Residents of Akweteyman in the Okaikoi North Municipality of the Greater Accra Region say their lives are at risk because of the constant emission of industrial waste into the atmosphere by a candy producing company, Royal Sweets Limited in the area.
The residents say if the factory which emits plumes of smoke which clouds the environment and forces them to inhale must be relocated before an outbreak of an epidemic.
“We cannot wait till there is an epidemic breaking out in this neighbourhood… we are taking action now,” an angry resident said .
They have vowed to use every means available to force the relocation or closure of the company.
For them, not only have the city authorities including the Accra Metropolitan Assembly and the Environmental Protection Agency failed them but also the Okaikoi North Municipal Assembly.
According to them, they have been petitioning these agencies since 20o9 but that petitions have not yielded any positive action.
One of them, Barima said, he has suffered enough, and as such, he plans to sell off his house and relocate.
“They operate day and night, especially around the festive season. When you sleep at night, you feel a sudden change in the breeze. Smoke fills the room directly. Myself, my wife and child have suffered heart problems. I am just recovering. So I have decided to sell my house and relocate. We are simply inhaling death,” he lamented.
It is believed that when the candy production company, Royal Sweets set up its factory, at Akweteyman two decades ago, it was not the bustling residential and commercial area that it has become.
Neither was the production load of the company as huge as it is today.
But with Ghana’s population growing at an annual population growth rate of 2.5%, tensions are rising in what used to be safe areas for factories between companies and residents.Eric Akwetey’s great-grandparents were the early settlers at Akweteyman. The restaurant he has been operating for years is almost on its knees since his customers cannot stand the fumes from Royal Sweets which looms over his pub.
Eric has been leading the residents to get authorities to intervene since 2009.
He says he and his fellow residents are frustrated and may be compelled to act to protect their businesses and health.“It has affected me gravely to the extent that the place is empty. This morning not even one person has come for breakfast because the emissions this morning were enormous and when it happens that way, customers cannot sit down and enjoy themselves,” Eric complained.
Officials of Okaikoi North Municipal Assembly were unavailable for an interview as at press time.
The Managers of Royal Sweets refused to speak about the complaints of residents.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that air pollution-related deaths are expected to rise in Ghana as the urban population and vehicular numbers increase.
Statistics from the WHO reveals that air pollution kills 28,000 people in Ghana annually.
The British High Commissioner to Ghana, Iain Walker, had cause to complain about the air quality in Accra.
He described it as disgusting and disgraceful the way and manner some unknown persons have been indiscriminately burning car tyres polluting the air around his home.
Residents of East La in the La Dadekotopon Municipality threatened legal action against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the La Dadekotopon Municipal Assembly (LADMA) because of the operations of the plastic manufacturing company, EDISAW Company Limited.
Residents complained that the operations of EDISAW posed a serious health risk to them.
The EPA had cause to shut down the company because of the pollution, but the company resumed operations.
Residents of Kuntunse in Accra also threatened to head to court in a bid to stop the illegal operations of a tomato factory in the area.
The EPA held a meeting between management of the factory where the company was directed to move its operations to an industrial area
Another company, Shinefeel Ghana Company Limited at Asutsuare, was compelled to halt its plastic processing unit after complaints from the public.
An EPA team concluded that the plastic unit of the plant was not observing the agency’s standards.
This was after the Osudoku SHS closed down due to the emissions from the factory, now confirmed as harmful.