Do you like to travel around town in your car, or perhaps in a taxi, tro tro, or bus and sit by the window and look out with the window down, and the wind blowing in your face? Or maybe you like to take a short walk during your lunch break while at work to clear your mind of your busy activities going on in the office.
Well…. I’d WAIT to do any of this and perhaps go out and check the air, see how it smells and looks today, because that air may not be too healthy for you. This morning, like every other morning of the past three weeks during my visit to Accra, I took my daily tro tro journey downtown to my internship. The ride did not seem too different, however, I was soon to find out it was quite different. As I sat in my seat of the tro tro, passing the Circle, I caught out of the corner of my eye a glimpse of, what turned out to be a dark, hazy cloud, hovering very low and close to the thruway outside the window of my bus.
This cloud grabbed my attention because I had never seen a cloud like this before. It was not just a regular cloud, but in fact a giant cloud of pollution that had formed from all the pollutants in the air coming from the factories, and quite evidently from the motor vehicles traveling throughout the city.
Arriving only just a few weeks ago to Accra, I have had the reoccurring circumstance of seeing and smelling these dark, hazy fumes while travelling all across the city every day, but I had never fully noticed the impact of them until seeing this very large, very dark, very hazy cloud.
As I looked more intensely out the window of my bus at this cloud, I realized that since boarding the bus that morning, there had been an older woman sitting fairly close to the open window who had a horrible, unceasing cough. After sitting, thinking for a few moments about what the cloud and the woman’s cough could be from, I was then able to easily tell that it had been from that cloud, and more presumably many other clouds like this one throughout the woman’s life, and the fumes that were coming from it and sitting over the city due to the country’s general lack of enforced emissions standards, and a lack of concern for the polluting of the environment throughout the Accra area, and across Ghana. I noticed as I glanced around at our neighbouring vehicles that the vast majority of vehicles in the general area had had noticeably thick, endless, dark fumes flowing out of their back ends forming their own small versions of the larger cloud ahead.
Over the past few weeks, as I’ve travelled in and out of the city traffic, I too, like the woman on the bus, have had some type of sickness come about, almost entirely been brought about while driving with the vehicles windows rolled down. The hazy, foul smelling fumes enter in with the flowing air in and out of the vehicle, hitting our faces in the form of enduring headaches, congested nasal system, heavy coughs, irritated eyes, or exhaustion.
The polluted air here in Ghana both disturbs and surprises me. Knowing that at a time when a large number of countries are being greatly affected by the adverse environmental changes being brought about by the rise in gas emissions around the world and trying to improve, an outsider would think that Ghana, being a nation in the middle of the climate change disaster, would be working to find immediate ways to limit effects of climate change on its nation.
Despite the setbacks that Ghana has faced, it can draw on the benefits of being a young, growing nation. It has the ability to look upon the mistakes and blunders of other nations that have already industrialized, and build upon them as ways to develop their own transit systems.
Travelling through Ghana, a visitor can tell that there is an obvious effort by the government to build an efficient transit system. This system consists of taxis, tro tros, and buses (which were first introduced in 2003 under Pres. Kufuor’s administration as an alternative to tro tros), which serve the country’s cities.
Just the development of tro tros alone in my opinion, has been one of the best ideas of mass transportation in modern times. The trips in them are generally comfortable and not too packed feeling. They are fairly cheaper than taxis or cars, and usually cost around half a cedi for a one-way trip.
Having said all this, one can tell that the Ghanaian government has taken a stance, but it must take a more drastic step of helping the transit system grow. It should take the steps of funding and developing cleaner, more reliant tro tros, buses, and taxis that are environmentally friendly and beneficial for the development of Ghana and its people.
A country that has as obvious of a pollution problem that Ghana does cannot just sit around and wait to fix this problem.
Ghana must act!
Source: Justin Borom
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