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Sanitation Kofi Adda may have goofed. Ghana's sanitation problems cannot be blamed on Zoomlion

At a stakeholders forum organized under the Graphic Communications Group with sponsorship from the Environmental Sanitation Practitioners Association (ESPA), Zoomlion and Omni Bank Limited at the Swiss Spirits Alisa Hotel in Accra, Friday March 9, 2018 Mr. Adda positioned his blame of a less cleaned Ghana squarely on Zoomlion. "Dr. Agyapong, I am sorry to disappoint you here.

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Minister of Sanitation play

Minister of Sanitation

It is shocking to hear the Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, Hon. Joseph Kofi Adda blame Ghana’s inability to make the cities filth free ‘squarely’ on waste management company, Zoomlion Ghana Limited.

At a stakeholders forum organized under the Graphic Communications Group with sponsorship from the Environmental Sanitation Practitioners Association (ESPA), Zoomlion and Omni Bank Limited at the Swiss Spirits Alisa Hotel in Accra, Friday March 9, 2018 Mr. Adda positioned his blame of a less cleaned Ghana squarely on Zoomlion. "Dr. Agyapong, I am sorry to disappoint you here.

"We generate waste every day, so must we sweep every day. We ought to sweep, collect, transport and dispose of every day. I don't think for the past year or so Zoomlion has done so well on that", said the minister as though Zoomlion doesn’t sweep, collect, transport and dispose of waste every day.

Now, it is good to bring to the notice of the public that private enterprises in Ghana ventured into the sanitation industry largely during the Fourth Republic. These enterprises made strenuous efforts over the years to bring the country this far in terms of waste management. Commendably, every government has shown serious interest in this industry and has encouraged the private sector participation to improve our standards. What is left, is the Ghanaian attitude and mentality towards the waste management menace. Companies that have played key roles in this industry in Ghana are Zoomlion Ghana Ltd, J. Stanley Owusu Co. Ltd, Y.N.O Enterprise Ltd, Zoompak Ltd, Zesta Environmental Solutions Ltd and Erksarp Ventures. The rest are Apedum Waste Services Ltd, Bioland Ltd, Keen 2 Clean Services Ltd, New Era Waste Concept, Golden Falcom Ltd, Early Sunrise Trading Co. Ltd, Asadu Royal Seed Waste Management, Premko Waste Ltd, Savanah Waste Management Services Ltd, Upper East Waste Ltd, Urban Waste Ltd, BA Waste Ltd, Ashanti Waste Ltd, Eastern Waste Ltd, Coastal Waste Ltd, Meridian Waste Management Services, Jam Waste Management Company, Habana Waste Management Services and Home Refuse Collection Enterprise and many more.

Today, residents in the cities of Accra, Ho, Cape Coast, Bolgatanga, Koforidua, Kumasi, Tema, Tamale, Wa, Sunyani among others are able to smell and feel good as a result of the efforts of these private companies and we must of course appreciate them and the MMDAs.

The presence alone of these waste management companies in the city and urban centers, and Zoomlion in the most rural areas serve as a citadel of awareness creation among the people to manage waste and keep their surroundings clean. In the urban areas, there are many of these companies that are doing very well to augment government and Zoomlion’s efforts especially in street cleansing, door-to-door waste collection and janitorial works at homes and institutional levels.

Accra for instance is where so many of the private waste management companies are concentrated among which are Zoomlion, Zoom Alliance, Zoompak, Rural Waste, Accra Waste, UPPR, ACARP, Zoil Services Ltd and Apedum Services who engage in several waste management services in their effort to raid the city off filth. In the Tamale Metropolis, Zoomlion, Savana Waste, Jam Waste, Home Refuse Collection, Paxica in partnership with Nawabin and, Habana Waste with the Metropolitan Waste Management Department (MWMD) directly or indirectly partner to ensure that homes, offices, schools and institutions as well as the streets and markets are clean all the time despite residents insatiable attitude to generate and haphazardly dispose waste in the communities.

It therefore baffles to single out Zoomlion Ghana Limited which is a waste collector and not generator and blame it squarely for the filth that has been perceived to have engulfed the cities as stated by the minister.

I have so much respect for Hon. Kofi Adda over the years and I still do anyway but I think he had miscued his energy at the stakeholders forum to offset the current pressure on his ministry for doing little in the industry, he caused a total blunder on himself in the eyes of objective citizens for singling out and blaming Zoomlion who has worked day and night with others to bring Ghana this far in the area of waste management.

