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I have had the privilege of speaking to some compatriots living outside the shores of Ghana and I got a bit amazed at what they narrated to me. They travelled to meet cities that have already been established. Cities that have occupants who obey the structures so established many years ago.

I have come to understand that in their respective jurisdictions, people are paid to maintain sanitation on their streets. They are to ensure the streets are cleaned at all times. These officers are employees of the state who are paid by the taxpayers money at the end of every month.

However, even though these individuals have their sole responsibilities of policing the wastes on the streets, no citizen has the luxury of consciously or unconsciously dropping waste on the streets or in the gutters with the excuse that they pay taxes. Even the droppings of a pet must be picked by its owner on the spot. They risk being tried before the courts and a fine slapped on them.

In Ghana, we appear the only people who pay taxes in this world. For that unfortunate reasoning, we throw waste into the gutters. We defecate in the streets. We throw anything wasteful about. We think because people are employed to clear waste and to clear the streets, we must always provide work for them to justify the taxes we contribute to paying their salaries. What a people we have become.

When we are asked to join in cleaning exercises around our vicinity, we say we are not employees of Zoomlion and that it is their duty to clean the gutters because they are paid with our taxes. When you fall sick, is it the Zoomlion employee who pays your bills?

Employees of Zoomlion are equally human beings like you and I. Just as you would not love to put your cherished fingers into fecal mater to collect, the Zoomlion employees are human beings with same fingers they should equally cherish.

For our attitudes, we shall continue to pump huge sums of monies into waste collection. Whether our streets remain clean or not is our own decision. No matter the number of people on the streets collecting our wastes, it would never get better if our attitudes remains the same. We see trash cans around but we prefer dropping waste near the bins instead of dropping into the bins.

If we can become a bit disciplined, waste management companies can be paid on the volume of waste disposed by the close of every month. That would mean no work, no pay to any waste management  company. That would save us a lot of money. Waste management companies, based on the fact that out streets are clean, would have very little to clear. Perhaps, the minimal waste they clear would be paid for and that would serve all of us better as the remaining resources would be channeled into the development of other sectors.

The employees engaged in waste collection are just like you and I. They are human beings who get tired doing the same thing over and over again. They get tired collecting waste here today and coming back tomorrow to find same.

Living in the city is not the same as living in the village. In the village, you can gather waste and walk into the bush to dispose it free of charge. I also did those duties. In the cities however, you must be ready to dispose waste at a cost. You cannot have it free of charge. What amazes me is that, most of the people who throw wastes about in the cities have had some rural training. They know very well that they could not dispose waste haphazardly in their villages. They know very well that they must carry whatever waste they generate to the refuse dump mostly in the mornings. Yet, they completely disregard those hygienic alerts they adhered to in the villages and adopt what puts everyone in danger in the cities. As stated, city life cannot be compared to that in the rural areas. What one would get free in the village would not be free in the cities.

Let us stop behaving as if we are the only people who pay taxes in this world. Our taxes must go towards the creation of amenities that would ameliorate our sufferings in the cities. Our taxes must go towards the construction of roads, the building of schools, hospitals, provision of water and electricity. Let us commit ourselves to change attitudes on what is changeable while government tackles what it must do ? that which is capital intensive.

If we will be truthful, or better still seek for information from our brothers and sisters living abroad, they lose over 70% of their monthly income to the payment of taxes and bills just to ensure that the systems put in place are working to their benefit.

Here in Ghana, we shamelessly dodge taxes, we bypass metres and so we pay no water or electricity bills and yet, we are the loudest when the facilities fail, or have a temporary problem, or has seen a hike because of volumes of consumption which the revenues realised cannot cater to provide. We are always looking for ways through which we can bypass the payment of port charges. We look for ways we can connive with customs officers to escape import charges. And yet, we expect to benefit from everything we ever desire for from government.

Because we think we have elected a president, we think we have no rights to point the wrongs of others to them in our own ways. Because we have the rights, we think we must exercise them.

Because we have Assembly men in our communities, we think we can choke our gutters. We think we can leave our streets unclean. We think we have lost our responsibilities. We think the Assemblymen are the ones to point our own wrongs to us. We think is their duties to rally us to do what must be done for our communities. We have gradually lost our senses of responsibilities.

The latest from some living outside the country are the claims that no government where they are, engages the citizens in what we do here in Ghana. That they are not engaged in cleaning their environments but rather people are paid to do so, that no president goes inaugurating schools and hospitals. That may be the case. But what we are failing to understand is that, no country got where it is today without conscious efforts to build it to become this beautiful. Let us be realistic in our measurement. Where schools exists, I don?t see any reason for a president going to build one that would require him inaugurating. Where hospitals exists, the focus of the president would shift to other relevant issues to the people. With the level of infrastructural deficit we have in this country coupled with ever increasing population, the attention of government would remain on establishing the fundamentals.

If we want to remain the most intelligent in the world, we must prepare to suffer the most.

Source: Stephen Kwabena Attuh-ASK!

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