The Pantang dump site, near the Pantang Psychiatric Hospital, one of the oldest and largest dump sites in Accra, has undoubtedly become an obvious health hazard in the fast growing residential area.
The site, believed to have started in the 1990s, is currently the recipient of tonnes of waste generated in many parts of the capital.
The dump site, approximately the size of two football pitches is covered with a mountain of solid waste reaching into the skies.
A cloud of thick smoke hang over the entire community resulting from the constant burning going on at the site. That is not the only problem, a stream of poisonous liquid waste leaches from the mountain of refuse, seeping into residential homes of angry and frustrated residents.
The disgusting spectacle and obvious catastrophe waiting to happen has not deterred scores of city dwellers in search of homes from building close to the area.
A tour of the site by Myjoyonline.com Wednesday revealed that although poorly equipped personnel tasked to manage the facility were on site, nothing much is going on.
Scavengers – young and old – at the mercy of the toxic fumes and stench emanating from the site comb through the dirt for anything useful. They compete with garbage trucks for every inch of space.
Attempts to speak to some of the scavengers proved futile but John Badu, who is a caretaker of a four-bedroom structure being put up by his brother, very close to the dump site, lamented the situation is an eyesore.
He has been there for the past two years and life has been very unbearable due to the smoke and stench. Due to this, he has not been able to live in relative comfort and is contemplating relocating.
John Badu claimed that his brother bought the land before the dump site expanded considerably. He said his brother has visited twice and regrets the state of affairs.
Ndinya Worlanyo, a Pastor at the Jesus Full Grace Vineyard Church, whose church is about 50 metres away from the dump site did not mince words in saying the situation is “very bad.”
He revealed that residents “went to a meeting in order to close this [refuse dump site] down but all attempts that have been made has failed. We don’t know the reason why.”
The pastor lamented about the effects of the fumes on the Pantang Psychiatric Hospital and the patients there. “Those people there, they are human beings. We shuldn’t say because it’s Pantang and some of them are disorganized we should be doing things that will hurt them.”
Commenting on the effects the site has on church activities, he said “the odour is too pungent. Very pungent, you can’t even breathe here especially when the bulldoze [levels] it.”
Health and communicable diseases:
There is currently a cholera outbreak in the in the country killing several persons in Accra alone. The pandemic is related to insanitary conditions occassioned by open drains and poor management of liquid waste.
“We are praying to God that such outbreaks shouldn’t affect the community here because we are just close to the [dump site]. Even not cholera alone there are a lot of diseases. If you don’t know and you get any infection even the smoke can kill you, it is very dangerous. ”
He insisted the dump site is disturbing the community but doubted if something will be done about the situation.
Eric Turkson, an Assistant Supervisor of Universal Oil, a filling station about 100 metres away from the dump site said he has suffered heart complications because of the fumes from the dump site.
“I’ve got heart attack because of the smoke. I went to the hospital to check and they said I should go and do endoscopic [tests]. At times I get heart burns,” he said.
Bad for business:
Eric Turkson said some drivers are not patronising the filling station because of the toxic smoke from the site. “We are losing business.”
Just like some workers who have quit the job because of the health complications, he is also planning to leave before it is too late.
Managers of a food production company close to the dump site declined to speak to Myjoyonline.com about the effects on their business for of what they say “victimisation”.
Encroaching on illegal dump land?
There have reports that all the structures springing up around the dump site are illegal. According some residents, some occupants have acquired the lands illegally with the hope that the dump site will be closed down.
A resident, who did not want her identity to be known, told Myjoyonline.com that she has lived in the area for seven years now and that she came to meet the dump site there.
She alleged that residents were fully aware of the existence of the dump site and its effects but still went ahead to buy the land to put up their structures.
According to her, since the land was acquired illegally, she wondered why residents are crying foul. Nevertheless, she urged authorities to also consider the cries and pleas of residents and do something about the situation.
Part two of this write-up will be published next week.
Story/Video: Ernest Dela Aglanu (Twitter: @delaXdela / Instagram: citizendela)
Photos: David Andoh Story by Ghana | Myjoyonline.com | Ernest Dela Aglanu (Twitter: @delaXdela / Instagram: citizendela)
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