The Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) says effective January 1, this year, the use of pan latrines in the metropolis has been outlawed. Consequently, the assembly has warned that it will begin prosecuting offenders, since it has given enough public education for residents to convert their facilities to approved ones.
The move is part of attempts to comply with a Supreme Court order, which directed the assembly to completely phase out the use of the pan latrines in the metropolis by 2010. In has been two years since the Supreme Court ordered the assembly to stop the use of the facility across the national capital due to its environmental and health implications. But the AMA admits that the January 1, 2010 deadline as many as 5,294 households were still using this type of facility.
A coalition of some human rights organizations took the issue to the court, arguing that the carrying of human excreta in containers by human beings was a violation of their human rights, based on which the Supreme Court ruled that the assembly should phase out the facility, beginning this year.
Statistics made available by the Metropolitan Public Health Department of the AMA indicated that 5,002 residences, three industrial and 243 hospitality joints, as well as 46 schools in various parts of the city, were still using the pan latrines as of last year.
It further revealed that 70 per cent of residents in the metropolis did not have access to their own places of convenience and, therefore, relied on public ones, including the pan latrine facilities to attend to the call of nature, a situation which made a complete phase-out of the facility by the deadline, unattainable.
Those who are unable to endure the long queues find their way to the beaches and bushes to engage in “free range”, a practice which is common along the coast and also comes with dire environmental implications.
According to the Director of Metro Public Health, Dr Simpson Anim Boateng, pan latrines were being used all across the city though very common at areas such as Nima, Avenor, La, Nii Boi Town and Lapaz.
“Insignificant numbers of the facility can also be found in all the 11 sub-metros of the AMA,” he said.
In the Ablekuma North sub-metro alone, a total of 50 households were still using the facility, he said.
The use of the facility, according to Dr Anim Boateng, was against the AMA bye law and gave an assurance that the AMA would begin prosecuting offenders, since it had given enough public education for residents to convert their facilities to approved ones.
Aside the Supreme Court order, the Head of Environmental Protection and Standard Enforcement, Mr Daniel Kofi Opare, also explained that under the Ghana Environmental Sanitation Policy, all pan latrines nationwide are expected to be phased-out this year. Under the Urban Environmental Service Project (UESP), there are interventions for households who wish to convert their pan latrines to approved facilities.