The residents of Accra, the capital of Ghana could be said to be ?swimming? in garbage. It is common to see garbage thrown in corners and open spaces in the capital, but the city could share that dishonor with America?s oil-rich city ? Houston.
Houston one of the economically vibrant cities in Texas also has a mounting garbage problem. Some residents dump garbage in any space they could find, at the blind side of locals and city authorities. Never mind that Houston has some of the finest highways, gilded and gated communities, has vast, beautiful ranches and it is spacious and spread out; garbage is one of Houston?s problems. And this is in spite of the fact that heavy garbage pick-up is free in the city.
Accra has a population of about 1.9 million people and Houston?s population is a little over 2 million, but Houston is wealthier than Accra. Indeed, Houston?s GDP is higher than that of Ghana! The Woodlands?Sugar Land MSA of Houston?s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012 was $449 billion, while in 2008, the World Bank estimated that Accra?s economy only constituted around $3 billion of Ghana?s total gross GDP.
A report in the ?Ultimate Houston? an edition of the ?Houston Chronicle? newspaper of Sunday December 22, 2013 says ??at odds with the self-conscious image of gleaming energy headquarters, advanced medicine, hip food and live theater, but Houston is infested with pop-up heaps of debris: plywood, tires, diapers. They smell and swell and multiply from individual acts of carelessness into blight across the city, and in some places rise to the level of plague.?
Animal carcasses too litter the city?s main and feeder roads and its streams are filled with garbage.
But while Houston?s local authority would act and punish any offender caught, dumping garbage anywhere in Accra appears to have become a way of life. Houston has a phone line to call and complain about garbage thrown in the wrong places and the city keeps a record of calls that residents make, according to the newspaper report.
?There have been nearly 25,000 phone calls to the city?s 311 line complaining of garbage dumped on the street, on dead ends, in vacant lots, along fences and drainage swales in Houston from 2008 through early this month?, the newspaper recounts.
The police are doing something though, but it?s not stopping people. The report notes that police dig through the garbage looking for receipts to track their owners.
The Houston Police Department?s Environmental Investigations Unit, according to the report spends ? three-quarters of its time on illegal dumping, the paper cited an official saying.
Accra and Houston are poles apart in culture, economy and even size, but they both are suffering a common plague of garbage at the wrong places.