The Environmental Service Providers Association (ESPA), has called for an urgent review of its waste collection and management fees with Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies (MMDAs) as fuel costs rise to unprecedented levels in recent times.
The Executive Secretary to the ESPA, Madam Ama Ofori Antwi described the situation as dire and one requiring some urgency of the various district assemblies to address.
According to her, members of the association are not only contending with a regular increase in fuel prices but also vehicular spare parts, which prices have seen astronomical increment due to the depreciation of the Ghanaian cedi against major foreign currencies particularly, the US dollar.
“An upward review of sanitation fees is urgently needed if we are to maintain the gains made in our environmental sanitation over the years.
It is a no-brainer to state that the sanitation situation in most parts of the country is likely to deteriorate if urgent steps are not taken by the government to cushion environmental service providers who are battling rising fuel and vehicular spare parts to stay in business.
She stated that the district assemblies have since 2016 been reviewing the rates. “However, the escalation of prices on all operational items now calls for a renegotiation of the rates to address the rising cost of operations”.
The prevailing fees range from on an average GHC110 for first-class areas, GHC70 for second-class areas, GHC30 for third-class areas, and as low as GHC10 for slum areas.
However, the realistic fee calculated in 2021 for residential areas were Ghc149.06 for first class, 94.85 for second class, and GHC30 for the residential category. That of the commercial and industrial ranges from GHC223.59 to GHC6,605.95.
According to the ESPA, its calculation for this year demands that they charge GHC165, GHC105, and GHC45 for first class, second class, and third class respectively. For commercial and industrial, the range is GHC245 to 7,265.
Currently, changes in operational costs do not warrant a corresponding increase in collection rates or processing fees, explaining that fees are enacted by the district assemblies in their by-laws, which now more than ever require an amendment to keep it abreast with the prevailing economic situation.
According to her, the service fees approved by the MMDAs for second, third, and slum classes under the Franchise system or Polluter Pays Principle are very low due to the consideration that people living in prop poor communities are unable to pay realistic fees.
Additionally, some beneficiaries in first-class areas also fail to promptly pay for services rendered to them worsening the already precarious financial challenges of service providers.
“Because environmental service providers use specialized equipment in their operations, it is critical that we recover cost”.
It is also important to note that the last time a major review was made regarding waste collection fees was in 2014, Madam Ofori Antwi further stated.
The current system
Madam Ofori Antwi, in sharing some historical analyses of the situation said, the financing of waste collection and management used to be the sole responsibility of the government through the MMDAs. However, due to the government’s continued indebtedness to service providers, the burden of financing solid waste collection under the contract system was shifted from the MMDAs to the private sector under the current franchise system, in which the service providers collect service fees imposed by the MMDAs directly from beneficiaries of the service.
Clean city agenda
The ESPA Executive Secretary reiterated the support of members to the President’s Cleanest City Agenda, which she said must be brought to the front burner again through appropriate policies and governmental support to the sector.
She expressed an appreciation to the government for its current role in the country’s environmental sanitation drive but added that the government’s commitment would be resounding if it ensures that service providers receive realistic fees for the services, they render to at least help them break even.
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