Friday, January 14, 2011

"Knock, knock...", "Whose there?", "The Mayor....", "The Mayor Who?" ,"The Mayor of Accra"

 A Nightman's Calling Card. Source: Wikimedia Commons

One the unfortunate characteristics of rapidly urbanising cities across the globe, is the issue of waste disposal. Although we never want to think about it, human waste is no exception. How does one deal with it? Apparently Georgian London had the "Night-Soil Men" or "Night Men" who were paid to remove excrement from cesspits/privies to be taken out of the city at night. In Victorian times, there was the aptly named Great Stink  in the summer of 1858 when apparently the smell of untreated human waste reached overpowering proportions in central London. Not sure where the Night Men were then. 

Quite recently, the spotlight has been on the  Safai karamchari in India who have the unenviable task of collecting and disposing of human waste in towns all over India. Apparently the practice has been banned but still continues. 
An Urban Centre. Country unspecified. Source: Ghanaian Times
In Ghana, we have a similar history of night-soil carriers or bucket latrine collectors. They have also been banned and the emphasis has been on having a water closet (WC) in one's home or accessing public toilets for a fee. Perhaps I had been living on Planet Naivety too long but very recently I was rendered speechless when I heard  that some landlords in Ghana rent out accommodation without necessarily providing toilet facilities! It gets worse when such houses are in places without public toilets and tenants are left to their own devices. In case anyone is eating, I will refrain from mentioning some of the more colourful waste disposal methods I have heard of.

Last year apparently, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) issued an order that all landlords in Accra should have toilet facilities available to their tenants or riskfacing fines.

The Mayor of Accra, Dr. Alfred Vanderpuije , has started his own "Action Year" with an interesting initiative deserving of a gold star. In the company of glamorous Ghanaian celebrities, the Mayor embarked on  unannounced house-calls a few days ago to inspect toilets. I can't think of anything more embarrassing for non-complying landlords than having the Mayor, actor Majid Michel and a swarm of journalists at your door to inspect a non-existent or sub-standard toilet. By the way, in case you are unfamiliar with the talented Majid Michel he's is known for his lead roles in  contemporary Ghanaian cinematic gems such as Agony of the Christ. If you missed that one,  you may recall his uncanny ability to deliver his lines exactly like Al Pacino in the epic Ghanaian Scarface "remake" Crime to Christ. Well, to be honest not 'exactly'. fact, not even close. Anyway, now that the Mayor has somehow tackled one aspect of the toilet issue, I hope he will act on decongesting Accra Central and finding creative ways to deal with waste disposal in general. Hope.
Ghana's Finest: The smoldering hot Majid Michel.


Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

Your posts are witty, intelligent and satirical. One could not help but laugh while still agreeing and learning from your posts. Go on, don't relent.

I think given the time and support this AMA Mayor would do well. I recently heard that he is proposing arresting individuals who buy from people selling their wares in unauthorised places. And I think this is the best way of solving this issue. If the buyers go to the approved places,the sellers would follow.

Nana Yaw Sarpong said...

Abena, I'm wondering if we are thinking same. I did a post on the Mayor. I think he needs the support. I haven't witnessed such passion and energy like his. He seems to know what he is about given time, he would surmount the hurdles - changing Accra for the better

Abena Serwaa said...

@Nana F-A *wow* thanks for the kind words!! I had to think long and hard about what the Mayor's proposal to arrest buyers would mean. I actually think it would be a brilliant idea! Well, it may be difficult to enforce especially in traffic but it would effectively destroy selling in improper places once and for all.

Abena Serwaa said...

@Nana Yaw S. Clearly great minds think alike!! I definitely think the Mayor has great ideas. My only worry is that some of these ideas will never see the light of day as a result of the government's fear of losing votes in 2012.

Sankofa said...

This is wonderful news! An elected official is finally doing something tangible to help members of his constituent. Good on Majid for putting his face on a good cause. I really hope this yields visible results.

Ghana_Hall_of_Shame said...

The Mayor was actually out in the field working? I'm impressed! I wish him success. Following through on an initiative like that sends a good message to tennants & landlords. It's a good start.

Now i have to go give my dinner away. Thanks a lot Abena Serwaa.

Abena Serwaa said...

@Sankofa The mayor is actually trying to get something done. Good for him! Ironically, I'm pretty sure the biggest obstacle he will face will be from his own party. Rocking the boat too much may risk incumbency. I agree...Kudos to Majid and the other actors for doing something for their community.

Abena Serwaa said...

@GHOS Hahahaha! Nice one Mike...Just thinking about my friend's story about what the night-soil man in his neighbourhood would do when taunted by children is really enough to stop me eating for the rest of the day! However, somehow we have to face the facts and see how best we can modernise our city. Kudos to the mayor.