up on Indonesia’s shores. Heavy machinery is often brought in to clear the tourist beaches of Bali and local communities and non-profits are constantly organising large scale beach clean ups.
Last year, a tax on single use plastic bags was trialed in 23 cities across Indonesia. While the government reported a big reduction in plastic bag use, there was significant resistance both from consumers and industry, according to Siti Nurbaya, Indonesia’s minister for the environment. This is delaying a bill to impose a nationwide tax of not less than Rp.200 (1p) per plastic bag.
Environmentalists will be hoping that the promised funding effectively channels resources and expertise into public awareness and education programmes, improvements in waste management, pressure on industry and initiatives that encourage alternatives to plastic packaging.
The UN campaign reminds us all, however, that plastic pollution is a problems we can all address with some very simple changes in behaviour.
This article seeks to understand the current role political leaders, policies makers, and environmental scientist play on environmental management for sustainable development. The article will evaluate the concept that political leaders and political elites are concern about the environment, through empirical studies the political elite gather to make policies that will help reduce the rate of environmental changes but they do not have the political will to effectively implement these policies.
In 2006 toxic waste was shipped by vessel Probo Koala from Dutch oil firm Trafigura that casues death of many lives in Abidjan, In Ghana 1000 of electronic waste ranging from fridges, damange computers that contains leak toxic substances such as lead and mecury that destroy the lives are shipped to Ghana and end up in the damping site call Agbogbloshie. Yet government official knows about it, the individuals called boggers(Ghanaians abroad) who export this goods from developed countries to Ghana knows about it and the ports authorities knows about the dengers but our love for money overcome our love for life.
Climatic change has become an issue among world leaders, individuals and the environmentalist, the worst affected are developing nations. The dangerous waste from developed countries, find their way to developing countries especially in Africa. Africa environment has over the century faced climate change as a result of environmental pollution that has significantly caused by individuals and industries, the increased emission of carbon dioxide, methane, waste management and other greenhouse gases. The causes of environmental pollution is by human activities, individuals has now understand their actions on the environment yet the rate at which we are changing our attitudes towards the activities that causes Global Warming is killing our intimacy with the environment.
Historically humans have acted on the bio-physical environment in order to satisfy and meet basic biological needs, the activities of clearing the forest for agriculture, mining for minerals, polluting fresh water, production of toxic gases and overharvesting of fish stock has altered the environmental changes that we are facing now. Environmental changes has have negative impact on human societies especially in Africa, according to environmentalist global climatic change currently poses the greatest threat to human health, therefore, the need to enhance our knowledge of environmental changes and revised measures to responds to such changes and reduce human venerability to the risk and effect associated with the environmental changes around the local, regional and the globe.
Scientists and government officials around the world, from Africa, Europe, Asia, America, Australia and the Caribbean all agree that we are in crisis. Unless we stop destroying our vital life-support systems, they will fail. We must maintain them, or pay the penalty. If an industry has polluted the air for many years, and is operating on a close budget can we, in good conscience, make demands that will drive it into collapse? On the other hand, can we afford to risk our health by continuing to breathe the polluted air that the industries emit?
Worldwide, about 400 million metric tons of hazardous wastes are generated each year. In 1989 the Basel Convention on the Control of Trans-boundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal was adopted at a meeting convened by the United Nations Environmental Program and attended by 116 countries. Yet the political elite do not have political commitment to implement these policies. Guinea-Bissau was one of the countries at the centre of an international uproar over revelations that several West African states had signed contracts to allow the dumping of toxic waste from industrialized countries in 1988.
The government claimed on April 16 that it had agreed only to study a proposal to accept for long-term storage, recycling, or incineration 15 million metric tons of industrial waste over a five-year period. A European environmental group, however, alleged that a contract to actually accept the waste had been signed in February. The agreement reportedly would have brought Guinea-Bissau $600 million in payments. Information Minister Christian-Gilbert Bembet and Scientific Research and Environmental Minister Christophe Mbouramou were dismissed in a July cabinet reshuffle after the Central Committee of the ruling Congolese Labor Party demanded that officials aiding the importation of foreign hazardous wastes be disciplined. The two ministers reportedly had begun negotiating an $84 million contract to store 1 million tons of toxic wastes from Europe.
The article will therefore help to crystallize the idea of cooperation, by ordinary citiens, government officials and politicians enable them interact with to understand the danger of their activities that effect the environment, sustainable environment require the cooperation of political elite and local individuals around the globe, when the grassroots environmental movement are involve in the decision making process they can effectively manage the concept of sustainable environmental management in the growing economies by protecting and nurturing our love to support growth over the long-time. The primary knowledge is therefore essential for identifying, debating and implementation of environmental policies in the political environment.
