ADMINISTRATORS at the Bolgatanga Municipal Assembly have thrown cleanliness to the dogs with a flimsy excuse that the assembly lacked funds to evacuate the overflowing refuse containers.
Filth is gradually engulfing the Municipality which was adjudged the cleanest in Ghana, and given the "Cleanest City Award" in 2004.
Having received this worthy award, one would have thought that would have spurred the people in the Municipality to be more responsibly in maintaining a clean environment, and encourage the managers to continue to strive for more honours.
But, nine years on, the municipality is facing serious sanitation problems, as little has been done to keep the city clean.
If immediate action is not taken to address the situation, it would soon pose a health hazard to residents.
For the past one month, refuse containers in the municipality have not been emptied. When this reporter visited the sites of most of the containers, it was clear that residents were now pouring refuse at beside the containers, because they were full to the brim. The contents of some of the containers are also often set on fire.
It is clear that while residents are dumping refuse indiscriminately and littering every part of the municipality, the administrators are also not living up to the task.
All attempts by this reporter to get some explanations from the administrators of the assembly hit some challenges, as they avoided responsibility over who speaks on the issue. When contacted, the Municipal Chief Executive, Mr. Edward Ayiriba, invited his Coordinating Director, Mr. Yakubu Alhassan to his office.
The two met and concluded that they needed to meet with the Municipal Sanitation Officer, Mr. Leo Logochura, to give them an overview of the sanitation situation in the city. They then asked this reporter to call later to find out if they were able to meet with Leo.
Two days of communication with the Coordinator and the MCE showed that they had failed to meet with the sanitation officer. The Coordinator, Mr. Yakubu, later referred this reporter to Leo to speak on the subject, since he was traveling out of the municipality.
When Leo was reached, he also declined comment. He explained that if the MCE, the Coordinating Director, and the Transport Officer would not speak, he had no such authority.
For the second time, when the MCE was contacted, he explained that the assembly lacked funds to provide fuel for the sanitation trucks. According to him, the assembly had not received its Common Fund allocation for the first and second quarters of this year.
He said as a result, the assembly was highly indebted to filling stations which they had taken fuel from, and could no longer go for more. When asked why the Internally Generated Fund (IGF) could not be used in keeping the municipality clean, the MCE claimed that some of the revenue collectors were also performing abysmally, and the little they collect does not also come to the assembly's coffers.
As a measure, no revenue is accrued from the IGF, according to the MCE.
He said those collectors had been shown the exit, and new ones would be soon be recruited to replace them.
Some assembly members in the municipality, including the Presiding Member, Mr. John Nyaaba, were not happy with the lukewarm attitude of the assembly towards sanitation issues.
Mr. Nyaaba was of the view that the assembly was not attaching importance to sanitation issues, and not that there was no fund. He claimed that when the assembly constituted a revenue taskforce, a lot of money was realised, but wondered what the money was used for, and why such move could not be repeated to raise enough money for the assembly.
He added that lack of commitment was retarding the revenue generating efforts of the assembly, and called on the administrators to sit up and carry out their responsibilities as expected of them.
Mr. Fred A. Apana, Assembly Member for Atulbabisi Electoral Area in the Bolgatanga Municipality, said: "We've contacted the assembly and ZoomLion, and they are both complaining of fuel. And some of us are not trying to agree with them, because they assembly is there because of the people, and once we have a spot where the refuse are supposed to be dumped for the assembly to pick, and the assembly is saying they have no money, some of us will not understand them."
He expressed fear that since we were in the rainy season, should there be an outbreak of a disease, its devastating effects would be unbearable.
Mr. Apana reminded the managers of the assembly that if anything goes wrong, they are to blame, just like if all is well, they are to take the credit. They should, therefore, be responsible and responsive to the cry of the people.
As if to compound the poor sanitation situation, open defecation in the municipality seems to have become a normal practice, as every uncompleted building, undeveloped plot, scrubs and the peripheries of refuse containers have been turned into places of convenience.
Recently, the Kassena-Nankana East and West districts in the Upper East Region recorded about 100 cases of cholera, resulting in the deaths of three persons. Health personnel attributed the outbreak of the disease to poor sanitation in the two districts.