Thursday, May 30, 2013

Polluter Pays Principle Needs Legislative Backing For Healthy Environment - NGO

Environmental pollution
By Patrick Baidoo

Ghana’s drive towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on sanitation could be described as appalling, looking at the current 14 percent threshold as against the 2015 United Nations deadline target of 54 percent.

The road to achieving the MDGs have had various challenges in terms of funding, lack of enforcement of laws on sanitation, un-availability of waste collection facilities and bad attitude on the part of the citizens towards good sanitary practices, among others.

Hence, as part of holistic measures to put the necessary checks and balances to avert the problems enumerated, Ghana’s cabinet in December, 2011 approved the “Polluter Pays Principle” as part of efforts to generate additional revenue for environmental management.

The Polluter Pays Principle (PPP) is an environmental policy principle, which requires that the costs of pollution be borne by those who cause it.

The principle is under the government’s revised environmental sanitation policy, which provides opportunity for waste generators at all corners to contribute or pay spot fines towards sustainable financing of waste management services.

But since the cabinet’s approval of the PPP, there has not been a legislative instrument (LI) to detail how the policy should be implemented from the district to the national levels for the needed benefits.

After almost two years of cabinet’s backing and a directive by the President John Mahama to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) to take steps to ensure that the policy goes through the required legislative processes to make it enforceable in the country, the PPP still seems to be stuck on the shelves while serious polluting of the environment was going on.

This situation, according to Mr. Clement Ansah, Executive Director, Green Earth, was detrimental to the country’s quest to ensure a safer environment, hence the needed steps have to be taken by the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development for the PPP to have legislative backing for a healthy Ghana.

“In spite of the huge investments that go into the sector from government, MMDAs and development partners, little impact is made in terms of cleanliness on the streets, markets, open spaces and places of convenience. The PPP will avert the situation because people will stop littering if they know that they will be surcharged for polluting.”

He said the perennial floods in cities and towns during rains require drastic measures like strict enforcement of national and assembly by-laws on sanitation and the provision of needed resources and infrastructure.

On a daily basis, choked gutters in Alajo, Nima, Odawna and several others in Accra become tributaries to the Korle Lagoon which also passes the garbage of the society, including human and plastic waste, into the belly of the sea.

“The sea then becomes the reservoir not only for the fish that human beings so eagerly feed on, but the storehouse of the garbage citizens gleefully dispose off, even human excreta which is injurious to aquatic life.

The end result is that we feed the sea with garbage and eat the fish from the sea with our garbage,” he noted.

Mr. Ansah indicated that the PPP will help the various district authorities to raise money and save money that they spend on waste management on other projects because those who pollute would be paying for their nuisance instead of using money’s earmarked for infrastructure development on that purpose.

“The AMA alone spent a total of GH¢7,960 on sanitation between January and June, last year. The assembly also spends GH¢600,000 monthly to maintain sanitary sites and another GH¢240,000 on dumping sites.

The PPP was adopted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries in 1972 and required that the polluter should bear the costs of pollution damage or pollution control.

“This situation can be averted when citizens, institutions and companies are held accountable for their actions through the PPP for a healthy environment because our water bodies are polluted, the gutters are choked, and the communities are flooded each year all because we have relaxed the laws that are meant to check nuisance in society hence this must stop,” the Executive Director stressed.

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