The issue of whether scientist or politicians have the environmental issues at heart is a debating vex. Scientist developed DDT and government banned the use of DDT, that positive action by government. The growing concern by political leaders on environmental problems is embrace but the approaches to the solution are still liberal by the political elites, this because sometime the actors that bring this toxic waste comes with juicy offer to theses politicians just to corrupt them and have their ways.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climatic Change conclude that human activity is an important cause of the change, Government and political leaders makes environment laws to protect the environment but the competition among nation to gain power and economic wealth eliminate government commitment to effective enforce laws.
Industrial countries can control outflow of garbage and pollutants in a way that is economically but this is impossible for developing country to follow (Arne, 1989), uncovering that political leaders do not have interest in other countries environmental changes, forgetting that the end result is global, therefore world leaders should embrace all effort to effectively find the indicators to environmental changes.
Our love for the environment is the love for our survive and we should all therefore cooperate with all agency with our individual effort to maintain sustainable development, when we interrupt with political leaders they will also comprise to destroy the environment to stay in power, as cited by (Buen de Mesquita, 2005) key policy leaders do not pick goals themselves, rather they reflect the interest of those who support they need to stay in power.
It is difficult to conceive of any state globalisation process that does not depend on internationalisation (Shaw, 2000) as cited by (Lechner, 2009) international society refers to a society of states bound by common rule and institutions. (Heywood, 2011) new regionalism is essentially in economic, in character and largely takes the form of regional blocs. That is to say the world is one unite of a society and developed and developing countries should take much concern of any action that will affect the environment in developing countries or developed countries, recently it was reported that China released carbon dioxide at a higher rate as compare to what the president declared to the international world.
Suaman Students Association (SUASA) draws to your notice of an illegal mining (Galamsey) ongoing at SUI-Aboi in Suaman District in the Western Region.
Suaman has been among the districts which produce more beans of Cocoa in Ghana. Cocoa being the predominant occupation and sole employment in the district will fall down in the couple of years to come if this galamsey continue to exist in the district. This Galamsey is destroying farm lands and other vital water bodies, River Bia and Sui.
These Rivers has been the solitary sources of drinking water and irrigation purpose for residents in the community and its surrounding areas which have been polluted in the course of the careless activities of illegal miners. Fishing from these water bodies is no longer a trade our fishermen can make better off. Community members’ lives are now in danger because the source of water has been contaminated by these Galamsey operators.
This illegal practice has gone on almost a month now in the district. This Galamsey has brought a huge hazard to the Community and its environs. School drop-out, Teenage Pregnancy, Harmful Cultural Practices, Prostitution, Divorce of Marriages and Internal Child Trafficking, etc has now been the road map of the District.
The District Assembly, Security Service, Nananom and all stakeholders have turned their back with deaf ears to this situation. Some months to come it will be security risk to the District as latent social liabilities.
With this, Suaman Students Association (SUASA) is pleading to His Excellency Nana Addo Darkwa Akuffu-Addo the President of Ghana, National Security Service, and all Agency responsible for mineral and land protection to instantaneously come to our aid and support blush away all Galamsey operators in our district. As a result, we can have the chance for appropriate and balanced development. Thank you
Leaders of the country must institute pragmatic measures to “save the Korle lagoon” and other bodies to prevent the resultant adverse conditions from the mismanagement of the country’s water bodies, former Attorney General Nii Ayikoi Otoo has admonished.
Mr Otoo, a prominent member of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), has expressed grave concern about the management of the Korle lagoon in Accra by city authorities.
One dredging equipment has been on the lagoon for several months to remove excess silt and other pollutants from the lagoon.
But Mr Otoo, who took to Facebook to vent his frustrations, has called on a more comprehensive way to manage the lagoon, one of the biggest channels for water into the sea.
“What is happening at the Korle Lagoon, is it dredging or de-silting? What can those tiny machines do and if so how long will the dredging take if what is being done is indeed dredging? We must be serious with the dredging and restoration. But to me, what is going on now is child’s play. Let’s wake up now now and save the Korle lagoon. It’s long overdue. We need positive action. There must be a paradigm shift,” he charged.
Due to pollution, the Korle lagoon usually overflows its banks causing flooding and destruction to properties.
Government will in 2020 ban the production, importation and exportation of products containing mercury, Madam Salamatu Abdul-Salam, Chief Director at the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology and Innovation has said.
She noted that by 2020, there should be no mercury devices in the country and that healthcare facility and schools should start phasing it out.
The move will protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury which is currently being used in lighting soaps and cosmetics, and many healthcare products including clinical thermometers, and blood pressure monitors.
