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Formalizing the Informal Waste Sector: GEMA inaugurates the Borla Taxi and Tricycle Association (BTTA)

29 April 2021

The IESS in collaboration with the Ga East Municipal Assembly (GEMA) and the Green Africa Youth Organisation (GAYO) has held an event dubbed ‘LIRA CSOs Engagement Event to inaugurate the GEMA Borla Taxi and Tricycle Association (BTTA). The event which was held at the Presbyterian Women Centre at Abokobi (April 29), organised by the GAYO under the theme ‘Formalising the informal waste collectors’ the event forms part of the ‘Cleaning up from the bottom project’ led by the Institute for Environment and Sanitation Studies (IESS) of the University of Ghana. The informal waste collectors form an essential part of the waste management system in Ghana, however, their activities are not regulated as they have no formal recognition within the various jurisdictions within which they work. The registration of the informal sector workers within the Ga East Municipal Assembly (GEMA) is seen as a step in the right direction towards giving the needed recognition and support that would enable these waste collectors to collaborate with authorities in finding solutions to their challenges for the effective delivery of their services especially in the hard to reach parts of the urban centres.

In welcoming the participants to the Assembly, Mr. Charles Asabre of GEMA indicated that parts of the Assembly’s mandate is to ensure the cleanliness of the municipality in order to maintain health. He expressed his happiness at the partnership between the IESS and GAYO in exploring ways of formalizing the informal sector waste collectors to promote their work. The Municipal Chief Executive, through her representative indicated that over 150 informal waste collectors have been registered and formalised to enable the regulation of their activities. She called on all the workers to ensure the registration of all people operation as this gives them the legal backing to operate smoothly in the Assembly. 

On her part, the Principal Investigator (PI) of the Cleaning up from the bottom project’, Dr. Dzidzo Yirenya-Tawiah, who is a Senior Lecturer at IESS reiterated the role of everyone in waste management. She was pleased about the support of the Assembly and reiterated the crucial need for CSOs to support these informal sector workers while noting her firm belief that the inauguration of the informal waste workers in the Assembly would mark the beginning of a beautiful working relationship between the waste collectors and the Assembly for a common purpose of cleaning up from the bottom.

Dr. Ted Annang who represented the Director of the IESS at the Programme indicates that as an Institute, a key role is to train human resources and research into environmental issues hence the Institute is always happy and open to collaborations of this nature towards environmental protection. He indicated that the need to formalize the informal sector even though late in his opinion, at the right time as the sector is very essential, particularly for the newly developing peri-urban areas that have poor access and lacked waste collection services.

A Documentary on Informal waste pickers dubbed “Daily hustle” was shown to participants to illustrate the challenges of the waste pickers. Following this, Registration (Cooperatives) documents were handed to the newly nominated executives of the BTTA, about 40 informal waste pickers present were provided with personal protective equipment (PPEs) such as hand gloves, nose masks and GEMA BTTA branded reflective vests to aid their work.

The National President of the Association, Madam Lydia Bamfo who accompanied the new executives in receiving the items and the registration documents expressed her gratitude to the IESS, GEMA and GAYO. She was very excited about the recognition by the Assembly and indicated that the group has in place a ‘task force’ to monitor the activities of members and ensure they abide by the regulations guiding the operations in the effort to make Ghana clean.

CSOs present at the event including Window of Change Foundation, GAYO, Colibar, Sesa Recycling and Human Rights Reporters Ghana made presentations on opportunities available at their organisations for working with the informal sector waste collectors.

The ‘Cleaning from the bottom up project’ is led by the IESS of the University of Ghana and is aimed at working with GEMA and CSOs to pilot the formalisation of the informal waste sector in the Municipality. The project is also being conducted in Lagos Nigeria and is funded by the International Science Council through the LIRA Programme.