Accra’s mayor gets tough on littering in Ghana
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By the time the mayor of Accra has counted to ten, you had better have picked up the litter you left on the sidewalk. During a visit to a market in the centre of the Ghanaian capital last week, Mayor Alfred Oko Vanderpuije surprised passersby with his martial method of enforcing cleanliness.
The mayor paid a visit to a central market this week, accompanied by several soldiers and police officers. He zoned in on several market vendors who had thrown rubbish in the gutter. Then, he told them to pick up the trash… quickly. “I’m counting to ten… watch out!” he yelled into a microphone. The vendors scrambled to clean up the garbage, to the entertainment of the assembled crowd.
In a message written in Twi, Accra’s mayor demanded that market vendors clear up their rubbish.
"We aren’t going to change people’s mindsets with these crude methods"The video of the scene was published online last week and sparked wide discussion on the mayor’s methods. Some people thought he acted inappropriately, while others thought his tough tone was necessary to get people to act.
Nii Ayertey is a blogger in Accra.
I was shocked by the mayor’s crude strategy and how he made sure to be flanked by soldiers and police officers in order to intimidate the market vendors.
To my knowledge, this is the first time the mayor has ever done something like this and it’s quite abnormal behaviour for him [Editor’s note: Alfred Oko Vanderpuije has, however, already jumped in to participate in city regulation. He once started directing traffic himself as you can see in this video].
The mayor decided to take a stand against rubbish and littering after Accra experienced deadly floods in June that led to the deaths of 150 people [Editor’s note: Most of the casualties occurred when a building exploded after the floods]. Authorities said that one of the reasons that so much water accumulated was because many drains were blocked up with litter.
I personally don’t think that the mayor’s method will inspire anyone to stop littering. Instead of pulling off publicity stunts in public, he should try to raise awareness about the issue amongst Ghanaians and, importantly, install rubbish bins across the city that people can use.
The Ghanaian capital is one of 10 of the most polluted cities in the world, despite the fact that the country has received millions of euros from international funds to help manage its waste.
The Ghanaian government has asked citizens to help clean up the country and declared the first Saturday of each month a “National Sanitation Day”.