This would be in accordance with the Minamota Convention on Mercury, which Ghana signed in 2014 and was ratified by Parliament in October 2016.
The objective of the Convention is to protect the human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury.
Madam Abdul-Salam made the announcement during a National Stakeholders’ Inception Workshop for the development of Minamota Initial Assessment and National Action Plan for Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Mining.
The workshop was to raise awareness of policy makers on mercury menace and its environmental and health concerns and the need for national action.
She said the country was flooded with products which contained serious mercury elements which were dangerous to the health of the citizenry.
Madam Abdul-Salam said products which contain mercury such as switches and relays, batteries, certain types of compact fluorescent lamps, pesticides, thermometers, and blood pressure devices were to be banned from the country.
She said to facilitate the early implementation of the Convention, each country was expected to undertake an initial assessment to collect information that would assist in its decision to develop a national implementation plan and prepare a national plan to reduce emissions of mercury.
She said the Ministry recognized the need to establish the relevant regulatory framework and structures to combat the threat posed by mercury.
“The Ministry with stakeholders are well committed to the full implementation of the provisions of the Convention to ensure a safe and sound environment for future generations,’’ she added.
Mr Louis Kuupen, Assistant Country Director of United Nations Development Planning (UNDP), commended government for ratifying the Convention, saying the use of mercury in today’s society was very high and that all were at risks to the threats its posed to human health and environment.
Mr Kuupen said the Global Environmental Facility was providing funding support to the country to conduct a nationwide assessment on the use and sources of mercury and assess institutional gaps and needs required to mainstream the Convention.
He said the UNDP was committed to the promotion of environmental sustainability and guided by the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change.
It has always been a great concern to me how Ghana is being left to suffer environmental degradation by the unconscious or conscious actions of our leaders and us. The way our cities, towns and villages are nonchalantly left to the mercy of plastic bags littering and our farmlands subjected to extensively uncontrollable damaging surface mining is very worrying.
My concern was exacerbated by what I witnessed as an unacceptable degree of littering by plastic food bags during my recent visit to Ghana in November/December 2016 to assist with the then ongoing NPP electioneering campaign. I could see transparent and dark-coloured plastic bags lying all around on the ground in their quantities in both public places and the countryside.
These plastic carrier bags are used for the “pure water” that is sold throughout the country as the major source of potable water to almost every Ghanaian, and also, for wrapping food items bought in the market and other public places.
It is how we dispose of the plastic bags that have greatly alarmed me. The bags after use are chucked away anywhere and anyhow. The propensity for littering by the people coupled with the accumulation of the used and discarded bags in public places and the countryside does pose not only health and safety hazards to the public but also, to the ecology of our country.
While in Kumasi at the Unicorn House area in Adum, during my said visit to Ghana, I had the perfect opportunity to witness how the littered plastic bags were choking the open gutters. On two occasions that I was there to catch a taxi, either fortunately or unfortunately, the heavens opened up. At a T-junction in the main gutter where it branches towards the defunct railway area through culverts, come and see how the plastic bags were blocking the flow of the river. The bags were accumulating at that point, having been swept away from where only God knows.
A certain man without hand gloves on jumped into the gutter and was removing the rubbish that was choking the gutter. It was the second time that I saw the same man does that with one other same man giving him instructions and finally giving him some money. Seeing how unhygienic and the health dangers posed to the man working in the gutter with his bare hands, on the second occasion, I approached the man I suspected to be his boss.
When I approached him, I said, “Please, I would like to know if you are the boss of this gentleman you are talking to who has just jumped out of the gutter?” The man could not give me an answer straightaway. From his facial expression or body language, I could tell that he was afraid and was wondering who I could be. I said to him, “I have observed on two separate occasions that I have come here and it was raining that the man would jump into the gutter and without protective gloves on his hands, remove rubbish from the gutter. I find that very unhygienic, unsafe and a danger to his life”
He then gathered confidence to tell me that he was not his boss but just that he is a trader, pointing to a merchandise stall as his, and that for the rainwater in the gutter not to overflow to destroy their commodities, all those with commodities stalls along the gutter do contribute money to give to him and others to clear the gutter of any rubbish that has the potential to block the gutter to cause overflow of rainwater to damage their goods.
I advised him to try to purchase him hand gloves and more especially, a rake instead of using his bare hands.
In the countryside, the plastic bags which are not biodegradable let alone, being compostable, do deprive the soil of oxygen and kill off other soil organisms when they are left accumulated as they do. In the towns and cities, they can cause tripping of persons. Additionally, the mere sight of it is an eyesore.
