PRESIDENT JOHN Mahama has warned that Ghana may be forced to follow the example of Rwanda and completely ban the use of plastics if the polluting effects of the non-biodegradable substance is not contained.
He tasked producers to take active steps to reduce its negative impact on the environment.
Speaking at the 16th edition of the annual Republic Day Health Walk held Saturday, the concerned President made the observation that the use of plastics is getting out of control.
“Plastics have become such a pollutant in our environment that if the producers don’t do something about it then we might have to go the Rwanda way….If we can’t handle and manage plastic waste then we must ban it,” he said.
Plastic waste ranging from wrappers, bags to bottles are a sore site in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, and indeed, the whole country. Drinking water comes in sachets that cost 20 pesewas. Cheap and convenient, they are sold in shops and by street hawkers. But once they have been drunk they are often simply dropped on the ground.
But in a drastic move in Rwanda, the non-biodegradable polythene bags were declared illegal in 2008 while the rest of the world was barely starting to consider a tax on single-use plastic bags.
The small East African nation decided to ban them completely and has earned worldwide acclaim for the bold pro-environment move.
At Kigali International Airport, a sign warns visitors that plastic bags will be confiscated. Agents from the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) cut the plastic wrapping off negligent travellers’ suitcases. Throughout the country, businesses have been forced to replace plastic carrier bags with paper ones.
The President also challenged municipal and district assemblies to enforce the country’s by-laws on sanitation. He expressed dissatisfaction that some residents in various communities do not participate in the monthly National Sanitation Day exercise.
President John Mahama also used the opportunity to advocate lifestyle changes among Ghanaians, observing that too many young people are dying under very preventable circumstances.
“Nowadays you look at the obituaries and you see ‘Gone too soon’ ‘Oh what shock’ and all that because people are dying younger than they should die,” Mahama said.
The President participated in a 15-kilometre from the El-Wak Sports Stadium to Nima and back to stress the importance of living a healthy lifestyle.
He wants Ghanaians to shun junk food and eat properly.