As a development communications practitioner I attended the forum and in fact I expected the minister to get adequate briefing on the activities of all the key players in the industry including the waste generators (the citizens). I expected him and those media men who carried the story with the headline “Sanitation minister blames Zoomlion ‘squarely’ for nation’s filth” to have shown some little objectivity in their conclusions. Before the programme could take the second phase Mr. Manasseh Azure Awine quickly interviewed only the minister as if it was planned, packed and left and that was the ploy to do a negative story and feed the other lazy media who copied and pasted “true copy” without recourse to the stakeholders’ discussions and resolutions.

When the second speaker Director General of Ghana Health Services, Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare stated that most important factors in the sanitation industry in Ghana was lack of clean water and opened defecation among others and urged Ghanaians to make waste management everybody’s responsibility that did not sound good in Mr. Azure’s ears to warrant headline. When the Acting Director of Graphic Communications Group, Mr. Ransford Tetteh rallied the media and civil society groups for a crusading effort to deal with the mounting filth that has sparked public outcry Azure did not see it necessary to use it to educate Ghanaians about the need for a concerted efforts to deal with the menace. When the Executive Chairman of the Jospong Group, Dr. Agyapong  said his group had positioned itself very well to support government to make Accra and largely Ghana the cleanest place and showed the various well established plants such as the waste transfer station, the compost plant, the Lavender Hill Plant, the dredging company working the Odaw Rirver and the many edifices his company has constructed to help solve the waste problems, Manasseh saw no news in it for Ghanaians rather it was the minister’s blame game thing that warranted multimedia’s space and how Manasseh said the CEO of Jospong was rather laughed at instead of praised when he compared Ghana with Zambia and said between the two country was Ghana was like London. That was Azure’s news, it remind me of Richmond Yaw Asamoah’s article last week on www. gahanaweb.com questioning your unjustifiable incessant attacks on Jospong. I think you should be bothered about how people are seeing your actions against the man. Or you think you are the only one who has head and the rest of us are zombies always waiting to take what Manasseh says it is hook line and sinker? No not at all, it isn’t that because we also carry heads on our necks and they are for thinking and reasoning my brother. We should use journalism to develop our country not to destroy successful individuals.

For the minister not to have understood his area very well after almost five quarters leaves much to be desired. How else could someone expect an experienced minister of Mr. Adda’s caliber to do due diligence before making such statement?

 For blaming Zoomlion who is a key player of waste management in Ghana rather than commending it for partnering with government over the years to ensuring clean Ghana is unfortunate and unthinkable. If anybody disagrees with me, my bet is he/she should stop Zoomlion operations in Ghana or his/her vicinity for just a period of four days, then we will know who is blamable in this industry.

Which private entity has educated Ghanaians and Africans for that matter on the need to keep the environment clean more than Zoomlion? Which private or public company has made majority of Ghanaians understand the need to keep their environment clean? Apart Zoomlion which other organization has extensively educated Ghanaians against open defecation, indiscriminate waste disposal and the need for households to keep dust bins in their homes that the minister is afraid or forgot to blame too?

If the minister was properly briefed how could he say the Accra Compost Plant was not functioning just because it was shut down for maintenance for only four days? Mr. Minister please check your intelligence department or handlers.

If the minister was fully and properly so briefed, he would have known that Accra has been zoned and Zoomlion doesn’t cover the whole of the capital of Ghana so the result of his mathematics would not have fallen on Zoomlion at all. He would have known that Tamale has been zoned into six and Zoomlion doesn’t cover every zone and it is as simple as that.

Unfortunately, we have to blame some of the media for not educating the public enough , how has the media and am writing about those who were present, how have they fared in educating the public to stop indiscriminate waste disposal before they were happily echoing the ministers unfortunate statement?

Why did the media especially reporters from the Multimedia not ask if the citizenry who dispose waste haphazardly were also blamable? Could you not have considered the fact that the media itself has not also been up and doing on waste management issues? Of all the stories multimedia has reported lately how many of them have urged Ghanaians among others to be cautious about how waste is being managed at their homes? You should be more worried about the log in your own eye before the one in Zoomlion’s eye.  How about the explanations the Zoomlion Chief Executive provided? did they not end in a mockery headlines? The lazy journalism of writing our headlines and leads at home and going to programmes must stop.