To reduce the rate of littering of plastic bags, I shall suggest as following:
1. In the towns and cities, rubbish bins must be placed in various vantage points where users of “pure water” and those eating food wrapped or served in plastic bags can chuck away the used plastic carrier bags or whatever they call them.
2. The Metropolitan or District Assemblies must have laws in place which are to be enforced to punish anyone found throwing away rubbish, especially used plastic bags, on the ground other than into the provided rubbish bins.
3. A small levy of say one pesewa or two payable by the one being served food or their commodity purchase in a plastic bag could be collected by the government. With the money collected, more people can be employed to clean our towns and cities of the plastic bags to avoid the littering. With the money being charged, many people will stop using the plastic bags at the rate they are currently being used.
In the UK the government has come out with a law placing a surcharge on the use of plastic carrier bags. Each small carrier bag served you when you purchase items from the supermarkets etc., cost you additional five pence. With the introduction of this law since the past one or two years, people’s use of plastic carrier bags has greatly curtailed. People have learnt to reuse same plastic carrier bags for their shopping which attitude was previously not the case. This has reduced the quantity of these non biodegradable plastic carriers hence the quantity of rubbish to be removed by the waste/rubbish-collecting trucks.
On the surface mining (galamsey), it is about time the government abolished it completely. The benefit to the nation as a whole in the creation of jobs for the youth and acquiring the nation money is very negligible or pales completely compared to the damage caused. The galamsey pits left open after use have become death traps into which some people have fallen into their death.
The irreparable damage done to our arable farmlands; destruction of our cocoa and vegetable farms, destruction of our water bodies etc., is so massive. The scale of the ongoing surface mining does pose long term adverse effect on the food and water security of our nation.
The cyanide used to treat their ore to extract the gold which get washed into our rivers does cause health risks and damages our rivers hence badly affecting our source of drinking water.
People should please join me in raising greater concern about the ongoing uncontrolled plastic bags littering and especially, the surface mining (galamsey) where the Chinese have taken the lead and are alleged to have the audacity to inflict fatal injuries on the Ghanaian natives who dare challenge their irresponsible actions which a foreigner may not dare do in China. A stranger doing so in China should not expect to go scot free without suffering a close-range bullet shot to their head. Why should we then encourage them to savage our ecology by closing our eyes to their unscrupulous surface mining in Ghana?
Ghanaians, please let us be farsighted enough to know the repercussions of both the plastic bags littering and the uncontrolled surface mining (galamsey)! A word to the wise is enough.
The Weija Dam, which supplies potable water to about 80 per cent of Accra, is facing massive encroachment that has extended to the entire stretch of the dam.
Currently, the dam, which was constructed in 1978, is inundated with indiscriminate harvesting of wood, sand winning, quarrying and farming activities in its catchment area.
Another destructive activity is the dumping of solid and liquid waste from domestic and industrial sources into the dam, causing the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) to continuously increase the funds used to buy chemicals to treat the water.
The Daily Graphic on a visit to the dam site over the weekend saw that residents of Weija, Oblogo and surrounding communities were engaged in commercial activities around the dam.
The nature of the encroachment is such that most of the residents have directed their faecal waste and other waste water into the Densu River, while others have turned the river into a refuse dump.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic, the Communications Director of the GWCL, Mr Stanley Martey, said the situation was hampering the operations of the company. “We are saddened by the issue of encroachment around the dam.
We have tried to address this problem on many occasions but nothing concrete has come out of our efforts,” he said.
Over the last few years, he said, a number of interventions had been put in place to address the problem of encroachment that had taken over the dam.
“We brought in the National Security to help check the situation, but anytime we moved in, we received injunctions from the people. The security officers were then forced to move away to avoid any problem,” Mr Martey said.
Another intervention the company tried to use to curb the problem, he said, was to fence off the dam area, but, unfortunately, anytime a fence was erected, some land guards came to demolish it.
“These men come in at odd hours to break down every single fence we put up to protect the dam,” he added. He attributed the problem to the failure of the Ga South Municipal Assembly to enforce the laws, since “they have the legal authority to deal with issues of encroachment in that area”.
“The GWCL does not have the power to arrest people in that area because it is the responsibility of the municipal assembly. However, we still do not know why nothing has been done about it, although the assembly is aware of the situation,” Mr Martey said.
Some residents washing near the River Densu close to the dam
Cost of production high
He said over the last four years the cost of treating the water in the dam for safe usage had quadrupled, adding that the issue was partly responsible for high water tariffs in recent times.
“We now have to spend four times the amount we used to spend monthly to treat the water before it can be good for usage. This is making our cost of production go high every month,” Mr Martey added.
He was, however, unable to give the monthly cost of treating the water, saying that he had to crosscheck to get the right amount because the figures kept changing.