General News of Wednesday, 20 December 2017
The stench emanating from the Oti engineered landfill site nearly put me off my scheduled tour of the facility last Monday.
But, my host, the manager of the Engineered Landfill Waste Management Department of the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA ), Mr Michael Morrison Nyarko, allayed my fears. With a smile on his face, he said, ” There is no cause for alarm, you are safe.”
“Landfill by its nature can never be 100 per cent stench-free. Once a while you feel the odour emanating to the community but it’s not anything dangerous,” he explained.
It was my second visit to the sprawling Oti landfill where between 1,000 and 1,200 metric tonnes of waste from Kumasi is dumped daily.
The first was in 2004 when the landfill was officially opened. At that time, the landfill site stood alone, but on Monday I realised that a lot had changed since then. People have built close to the landfill in spite of the environmental and health threats that come with living close to such sites.
Located at Oti, a community which is popularly known as Kuwait, the landfill sits on a 100-acre land.
Part of the land has been used to create a buffer for the Oti community. The authorities have planted trees of various species and according to Mr Nyarko, the vegetative cover controlled the odour so it was not that serious for people in the neighbourhood.
Nonetheless, the community had cause to complain in the past. In September 2016, for instance, some residents were reported to have staged a demonstration against the KMA’s alleged failure to properly manage the landfill site, which the protesters claimed led to a pungent smell all over the community.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acknowledges the potential environmental hazards associated with landfilling of waste, which includes the possible contamination of the groundwater and surface water bodies, the uncontrolled migration of landfill gas,and the generation of odour, noise and visual nuisance.
Consequently, the agency has set out ground rules for the design, development and management of landfills to keep them to the standards required for a safe environment.
The KMA has handed over the management of the landfill to a private company. J. Stanley Owusu Limited, but the assembly was providing supervision to ensure that the right things were done.
However, the KMA owes the company in cost of management. As a result, the company faces difficulties discharging its obligations to the fullest.
“For us, it is not the best, but I am happy that the city mayor has shown commitment to get this problem solved,” Mr Nyarko said.
The major activities at the site include dumping by trucks and tricycles, spreading of the waste by bulldozers, compacting of the waste by a compactor and covering of the waste.
But, if one of the activities is truncated, it affects the entire chain.
For some time now, the access road has not been watered and the dust is a health hazard.
Three types of vehicles dispose refuse daily. They include skips, compacted trucks and roll-on-of. There are also tricycles popularly known as borla taxi.
The tricycles are the most difficult to manage because of the attitudes of the riders. “Sometimes, they leave waste on the road and we have to look for trucks to convey it to the landfill,” Mr Nyarko stated.
For over 13 years that the Oti Landfill has existed, it has not seen any major rehabilitation.
However, a sign of hope appears to have emerged since Mr Osei Assibey Antwi took over as KMA Chief Executive.
An NGO, Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP), in collaboration with the KMA, is about to start the rehabilitation of the waste stabilisation pond, which takes care of liquid waste. Also included in the project is the construction of drying beds and settling tanks.
It is a $350,000 project the contract of which was signed yesterday in Kumasi.
On completion, the system will become new again and people within the enclave, who see it as a burden, will be relieved.
According to the Metro Director of waste management, Mr Prosper Kotoka, the Major has shown keen interest in the project and that the assembly was looking for additional funding of $405,000 for the second phase of the rehabilitation.
There have been unfulfilled promises by the KMA over the years to convert the waste at the landfill into energy.
It is a sad situation that the assembly struggles to manage the about 1,500 metric tonnes of waste generated in the metropolis daily when this waste can serve as raw material for energy generation.
Since the beginning of the year, a number of private firms have made proposals to the assembly to turn the waste to energy and there are prospects.
Expectations are that this will see the light of the day as it will be in the interests of the assembly and the people of Kumasi.