The University of Ghana is one of the finest higher educational institutions of excellence in Africa. The university’s environment undoubtedly constitute one of the most beautiful communities in Ghana: excellent infrastructure, spatially classic navigation, greenery and serene breezes, and envious sanitary views, are, but only a few attributes of the wonderful environment of the Premier University which many of us boast of, and continue to attract many excellent candidates all over the world. The significance of this decent environment and how it positively influences the attitudes and lifestyles of members of the university community is amazing. As opined by one product of the Premier University: “it is always difficult to litter around indiscriminately after you spend a full semester on campus and you are back in town, though, that seems to be the normal practice”. Yes! That is positive and this is how it should be.
The university has a responsibility to positively influence our orientations; how we see things and approach them. It is in this spirit, that I want to bring to the notice of my cherished University of Ghana that filth is speedily arresting her beautiful community; dumpsites are gradually becoming the cornerstones on which the Golden City is pillared on. This is a serious matter of concern, especially for the purposes of environmental welfare and the image of the university.
During my last observational visit across the boundaries of our cherished university to confirm my interest in this matter, the observed conditions were indeed sorrowful. At the western territory, where the university shares a boundary with Papao local community, I observed a huge public dumpsite heaping-up on the university’s land. What makes the situation more worrisome is the fact that the dumpsite is situated along the main walking path, used on daily basis by many workers and students from the Papao community to, and from the university. Many residents, including the Assemblyman of Papao whom I interacted with, expressed concerns and worries about the development. There was a common notion among the residents, pointing to the fact that ‘because the land belongs to the University of Ghana, it has become difficult for any individual to stand against this wrongful development’ though they believe it may lead to an outbreak of contagious diseases.
The situation was no different at the northern and eastern borders of the university. At the northern lane; from Emefa Jewelries, through TF hostels to Atomic Junction, more than eighteen (18) mini-dumpsites were observed. Similarly, passengers and pedestrians who use the Madina-Accra road keep complaining about an unpleasant odour which has come to stay at a point between the university’s main entrance and Okponglo junction in the eastern territory of the university. These and many other petty environmentally damaging scenes found around the ‘nation’s hope and glorious’ university, are considered to have strong tendency to form a ruinous image about our prideful university.
One may be tempted to say that these unfortunate developments are happening outside the university’s main premise and that the institution has managed to keep its campus so well that it can be considered among the most environmentally decent communities in the Ghanaian society. While the premise of this argument is true, it is not enough justification to pardon the university over negative environmental developments happening around the institution, especially when these developments are befalling on the university’s owned lands. It is important to acknowledge that the exterior part of the university is the first point of contact, hence informs people’s judgment about the university; as the saying goes “first impression counts”. It is, therefore important for the university to respond to these unfortunate developments to avert any possible image crisis they may pose.
With strong concerns, we appeal to the authorities of the university to find a swift approach which goes beyond staging ‘No Refuse Dump Here’ sign-posts, or stationing of university guards as a way to address these problems. In line with this, the university as a beacon of technology and innovation can liaise with these communities to develop waste management system in order to turn these wastes into usable commodities. An attempt of this kind or any other appropriate measure will bring greater benefit to the university and the surrounding communities. We believe that the university has an equal responsibility to positively influence its external communities as it has done to members of the university community. Hence, if society is found to approach the university with its problems, it is more appropriate that the university devises solutions to permanently solve them rather than to drive away these problems.
I hereby look forward to seeing the University of Ghana support her surrounding communities to solve their environmental and sanitation problems. In this regards, we shall all be proud to say that the ‘’World Class University ’’ is indeed here for all.
By: Ronny Agyei Yeboah – Executive Director, (Centre for Environmental Research and Policy Analysis, Ghana).