Dr. Akwasi Osei, Chief Executive Officer of the Mental Health Authority, grabbed his nostril as he attempted going round an ongoing building on a land said to have been taken over by private developers. He used the other left hand to wipe sweat dripping down his cheeks due to the baking sun. Other staff members and journalists in tow did the same thing, covering their mouths and noses with handkerchief. A nursing officer, pregnant and in white outfit, found the stench unbearable and had to turn back to the office.
The tour became necessary following a decision by the court to allow private developers who have encroached of several acres of lands belonging to the Pantang hospital to go ahead with their projects, something the staff say they wont allow to happen, and are ready to hit the streets if need be.
On Monday morning they turned away a good number of patients as part of the planned protestation.
But beyond the encroached lands, some of the nurses expressed strong reservation at the dumpsite which, according to them, poses a risk for them.
“Especially when it rains, my brother, you cannot even breathe, and this is a hospital,” he said with disgust.
The landfill site shares boarders with the hospital and the stench is absolutely unbearable.
The site which is believed to have started in the early 1990s receives tonnes of waste products collected from across Accra and environs. And from a rather shallow field has risen to become a mountain of solid waste and a feeding grounds for vultures and other birds, who loudly feast on different wasted dumped at the site.
Sadly the refuse is stretching right onto the edge of the main road and if care is not taken, it will take over that stretch. Thick smoke from the burning of solid materials billows into the skies and spreads across the town, causing severe health related problems to the staff and residents nearby.
Pointing to me a facility which is home to nursing trainees, a nurse, who declined to give her name, said anytime the stench became unbearable, the authorities abandon classes and ask the students to go home.
“This is obviously madness and no civilized society will allow this mess to sit right here on the soil of the hospital, never,” said with sadness.
These hospital staff and trainee nurses have to bear the sickening stench from the landfill on a daily basis, when the stench becomes unbearable, classes are abandoned.
Ironically an eatery or chop-bar is stationed right under a tree less than 100 metres from the site. Hungry workers from a construction site were busy tacking their hands into bowls of fufu and soup and could not be bothered about the stench.
“There is little we can do about the stench but life has to go on,” one construction worker said to us.
A plush apartment about 300 meters from the site is near completion and the pricing could somewhat be determined by the impact of the dump site, which does not look like will be cleared anytime soon.