THE CURRENT SITUATION
Achimota School’s almost 80-year-old sewer system—never once upgraded—has collapsed. Raw sewage, including human waste, is leaking into gutters from the main pipes and onto the grounds of this 1300-acre campus, once West Africa’s leading coeducational secondary school and the alma mater of six heads of state. This has created a public health crisis. Achimota’s more than 4,500 students and staff form a close-knit community. The possibility of an outbreak of typhoid, dysentery or cholera is therefore very high.
In January, 2010, health inspectors from the Accra Metropolitan Assembly toured the school and immediately issued a directive to the Headmistress to shut down the school if the problem were not resolved within two weeks. The situation is that serious.
Private developers have illegally built on Achimota land—in some cases directly or almost directly on top of the sewer system’s main lines. This has cracked and clogged many of the pipes. This appears to be why the system has declined so rapidly in recent years. Experts indicate that repairs could be difficult unless some of these buildings are demolished.
If the school does not close down, and a student were to die from a disease such as typhoid, the school and government authorities could have a full-scale legal nightmare on their hands.
The crisis is attracting the attention and concern of thousands all around the world.
Please join us by signing the online petition.
The school does not have the money to rehabilitate a complex 5000-user sewer system that is almost 80 years old, part of which now lies under encroachments. Initial estimates indicate that the financial costs will be substantial.
Achimota is a fully government-owned school. It has no power on its own to raise school fees to augment its maintenance budget. We believe that the Government has a clear legal duty to undertake major repair projects at a government school, especially when it was the Government itself that ordered the school to close down unless it resolves the crisis.
Achimota’s alumni have offered the school significant assistance in the past, and will actively continue to assist it to meet its many pressing needs. However, a major infra¬structural project such as this goes well beyond alumni charity. The bulk, if not all, of the financial commitment for rehabilitating the sewer system must therefore come from Government.
WHAT WE ARE URGING
For these reasons, and in the interest of public health, we firmly but respectfully urge the Government and the Parliament of Ghana
- To approve enough funds to enable Achimota to rebuild its sewer system and thereby stave off a public health crisis that could lead to water supply contamination or an outbreak of disease;
- To assist the school in its legal case to halt all encroachment activity;
- To support the school’s efforts to clear enough land around the sewage plant to make it possible to rehabilitate the sewer system;
- In the longer run, to clarify the Government’s relationship to its schools and draw up a comprehensive policy for the sustainable maintenance of the assets of government schools.
The Achimota School Foundation has created a Quick-Glance Fact Sheet that summarizes the essential points of this crisis.