The Environmental Health and Sanitation Unit (EHSU) of the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly (TaMA) has announced that it is considering to re-institute its spot fines regime to sanction persons caught defecating in the open in the metropolis.
As part of the spot fines regime, the EHSU of TaMA would deploy security personnel to patrol targeted open defecation areas in the metropolis to arrest people in the act and charge them to pay the fines before being set free.
Madam Sumayatu Alhassan, Environmental Health Officer at TaMA, who announced this in an interview in Tamale, said, “We know the open defecation areas, and we know the time they go to defecate at these places. So, we will be patrolling these areas and arrest them to pay the fines to deter others from the act.”
Madam Alhassan said the Sanitation Sub-committee of TaMA would hold its usual quarterly meeting for this quarter to consider the issue and set the spot fines to be collected from those, who would be caught as part of the exercise.
She said the Unit had to resort to this strategy to stop open defecation in the metropolis because the Prisons could not contain the numbers of people engaging in open defecation in the area if they had to be prosecuted and imprisoned.
The checks revealed that EHSU of TaMA implemented the spot fine regime in 2019 and collected GHC100.00 fine from each person caught in the act.
Statistics from the EHSU of TaMA show that under an ongoing Urban Sanitation project, out of about 60,000 households in the metropolis, 16,401 have toilets, and there were other household toilets that were not captured because of inability to collect the data.
It is common to see people park cars, tricycles and motorbikes at known areas such as the Tamale High Court area, and opposite regional National Health Insurance Authority office to engage in open defecation.
Madam Alhassan said besides media campaigns, the EHSU had deployed 32 officers to the field to educate residents on the dangers of open defecation and the need to construct household latrines to stay free from water-borne diseases.
She said open defecation in the metropolis appeared to be a behavioral issue, which must be tackled from all angles hence the move to reinstitute the spot fine.
She spoke about measures instituted to support residents to construct household toilets, which included; the institution of basic sanitation fund and social fund with support from development partners such as the United Nations Children’s Fund to give soft loans to poor households to construct their latrines and pay back in installments.
She said the EHSU of TaMA was exceeding its targets under the Urban Sanitation project in terms of construction of household toilets calling on residents to support them to stop open defecation in the area.