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Residents at risk of respiratory illnesses due to delayed Sherigu-Naaga road construction

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Residents along the Bolga-Sherigu-Naaga road are experiencing severe health issues due to ongoing road construction that has led to significant dust pollution. The dust has become a daily challenge, impacting both their health and livelihoods.

Alobenuo Akugre, a well-known musician in the Sherigu community, has been particularly affected. Akugre, who suffers from a chronic respiratory condition, has found himself visiting the hospital more frequently. Health workers have mistakenly suspected him of engaging in illegal mining due to his worsening condition. “I have a respiratory condition, and every time I visit the hospital, they think I am involved in mining activities. It’s actually the dust from the road construction,” Akugre lamented.

The construction of the Bolga-Sherigu-Naaga road began in 2019 and was initially slated for completion by the end of 2022. However, due to funding issues, the project has been delayed, causing continuous dust pollution that residents are forced to endure.

Ivy Anaba, a lactating mother and small business owner near the construction site, expressed her concerns about the dust’s impact on her family and business. “The dust affects us a lot. Some customers have stopped coming because of it. I get catarrh from sitting outside all day. I can’t stay outside because of my child, which affects my business since I have to monitor the workers indoors,” Anaba said.

Ivy Anaba

Dr. Patrick Azebire Anamoo, a medical doctor at Amiah Hospital in Bolgatanga, confirmed the detrimental health effects of dust pollution on residents. “Environmental pollution is harmful to everyone. Someone without a respiratory condition exposed to these pollutants stands a higher risk of developing one. The effects on infants are particularly concerning, as they can develop pneumonia, bronchitis, and rhinitis from such exposure,” Dr. Anamoo explained.

Dr. Patrick Azebire Anamoo

The delayed construction has also led to increased motor accidents, according to Atanga Atuah, a member of the local unit committee. “The dust is causing us a lot of problems, including avoidable accidents. Motorbike riders speed to avoid inhaling the dust, leading to crashes,” Atuah noted.

Residents have resorted to self-medication due to the health impacts, but even this solution is hindered by the dust coating over-the-counter medicines. “We cannot be locking the sliding door all the time, so dust gets into the drugs, and clients often complain. Some of the prescriptions the clients bring here are related to the dust and its impact. Conditions of irritation of the eye and asthma. When you look at the statistics, you will see that the cough syrup moves faster because of the effect of the dust,” Samuel Nsobila, a nurse and pharmacy owner, stated.

Samuel Nsobila – a nurse and pharmacy owner

Dr. Anamoo urged residents to wear nose masks and called on the contractor to reduce dust pollution by watering the area regularly. “Leaders should ensure the area is watered to reduce dust. Frequent cleaning and dusting of homes can also help mitigate the problem,” he advised.

Isaac Aayire – Project Manager of Araco Construction Limited

Residents are eager to see the 30.85 km road construction project completed, which has dragged on for five years instead of the initial 18 months. Isaac Aayire, Project Manager of Araco Construction Limited, assured that the cause of the delays had been resolved and that measures to reduce dust pollution would be implemented. “It is true that we are to water the road to minimize the dust level and we are taking care of that. Sooner than later, those challenges would be resolved. We are optimistic about completing the road by the end of this year. The bitumen will be laid from Bolga to Naaga,” Mr. Aayire affirmed.

As the contractor makes progress to complete the road, the residents of Sherigu and Naaga continue to grapple with the daily reality of air pollution, hoping for swift action to restore their quality of life and health.

This report was produced in collaboration with New Narratives with funding from the Clean Air Fund, which had no say in editorial content.

A1Radioonline.com|101.1Mhz|Joshua Asaah|Sherigu|Ghana

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