President John Dramani Mahama cut the sod on Wednesday for work to begin on a project that is expected to provide lasting solutions to Accra's perennial flooding and waste management challenges.
The five-year, US$663,299,496 Accra Sanitary Sewer and Storm water Drainage Alleviation Project falls under two main components.
The first is to upgrade the sewer and drainage infrastructure within the Odaw Basin, which will include covering, de-silting, dredging, the construction of new siltation ponds and the removal of refuse from and complete reconstruction of priority drains as well as the restoration of the Korle Lagoon and further works to be determined during the feasibility and design stage.
The second component is sanitation, which will make the existing Accra Central Waste Water Treatment Plant operational and the implementation of an overall solid waste collection programme.
Specifically, the project will include the construction of a new solid waste recyclable-sorting facility to sort through 450 tonnes of waste a day, in addition to helping the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) develop a comprehensive, modern, innovative and cost-effective solution to the overall waste management challenge.
Also, 570 metres of new covered drains will be constructed at Mataheko, 2.6 km at Mamponse and 920m at South Kaneshie. Other aspects of the project include the revitalisation and dredging of 500,000 cubic metres of the Korle Lagoon and the construction of 20 hectares of permanent sedimentation basins upstream along the Odaw Channel from the Aburi Hills.
The project, which is being executed by American construction firm Conti Ghana with support from Zoomlion and WaterTech, is being funded under a credit facility from the Export Import (Exim) Bank of the USA and the Standard Chartered Bank.
Speaking at the function, President Mahama said the project would revolutionise the sanitation and sewage situation in Accra and end the perennial flooding of the city.
He said if the project was successful, it would be replicated in the other regions of the country.
President Mahama urged the public to desist from dumping refuse into open drains and building in watercourses, since those practices result in urban flooding.
AMA Chief Executive Dr. Alfred Oko Vanderpuije gave an assurance that the assembly would enforce its bye-laws to ensure that the project achieved its objectives.
The problems of flooding and sanitation in Accra are further compounded by the large population of the city, which is approximately 2.3 million, and has been growing at a high annual rate of four per cent since 1984.
In that regard, the Charge d'Affaires of the US Embassy, Ms. Patricia Alsup, said the US was proud to have played a role in dealing with the perennial flooding and waste management problems confronting the city.
Accra, which is sited on low-lying ground, experiences flooding annually mainly because of the haphazard construction of houses, especially in water courses, and poor drainage and waste management systems that leave drains choked with garbage.
Efforts by the city authorities to check the situation continue to be undermined by recalcitrant residents and the weak enforcement of bye-laws.
In 2009 and 2011, the floods that swept through Accra resulted in several deaths and the destruction of property valued at millions of Ghana cedis.
Conti Group CEO Kurt Conti pledged the company's commitment to ensure that the project is completed on schedule.
The Korle Lagoon Restoration Project, which started some years back, has been plagued by uncontrolled waste dumping in a city that generates about 2,500 tonnes of waste daily and struggles to properly dispose of it.