The Accra Mayor, Alfred Oko Vanderpuije, on Monday attributed the outbreak of Cholera in the Metropolis to poor liquid waste handling and insanitary conditions under which food is prepared for public consumption and not poor solid waste disposal.
Accra has recorded 826 cases of cholera with 17 confirmed deaths as compared to 3,000 cases and 24 deaths recorded within the same period last year due to preventive measures put in place, but the Accra Mayor says a lot more needs to be done.
Addressing a press conference in Accra on the state of sanitation in the Metropolis, Mr Vanderpuije bemoaned the practice of food selling along drains and the poor conditions under which food was prepared and noted that clean and hygienic surroundings were the responsibility of all.
“Watch what you eat and where it is prepared, who you buy water from is also very crucial”.
He said hawkers would continuously be ejected from the streets because they had been identified as sources of transmitting bacteria and viruses to unsuspecting clients, adding,
“Most hawkers hardly wash their hands after visiting places of convenience and sell contaminated food and water to their clients”.
Mr Vanderpuije said the Accra Metropolitan Assembly would leave no stone unturned to nib the problem in the bud.
He said “Lavender Hill”, an euphemism for a smelly part of Accra, where liquid waste and raw human faeces are poured into the sea, would be eliminated by June this year, and announced that a contract had been awarded to Slamson Ghana Limited to supervise liquid waste disposal in the Metropolis.
Mr Vanderpuije said equipment and all other machines needed for the installation of digestors for the project had been ordered to put an end to the traditional way of disposal of liquid waste.
Mr Fredrick Sunesson, Managing Director of the company said the technology to be used with separate liquid waste from solid waste.
The liquid waste would be treated for irrigational purposes while the solid waste turned into fertilizer.
Dr John B. K. Yabani, Metropolitan Director of Health Services, cautioned the public to be cautious of what they eat and drink at funerals explaining that a bacterium called Vibrio cholera which causes cholera could stay in a house fly for 14 days.
He said because of the contaminated nature of a cholera corpse, it was advisable that burial of such corpses were done under strict supervision of health workers and advised the public to cooperate with health officials.
AMA officials are already sensitising residents especially food vendors on the need to observe personal and food hygiene to curb the spread of cholera and indicated that food vendors who prepared food under unhygienic conditions would be prosecuted.
Accra Metropolis needs about 2,000 environmental officers, but currently has about 150 officers who were working under much strain and urged the public to help by reporting such recalcitrant people as well as households without toilets to the AMA.
A recent survey by the Assembly revealed that most houses in the metropolis did not have toilet facilities, resulting in the indiscriminate defecation into drains and open spaces.
This notwithstanding, Mr Vanderpuije has indicated his resolve to ensure that houses in the metropolis had toilet facilities and made pan latrines in the Metropolis a thing of the past.
As at September last year, over 117,000 houses in the Metropolis did not have toilet facilities but it has been reduced to 43,324 by December 2011, while the number of pan latrines has reduced from a little over 5,000 to 576 as at March this year.