Journalism has gradually become ‘personalism’ in Ghana today where media men are now going after business men to favour their pay masters which stinks a lot. Have you read the Graphic banner headline story on Saturday March, 10? What will you call that? Nation builders isn’t it? 

  Zoomlion Ghana Limited is one of the private waste management entities established and owned by a Ghanaian, Dr. Joseph Siaw Agyepong (Honorary) which has grown into a multinational with several subsidiaries within the period of about eleven years.

With presence in the  international community operating with extensions in Equatorial Guinea, the republics of Togo, Liberia, Zambia and Angola I thought we needed to project the company to reach the peak not to keep painting a dark picture of it to deter investors and pull it down.

The owner Dr. Joseph Siaw Agyepong and the company and its subsidiaries have won several enviable local and international awards such as the KNUST Honorary Doctorate Degree, 2011, GOG Order of the Volta, 2008, Millennium Excellence, Leadership in Industry 2010, Finalist in the Masters Category of Ernst and Young West Africa Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2011, Liberian Government Golden Image Award, 2011. Others include Entrepreneurial Foundation of Ghana, Best Entrepreneur of the Year, 2011, Entrepreneurial Foundation of Ghana, Best Environmental Sanitation Company of the Year, 2010, Zoil: Best Company in the Application of Technology in Oil Waste Management, 2017, Business man of the year Magnate at Emy Exclusive Man of the Year Awards, 2017, Best Employer of the Year Award by GIPC, 2016 and many others.

 Does that not ring a bell Ghana?That even if the company and the owner have had challenges, there are certain things they got right? And when will the multimedia group say something positive in favour of the Jospong Group? Ghanaians are watching you.

In every MMDA the company has a District Manager who heads the team of two monitors, an administrative assistant and a number of drivers and janitors who draw salaries and have their SSNIT and provident funds contributions paid directly by Zoomlion. Others whose allowances are paid by government but mostly pre-financed by the company in collaboration with the Youth Employment Authority (YEA) are the Sanitation Guards under the Sanitation Improvement Project (SIP) and Spraying Gangs under the National Malaria Control Programme (NAMCOP) among others.

 In fact, Zoomlion is one of the highest employment avenues in Ghana, the company has employed some 3,000 core staff (made of directors, managers, foreign specialists, supervisors, officers, clerical staff, drivers, janitors etc etc). In addition to this, the company has engaged or caused to be engaged over 85,000 project staff across the country as was stated by the Chief Executive at the programme.

One remarkable mechanism worthy of commendation by the company is that, it has embarked over the years on rigorous national and community public education programmes using television, radio, durbars and fora, social media and the print to sensitize Ghanaians on the need to keep personal hygiene and their surroundings clean more than the Multimedia Group has done.

 This company constructed and established the Accra Compost and Recycling Plant, a three phase plant specialized in executing composting, recycling and liquid waste treatment, it has an edifice to temporally hold waste to be transferred by a bigger vehicle to the final disposal site, the company has a medical waste treatment plant to handle all waste generated from our hospitals using an autoclave and has built and operates the Lavender Hill treatment plant for liquid waste treatment. This company established a waste management institution of higher academic learning in furtherance of bringing knowledge and further training to its staff in Ghana and Sub-Sharan Africa called the African Institute of Sanitation and Waste Management (AISWAM) in collaboration with the KNUST.

 

In conclusion, I will like to advice that as a minister the onus lies on you to check your facts and double check them before coming out. If you have taken a decision elsewhere to paint the Zoomlion Company black, I think this forum was not the appropriate one to do so. Last week you were together with Zoomlion combing Accra and cleaning quarters and streets in ensuring that the city was clean. Which other partners were visible during that remarkable sanitation day and you praised them just to blame them a week later is and indictment on your reputation.

Our culture is not one of kill him/her let us not hate local institutions that are doing well.

Let the media intensify as urged by the Graphic Communications Group the education of the general public to contribute their quota to a cleaner environment, let us commend those key players who are doing their bit to keep Ghana clean for a better tomorrow.

Let Ghanaians take Dr. Asare’s advice seriously and come together to fight the sanitation menace to its logical conclusion.

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The writer Karim Yelma Kassim is a Development Communications Consultant based in Northern Ghana and can be reached on +233 504342890 and asaalaba@rocketmail.com

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