By James Amoh Junior
NF-(FEATURE)– It was jubilation galore as residents of Tema and party supporters alike, many of whom were clad in party paraphernalia, danced to the blurring sounds from mounted speakers in a jarring fashion.
They savoured the moment and appeared so far removed from their long suffering following the shutdown of the sewage system built in 1963. A problem of old was to be fixed with the construction of a new Sewer Network and Waste Water Treatment Plant at the hitherto touted most planned city in the country – Tema.
The weather was unmistakably pleasant and equable as there had been slight showers in the early hours of that Sunday, October 25, 2020 and clouds had begun to form yet again. It was at the peak of an intense electioneering campaign and residents from Tema and its environs defied the threats of rain and thronged Tema Community Three.
At the start of the ceremonious sod-cutting of a modern waste water treatment plant, Apostle Mathew Buettey-Larbi, Tema Area Head, Church of Pentecost, was at his spiritual best as was the Sakomo Wolomo, Nii Ashiboi Kofi, who poured libation all the while fostering syncretism, right after the Apostle said an opening prayer.
But some residents whose joy it was to see the commencement of the project, reckon their excitement was seemingly short-lived as they looked forward to seeing some physical works at the project site, nearly a year after the rather grand and impressive sod-cutting ceremony.
Emmanuel Boakyi, 57, resident of Community Three, who expressed optimism, however, said: “the project has come as a relief to remedy our long suffering, and in spite of the seeming tardiness, I had not thrown my hands in despair and I can only wait unabatedly for its commencement.”
While painting a rather vivid, albeit unpleasant imagery of the situation which has persisted for years, he asserted that “we are exposed to serious health hazards as a result of the collapsed treatment plant and some fecal matter from manholes spill over when it rains and sometimes end up on walkways with accompanying pungent smell.”
Tema is the only planned city in West Africa with a central sewerage network, pumping station and a treatment facility. The Tema Sewerage System was constructed and commissioned in 1963 and consequently rehabilitated in 1994 for the collection, transport and treatment of human excreta and grey water within the Tema Metropolis.
The management was under the control of the then Tema Development Corporation until 1998 when it was transferred to the Tema Metropolitan Assembly (TMA).
Currently, almost all the sewer lines have become obsolete and overage as the whole treatment facility has been shut down and raw sewage flows through a bypass directly into the sea without treatment causing some discomfort to road users on portions of the Tema Beach Road.
It is very normal to see raw untreated sewage running through open drains and gushing out onto streets in Tema thereby creating environmental pollution and serious health hazards for residents.
The initial design capacity of the plant was 20,000 cubic meter per day for a total population of 14,937. But according to the Ghana Statistical Service 2019, the current population of Tema stands at 360,828, hence the need to construct a new sewerage system to remedy the age-old problem.
Proposed Project and Benefits
The proposed treatment plant is a modern waste water treatment plant – a combined system that will treat both waste water from the network and faecal or septage from trucks.
Its capacity is 44,000 cubic meter per day for wastewater from the sewer network and 1000 cubic meter per day septage from septic trucks for areas that are not on the network.
The entire process will comprise the construction of an entirely new treatment plant, the rehabilitation or retrofitting of the pumping stations and the construction of a new reticulation system or sewer network.
The end products of the process will be that; sledge will be mixed with greeneries and household waste to valorize into compost for agriculture fertilizer, and biogas will be converted to electricity.
The construction of another Solid Waste Treatment Plant at Ashaiman will be a major boost to dealing with the problems and constraints in environmental sanitation in that area.
The Solid Waste Treatment Plant will be a 400 metric tons compost and recycling state of the art waste treatment infrastructure to provide a sustainable solution to the solid waste disposal problem in Ashaiman which generates 177 tons of waste daily.
It will also provide a modern way of waste disposal, by recovering and recycling the waste into reusable resources for agriculture and other sectors. It will also create jobs, improve the health and wellbeing of communities in the various districts including Tema which generates 271 tons of waste daily, Ashaiman, and Adentan Municipality where 80 tons of waste is generated daily.
