Monday, January 30, 2006

Clean Up Day!

New Experience Day: Saturday was Accra's "clean up exercise". All businesses were closed from 5AM to 12PM and no commercial vehicles were allowed on the roads. During this time, everyone was supposed to work on clearing out rubbish and detritus from their space.

It was a limited success. About 10AM we went out to see what Accra was like with no Taxis and no Tro-Tros. About 80% of them were idled, but there were still quite a few rolling around town. There were a LOT of unfortunate people hoofing it down Liberation Road who couldn't get any transport and needed to be somewhere...all the stores were closed (and I mean all - brick and mortar, container stores, plywood box stores, roadside Cell phone unit vendors- everyone!), and although we didn't see people actively cleaning up, that had more to do with late rising (lazy) Obronis than with lack of enthusiasm by the citizens of Accra- even at 10AM things just generally seemed tidier around town.

There were also lots of fires. Fire is the usual way to dispose of things here- we have garbage pickup, but it's costly for a Ghanaian (about $11 a month) so most things are burned. On clean up exercise day, there were a huge number of fires burning all over town.

We got this note (click picture to make it large enough to read) from our security company explaining why our guards might not be at their post lickety split Saturday morning. (We weren't sure if this meant that there would be no shift change or no guards at all...) In any case, we needn't have worried- our Saturday guard, Paoli, is nothing if not reliable. He is about 70 or 80 and his son is one of our night guards. He isn't quick and he isn't strong, but he is very kind and he was at his post bright and early Saturday morning just like every Saturday since we moved in.

I asked Duke about the clean up exercise and he said:

"We are hoping to make this happen every month. If we can do that, then our city will become very neat!"

I'm skeptical that the merchants will agree to losing 7 precious hours of custom every month, but you never know.