The 64th Annual New Year School and Conference opened at the University of Ghana on Monday. This year's theme is "The Key to Future Health of our Country: Water, Sanitation and Hygiene".
Delivering the keynote address, Dr. Joseph Siaw Agyepong, Executive Chairman of Zoomlion & Jospong Group of Companies, attributed the current insanitary conditions which have engulfed the country to "systematic failure of policy implementation".
His words: "Lack of interest on the part of authorities to ensure the speedy implementation of strategies and action plans has resulted in a lack of receptiveness on the part of the deprived to accept the argument that good sanitation practices hold the key to true health and longevity."
To the uninformed, this may sound like too harsh a criticism of the authorities - government and its agencies - especially, in view of the news this week that Cabinet had approved a 25-year US$940 million sanitation investment plan to address the numerous sanitation challenges facing the country in the long term.
But we are not talking about evolving policies, that is easily and quickly done, like the 25-year plan above, but policy implementation. According to Dr. Agyepong, the policy implementation the authorities are shying away from, include the "setting up of sanitation courts" to ensure the effective prosecution of offenders.
Now what is the big deal about setting up of a policy mechanism as simple as a mobile sanitation court, with millions of unemployed Ghana School of Law graduates fighting over discharge- and-bail applicants at the courts and police stations?
Yet civil servants would not touch it with a long pole. Why? Simple! There is no 10 per cent "kick front" to look forward to as motivation.
The result is that for 2012 alone, there were 7,000 reported cases of cholera, with 70 deaths. Of course, none of the victims could be the relatives of civil servants, so it is just statistics to them, but God has a way of holding accountable people, who deliberately fail in their assigned duties for selfish reasons and appear untouchable.
The Chronicle looks forward to the 6th Parliament's thorough scrutiny and approval of US$940 million cabinet investment plan for sanitation, so that the money could be found, and the plan implemented expeditiously.
And we hope that when the time comes, the whole of the money would not be camped in Accr, but devolved to the districts, so that the assemblies would be enabled to implement their grassroots measures against filth, and for the improvement of water supply.
The Chronicle finds it a sad commentary on the quality and pro-activeness of our leaders that almost 56 years after independence, our people die needlessly from cholera infection, and suffer other water borne diseases.
The Chronicle calls on all in public office, who constantly shout from the rooftops that they went there to serve the people, to shape up and walk their talk.