During construction of the Tema Sewer Network and Waste Water Treatment Plant, some 1700 jobs will be created with 500 permanent jobs after its completion, as that would further lead to increased revenues from sewer fees since residents and businesses will show more willingness to pay.
When fully operational, revenue will be collected as connection fees, especially those who have been illegally connected and the replacement of sewer pipes will offer the opportunity to reconnect households and businesses.
Approximately, 70,000 households and businesses are connected to the sewer network, but only 14,948 are captured in the database of the Tema Metropolitan Assembly for billing purposes, so the rehabilitation will ensure the collection of more reliable data on users.
Government’s commitment to waste management
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo has in diverse ways exhibited an unwavering commitment to environmental sanitation and waste management in the country with the establishment of the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources solely dedicated to solving sanitation related issues amongst others.
Speaking at the sod-cutting ceremony in October 2020, the President re-emphasized government’s commitment to working with various private sector operators to tackle waste management in the country, with strategies intended to effect a change in attitudes towards waste generation as well as improve dramatically the methods of waste management.
He said with the increasing population of Tema, the old sewer system, now obsolete, could not cope with the volumes of waste generated as a result of the increased population of 360,828 as the Ghana Statistical Service put it.
“It is, thus, for this reason that government deemed it prudent to facilitate the construction of an integrated Recycling and Compost Plant and a Waste Water Treatment Plant to address the environmental sanitation challenges confronting the good people of Tema ” he said.
The President, who spoke to a rousing applause and resounding chants of “4more4nana”, indicated that, once completed, the plants will not only provide an opportunity for effective and efficient management of municipal solid and liquid waste in a more environmentally friendly and sustainable manner, the production of organic compost for horticultural and agronomical purposes will be an added advantage to agricultural production and the programme for Planting for Food and Jobs.
Role of Sewerage Systems Ghana Limited (SSGL) and Partners
The Sewerage System Ghana Limited (SSGL), a subsidiary the Jospong group, with its French partners – EMO and EIFFAGE – will execute the project.
SSGL, with a track record as a liquid management company, rehabilitated the Mudor wastewater treatment plant at James Town with capacity of 18,000 cubic meter per day. The plant which was non-functional for over ten years and had wastewater bypassed without treatment to the sea, is currently running and being managed by SSGL.
From scratch, SSGL also built an ultra-modern septage and faecal plant at the infamous Lavender Hill with a capacity of 2000 cubic metric per day as this stopped the many decades of dumping raw faecal matter into the sea. The project is being undertaken by SSGL in partnership with EMO and EIFFAGE.
Dr Joseph Siaw Agyepong, Founder and Executive Chairman of the Jospong Group of Companies, speaking at the ceremony said, the old system was divided into two basins; the Southern Basin covering Communities Two and Three, the Western Basin which covers Community Five, Six, Seven, Eight and Nine and the Eastern Basin which covers parts of Community Four and Seven.
He noted that in 1998, a survey was conducted to ascertain the problems associated with the sewerage system and some recommendations made, but due to financial constraints the recommendations could not be implemented.
“Our attention was drawn to this challenge in 2017 and we decided as a company and key partners to take it up as a key private sector player to strategize and find a long-lasting solution to the problem.”
In August 2018, he said discussions between Zoomlion and the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources started resulting in some innovations to solve the age-long problem in Tema, emphasizing that the political will and push of the President would see to the realization of the project.
According to him, over 95 per cent of Ghanaians will be engaged in the construction of the project and said “the first construction in 1963 was done by a UK company, Adam Hydraulics, but with the foresight of the President, this new one will be done by Ghanaians.”
Meanwhile, the Jospong Group told the pointed out that consultants had been engaged and had already commenced feasibility studies including the conduct of Environmental Impact Assessments, and said: “they will come out with preliminary design of the network and the plant. This will take six months to execute.”
It is hoped that with the pomp and pageantry that greeted the sod-cutting ceremony, physical construction work would begin in earnest to remedy the age-long problem bedeviling the residents of Tema including 57 year old Emmanuel Boakyi of Community Three, whose fervent hope is to see the project materialize; for the cost of poor sanitation and its economic and health implications on the citizenry, especially the poor, is rippling.