Good health they say is great wealth but no matter how much the people of Lamankara clean, they run the risk of running into one sickness or the other. This is because of the nature of their public toilet facility which shares a space with their rubbish container marrying their to even on a good day make a catarrh patient puke.

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The structure was put up in 1986 and according to those who live there; it has since seen no refurbishment since its construction.The facility is fenced with caretakers who take 20 pesewas from visitors. The slabs covering the manholes containing the human excreta are all broken and the facility itself is not standing straight because its foundation at the back is caving in and the rubbish can is always full so they throw the rubbish just close to the facility. The air blows some of the rubbish into the ever opened manhole and makes the facility full always. When the car from the Metro Assembly comes to empty the hole, it cannot drain it entirely because the car can only drain liquid and what is in there is filth of cans, polythene etc.

The flies that hover too cannot be described. There are children who search through the heap of rubbish for things, those who squat on the rubbish to ease themselves and those who play on the heap for fun.The caretaker spoke of the repulsive responsibility of manually using shovel to reduce the excreta from the open manhole to no avail. He also added that when it rains, it floods the place and one cannot imagine the stench which adds to the existing.Sadat Anwar who lives in the area says hardly can one afford to breath in the afternoons especially and the evenings and early mornings when the breeze travels around.
A woman who visited the facility stated her fear of the facility caving in with humans in it. She also said she feared the sicknesses it generates because most people in the area have constant headaches and fears the many flies that hover around.

Abubari Fuseini, the assemblyman for the area whom I spoke to on phone, said he has presented the issue to the assembly and that everybody in the assembly is aware. He says the metropolitan engineer came with him to look at the project in question some three years ago and promised to tear it down to make way for a new one but nothing has been done. He also added that everybody complains and puts the blame on him. Mr. Fuseini also said that although he has been doing everything he can to get the attention of the assembly, nothing seems forthcoming and he is having sleepless nights on the matter. He also added that he is seriously appealing to people to help save the situation.Issah Musah, the PRO of Tamale Metropolitan Assembly, when confronted on the matter said he was not aware that a toilet like this exists and that sometime ago, there was an audit on such places of convenience. He mentioned that the assembly has begun the construction of 21 places of convenience which were supposed to be constructed in 2009 but it is now that the funds are available.

He spoke at length about the possibility of assemblymen exploiting such situations in order to get the sympathy of the people for re-election. Mr. Issah also said those who go around ensuring that houses are built well and at proper places in the metropolis are only two for the whole metropolis. Then he spoke to someone whom he said is the overseer of such projects in the assembly. He then said the feedback he had was that, those toilets are going to be pulled down but that it needs time; there is the suctioning, disinfecting and then some time for decomposition before the whole thing is pulled down. He mentioned also that they are going to help people build toilets in their homes and they plan funding 70% (which is refundable) of those.

As to whether there is some sort of supervision, Mr. Issah said the places of convenience must be supervised by those who manage them and that, although they have a percentage in the monies collected, the managers who are selected through a very transparent process have the duty of supervision.
I know when people are using evasive language and I know when someone wants to take people on a guilt trip but I do know that all he did was do his job as the PRO, meaning to make such issues go away without incurring the wrath of those involved.

My questions are: Do we always need to sit and watch for people to die before we do something about constructions in dilapidated states?
Do we not care at all about the health of people in some communities?
Must everything be politicized?
Who must fight for these things? I know I work under the Tamale Metro and my appointment can be terminated any time, I will forever speak against the ills of the society. I will definitely not sit in wait for someone to die and watch those in authority rush to work as though they never saw or knew about it.

I know the toilet project he mentioned will fail because people here are not ready to pay 30% and owe 70% for the construction of toilet facilities in their homes so they will need another public toilet. Mr. Issah mentioned they are willing to give some space out to people who want to operate a standardized public toilet for the area or any other area. Who can help the people of Lamankara with immediate effect? He also mentioned another place of convenience in a deplorable state in Builpila (I hope I got the spelling right). Why these traits of poverty in the Tamale Metropolis? Are we always to settle for less?

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Amoafowaa Sefa Cecilia

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