160 cesspit emptiers move to new ‘Lavender Hill’ plant…as facility continues with test run
By Edmund Smith-Asante, ACCRA
As of February 1, this year, the new ‘Lavender Hill’ faecal treatment plant put up adjacent the over-a-century-old broken down old facility that was christened ‘Lavender Hill’ had begun receiving over 160 sewage trucks daily.
The new “Lavendar Hill” treatment plant…
Faecal Trucks off loading waste at the new treatment site…
Scene from the famous Lavendar Hill site….
The dumping of untreated faecal waste into the sea at Korle Gonno because the facility to treat it had broken down for several years attracted international attention and was seen as a big shame and blot on the conscience of the country.
That was what culminated in the construction of an environmentally acceptable facility through a public-private partnership among Sewerage Systems Ghana Limited (SSGL), the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA).
With a 2,400 cubic-metre capacity, the faecal treatment plant can also generate over 7.5 megawatts of power.
The Plant Engineer and General Manager of the facility, Mrs Florence Cobbold, told the Daily Graphic during a visit to the site on Thursday, February 2, 2017 that as many as 162 sewage trucks emptied their contents at the plant, the highest number since a test run of the facility began on December 30, 2017.
She said initially the drivers of the sewage trucks were reluctant to dump their cargo at the new facility, as they thought they would spent too much time offloading.
It took a truck an average of 10 minutes to empty its content at the facility, she added.
During the visit, the Daily Graphic team realised that trucks took very little time to empty their contents and the truck drivers were satisfied with the process.
Mrs Cobbold said with a little encouragement, the trucks started arriving in their numbers to dump their liquid waste at the facility, which was inaugurated by former President John Mahama on November 25, 2016.
She said the plant had not yet began full operations and was still undergoing a test run and hoped the tests would be completed in about a month.
A monitoring table for sewage trucks using the facility shows that from only three trucks on December 30, 2016, the number had increased to 60 by January 14, 2017.
The number increased to 64, then to 90 trucks on January 18 and then 128 on January 19, 2017.
The number of trucks thereafter decreased until it picked up once again to 136 on January 30. It then rose to 158 the next day, increasing to 162 on February 1, 2017, bringing the average number of trucks that visited the faecal treatment plant to about 84 a day.
The monitoring chart also showed the peak hours for dumping to be between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. daily, with the average number of trucks that called at the facility between those hours being 24.
According to the monitored figures, a cumulative figure of over 1,677 trucks had visited during the period.
Decommissioning of ‘Lavender Hill’
On why some trucks were still dumping at the old faecal disposal site, Mrs Cobbold explained that the SSGL, which was operating the new and modern treatment plant, had noted that some of the trucks did not have the required decoupling system to enable them to dislodge their contents through a piping system into the plant.
Those trucks, which she said were two, were the ones still using the broken down facility, while others which, in view of their design always had some leftover of the waste in their tanks after dislodging at the new plant, preferred to go back to ‘Lavender Hill’ to discard the rest.
She, however, assured the drivers that the sewage trucks without the decoupling system would be assisted to have them fixed on their trucks, so that they would refrain from dumping at the old site.
She was optimistic that in the next four weeks there would be a final and total decommissioning of ‘Lavender Hill’.
Mrs Cobbold also expressed worry over the fact that the truck operators did not use protective gear, noting that they were constantly being advised and educated on the need to be in proper gear to avoid contracting infections.
For now, the trucks that dislodge their contents at the new plant are charged GH¢20 for each trip, but checks showed that those trucks charge between GH¢300 and GH¢400 to empty the cesspit tanks of clients, depending on the distance.
Writer’s email: email@example.com
The faecal treatment plant was constructed by Nanjing Wonders Environmental Protection Company Limited, a Chinese firm, for Sewerage Systems Ghana Limited through a public-private partnership (PPP).
The project started on September 9, 2014 and occupies a land area of 7.5 acres, with a block of offices, including a laboratory, grid screening machines, a 5,500m3 storage tank, a machine for odour control and an Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket (UASB).