By Kofi Ampeah-Woode, Accra
Four hundred personnel from the Support Services Brigade and the Army Headquarters of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), joined hands with other personnel from the Ghana Police Service, Ghana Prisons Service and the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), to partner the Ministries of Local Government and Rural Development, and of Water and Sanitation, to take advantage of the lockdown to clean the business district of Accra.
The cleanup exercise started from Friday, 3rd April and ended of Sunday 5th April, 2020, with the participation of 1000 men and women from Zoomlion Company Limited, over 500 men from Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), and other municipalities and districts in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area, also providing personnel for the exercise.
The exercise cleaned the streets, the open spaces, the markets and lorry stations, desilted the gutters within the city business center, emptied all roadside bins, encouraged the households in the business district to bring out their refuse for collection, as the cleaning service providers in all the communities, such as Zoomlion and Asadu, cleared all the refuse gathered.
A high-powered entourage of the Military High Command, which visited the troops to witness the work of the deployed personnel, included the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) – Lieutenant General (Lt Gen) Obed Boamah Akwa, the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) – Major General (Maj Gen) Thomas Oppong-Peprah, the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) – Rear Admiral (R/Adm) Seth Amoama, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) – Air Vice Marshal Frank Hanson and the Chief of Staff (CoS) – R/Adm Issah Adams Yakubu.
Others were the Chief Staff Officer (CSO), Army HQ – Brigadier General (Brig Gen) Michael Amoah-Ayisi, Acting General Officer Commanding (GOC), SP SRV BDE GP and military Coordinator of the exercise – Colonel (Col) Kenneth Kweku Kwaah Kumi, Director, Directorate of Public Relations (DPR) – Col Eric Aggrey-Quashie and the Military Attache to the CDS – Col Eric Boamponsem. The Inspector General of Police (IGP) – Mr Oppong-Boanuh, later visited the troops.
The civilian Coordinator of the exercise, who also represented the two Ministries – the Metropolitan Chief Executive (MCE) of AMA – Mr Mohamed Adjei Sowah, underscored the importance of the use of heavy equipment (such as payloaders, backhoe excavators and tipper trucks) in the exercise, in carting away collected debris, in order to have no debris leftovers after the third day of the exercise.
The MCE, entreated security personnel manning mounted checks at various parts of the city, to as much as possible, discourage people from going to the city center, but to direct them back to their community markets, since they can find there whatever food items needed, stressing that the essence of food items exemption from the lockdown, does not mean one can travel long distances in search for food items.
“Just about a week ago, we desilted the entire drain at Agbogbloshie, however, by the time of the announcement of the lockdown, the entire drain had been choked once again”, the Accra Mayor stated.
The entourage, which was joined by the MCE, chanced on market women at the entrance of the Makola market, which is near the Electricity Company of Ghana, opposite the Ghana Law School, who were not observing the social or spatial distancing protocol (as one of the pictures of this publication would confirm), yet the AMA Chief Executive, in a media engagement after the tour, was in denial of such an activity, but said that the breach was rather happening at the Agbogbloshie market.
In that interview, it was suggested to the MCE to utilize open spaces like the Polo Park, the Independence Square, the Rawlings Park and other possible openings, as markets which could be spaced enough, as has been executed in the Tema Metropolis, the MCE replied that Tema is a well planned city and thus, their situation is different.
Fortunately, the Minister for Information, in an interview on JoyNews TV on the evening of April 5th, 2020, admitted to the difficulty and threatened that if the market women would not execute that protocol, then the option to close down the entire markets would be considered.
Thankfully, the Information Minister, in that referred interview, urged heads of assemblies to explore innovative means to help implement such measures as the social/spatial distancing.
Speaking to the media after the tour, the Spokesman for GAF – Col Aggrey-Quashie, stated that for the Armed Forces, the exercise was to reinforce their contribution to national development, as it is part of the tasks that they are assigned, from time to time.
“We released a total of four hundred (400) all ranks to this exercise for Accra alone, and this is besides the soldiers participating in the Operation COVID-19, which is overseeing the lockdown, together with the Ghana Police Service”.
“I want to use this opportunity to urge that these national sanitation days should be used for such works, where all shops are locked up and everyone who operates a shop gets involved, so that volunteers such as the patrons of the market also get involved, because if the market is dirty, you would be buying compromised foodstuffs to create problems for yourself”, the GAF Spokesman suggested.