The increasing demand for ferrous scrap metals has turned the banks of the Odaw River on the Graphic Road into the hub of scrap metal activities in Accra.

Scores of people buying and selling anything ? from the residue of burnt electronic gadgets to scrap metals ? converge daily on the site to transact business.

From just a few truck pushers who offloaded their daily collection of scrap on the banks of the polluted river in the past, the situation has dramatically changed in recent times, with heaps of metals now lining the banks of the river, while scores of articulated trucks wait to cart them away for export.

When the Daily Graphic visited the place last week, a number of scrap dealers, many of them children, who did not wear protective clothing were seen dismantling computers and television sets in search of metals that could be sold.

The remaining plastic, cables and casings were either burnt or simply dumped into the Odaw River, which is already filled with tonnes of plastic waste.

The ever-growing demand for the latest fashionable electronic gadgets such as flat-screen TV sets or super-fast computers has seen heaps of obsolete electronic gadgets that are often laden with toxic chemicals such as mercury being dumped along the Odaw River and beyond.

Containers filled with old and often broken computers, monitors and television sets are on a regular basis shipped into the country and other developing countries from Germany, South Korea, Switzerland and The Netherlands under the label of “second-hand goods”.

An estimated 50 million tonnes of e-waste is produced each year, while the United States, according to reports, is said to discard some 30 million computers annually.

According to a report by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) titled, “Recycling: From e-waste to resources,” the amount of e-waste being produced, including mobile phones and computers, could rise by as much as 500 per cent over the next decade in countries such as India.

Although the export of e-waste from Europe is illegal, regulations that allow the exportation of old electronics for ‘reuse’ has profited unscrupulous traders who discard the old electronics on the Ghanaian market.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that only 15-20 per cent of e-waste is recycled, while the rest of such electronic gadgets go directly to landfill sites and incinerators.

Along the Graphic Road and around the Agbogbloshie area in Accra, thick smoke often pollute the air, much to the annoyance of commuters plying the stretch.

The activities of scrap dealers have not only become a threat to environmental sustainability but also contributed to traffic nuisance in parts of the metropolis where the activities are dominant.

The proximity of the scrap dealing hub to Accra central has not stopped the haphazard burning of toxic materials.

Regardless of the health risk posed by the burning of the toxic materials within the enclave, city authorities seem to have adopted a lax attitude towards the challenges the operations pose to the generality of people.

Although it is the duty of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) to rid the city of unauthorised structures and filth, little attention has been paid to the area, which hosts some multinational companies in the capital city.

In an interview with the Daily Graphic, the Public Relations Officer of the AMA, Numo Blafo III, said the management of the AMA was yet to take any decision on the operations of the metal scrap dealers along the Odaw River.

The Public Relations Officer of the EPA, Mrs Angelina Mensah, told the Daily Graphic to write a formal letter to the EPA before the agency could give any response concerning the operations of the scrap dealers.

From: Ghana | Daily Graphic

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