“When you arrive in Rwanda, at Kigali airport you will see a large sign reading Use of non-biodegradable polythene bags is prohibited”- Tod Hardn There’s one war Ghanaians are struggling to win, which have taken us years. A war that needs all citizens on deck to help win. This is a war that needs no guns, bow and arrow, grenades nor spears, but a change of attitude and mind.
The fight against poor sanitation or refuse management in Rwanda had won them the cleanest city in Africa and citizens in Rwanda are helping their sanitation authorities win the fight so simple by abiding by simple byelaws on sanitation in their various cities and towns. Kigali, the capital is one of the densely populated cities in Africa but citizens are able to abide by the rules which have earned the country great respect in Africa and the world.
In 2008, Rwanda banned the use of plastics or non-biodegradable polythene bags in order to save their country of filth and floods, a great feat, some western countries are finding difficult to achieve. Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, in his famous 1957 polo grounds independence speech said “…And, as I pointed out…from now on, we must change our attitudes and our minds. We must realize that from now on we are no longer a colonial but a free and independent people”
Dr Nkrumah, foresaw that, before we can achieve greater heights and call ourselves a free and independent country, we must change our attitudes and mindset, but it seems our first President’s words was never taken serious by some citizens, because we’re yet to change our attitudes and mind, especially in the fight against poor sanitation.
Rwanda had independence in 1962, 5 years after Ghana’s independence, 32 years down the lane; the country was plunged into a civil war that resulted in a lot of death casualties. The country was in total mess, but that didn’t deter the Rwandans, they stood up from the ashes, cleaned themselves up and with the words from Dr Kwame Nkrumah, they rebuilt their country, which is now the envy of many nations.
A change of attitude and mind.
I want to see a people who are dedicated to seeing that Ghana is beautiful with a green environment, clean streets, and flood free drains. These are some of the things that have made Rwanda the ish and a destination for tourists across the world. We need to see a Ghana, where plastics and polythene bags are recycled for other uses which are friendly to the environment and also add up to our GDP. The government alone can’t win the war against filth, if the citizens are not willing to be disciplined enough to know how and where to dispose off waste properly.
In Rwanda, every citizen is a sanitation watch dog for the country, so no one dare litter around expecting other citizens to look on unconcerned! To show the world that, the black man is capable of managing his own affairs, we need to go the Rwandan way, where littering around is a taboo and good sanitation needs to be the headache of every responsible citizen of the land.
We need a country, where “KEEP GHANA CLEAN” wouldn’t just be an inscription but an action backed campaign and championed by all and sundry. Our various lorry parks must have stringent sanitation bye-laws binding all drivers and users of the station to maintain sanity.
Ghana can do more and become better than Rwanda, when we all decide to be self-disciplined and see the fight against littering and poor waste management as personal concern not that of our leaders alone.
Columnist:Emmanuel Agyemfra Boateng