General News of Wednesday, 21 March 2018
Executive Chairman of Jospong Group of Companies, Mr Jospeh Siaw-Agyepong, has urged the government to support private companies in the management and control of waste and sanitation glitches in Ghana.
According to him, no government could be able to develop a country, particularly in the area of waste and sanitation management, without proper private sector participation, and thus called on the current administration to inject funds to support its growth.
Addressing stakeholders at a forum organized by IMANI Africa to address immediate steps to tackle sanitation and its related issues at the British Council yesterday in Accra, Mr. Siaw-Agyepong noted that it will be extremely difficult for any government to make many meaningful impacts in solving the sanitation menace without cushioning the private waste companies in their operations.
He bemoaned the politicisation of businesses, which usually occurs after a change of government, and said the practice of especially colouring private business political was unhealthy.
He stressed the need for successive governments to ensure continuity of businesses to promote the growth of local entrepreneurs.
Using the Zoomlion example, he enumerated its various achievement since its establishment in 2006 to manage waste in the country and create jobs for thousands of Ghanaians and called for the protection of other local businesses supporting the economy.
“Emphasis on local content is key, empowering indigenous Ghanaian companies is key, local collaboration to undertake government projects should be encouraged and stimulus packages to local private sector should be implemented…I believe we are on the right track and as a Group of Company; we would do our best to support the government to create sustainable jobs. Indeed, we have the skills set to continue on that path.
“All that we in the private sector have to do is to continually re-examine our business creating models for the mutual benefit of both the public and the private sectors. When this is done we will be placed on the right track of creating jobs and entrepreneurial skills to help harness the powerful potential of creativity in our teeming youth,” he pointed out.
Mr. Siaw-Agyepong said about 60 percent of the sanitation challenges in Ghana and Africa, in general, was a human problem, attitude and educational challenge; and this is beside the absence of appropriate funding policies, regulatory framework, infrastructural and planning.
He, therefore, called on the government and other development agencies working in the sector to support organizations such as Zoomlion and others to lead the sanitation crusade.
He said: “these are critical requirements and until government works together with the requisite stakeholders to pull resources together to transform the current situation, these occasional sanitation days will only be an expression of desire and nothing more.”
Policy think, IMANI Africa, also called for the immediate abolishment of the National Sanitation Day (NSD) introduced by the former President John Mahama’s administration to help in managing waste in Ghana.
Vice President of IMANI Africa, Kofi Bentil, who doubled as the moderator of the forum, explained that the programme was counter-productive and cannot be the solution to the poor sanitation problem the country was currently grappling with.
He said the policy had not been successful in fulfilling its main objective of creating awareness and instilling a sanitation culture in the citizenry.
Mr Bentil noted that the programme even though was well-intended, lacked what it would take to promote long-term social behavioural changes in the citizenry.
“The fact that people meet every month to clean their communities, and the fact that filth and other insanitary conditions still persists immediately after cleaning those communities, is an ample proof that nothing has changed or is changing,” he said.
Mr. Bentil does not see why corporate heads, presidents, doctors, chief executives must leave their offices and enter the gutters or sweep the streets to keep the country clean.
“In my view the NSD programme would have been long dead if it was not for Zoomlion’s committed support and in spite of that support, it is very evident now that the NSD will not solve the country’s endemic sanitation challenges.”
“Communal cleaning, this thing about National Sanitation Day, this thing about getting officers, ministers, civil servants, doctors teachers from behind their desks to clean gutters, streets is wrong. It is bad. It is an example of a failed system. It is a position we hold at IMANI,” he said.
“The cost of getting civil servants from their desks to go and sweep the street is very high… It is a misapplication of resources. If you put a doctor in a gutter and he gets typhoid and dies that is a waste of a lot of money. Presidents have jumped into and the gutters and for 30 years those gutters are still not clean. Communal cleaning should stop because it is not the panacea to the sanitation problem in the country.” he added.
He would rather labourers are employed to do the job. He said a country where corporate heads, doctors are seen cleaning the streets is an example of a failed state.
For his part, Mayor of Accra, Mohammed Adjei Sowah, who was present at the forum, however, disagreed.
The Sanitation and Water Resources Minister, Joseph Kofi Adda, equally disagreed. He said the sanitation programme, even though was not the solution to the poor sanitation, provided a symbolic gesture to get everybody involved in cleaning the country of filth.
He agreed in part with the view that political heads, civil servants can help in the sanitation fight.