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Flooding in Accra, Ghana: How can we help the victims

Tue, 16 Jun 2015 Source: Bonna, Okyere

On Wednesday June 3, 2015 Accra was submerged after a torrential rain which left in its wake a disaster of unprecedented proportion. Many parts of the capital including, Alajo, Adabraka, Awoshie, Tesano Dzorwulu were badly hit with lots of properties and human lives destroyed.

However this tragedy should not be a surprise to the Ghana government. History of flooding and potential disaster has been documented. Funds allocated to solve the problem have also been documented. At least $600 million is supposed to have been earmarked to fix the Accra drainage issues. Several city experts had complained about the haphazard way structures are put up in the city and have warned of massive destruction of properties and potential loss of lives if nothing was done about the situation.

According to land experts, most parts of Accra lie in a lowland area and by disposition can easily be flooded with an average rainfall. This means that authorities had pre knowledge of the problem of flooding in the city of Accra. They knew the problem could be compounded when structures are built on waterways coupled with choked gutters, yet did little to nothing about it. Some of the areas the experts have mentioned as flood prone include: Sakaman, Kamara Down, Agege Bridge, Abolo-Junction, Mataheko, Atico Junction, Kaneshie Lorry Station Areas, Portions Of East Legon, Zamarima Line, Banana Inn, Abelenkpe, some parts of Dwowulo,Sukula, Russia, Bawaleshe, Airport port areas, Roman Ridge; Kwame Nkrumah Circle was not even mentioned.

According to Ghana General News, in the wake of the disaster there had been calls for the Accra Metropoltian Assembly (AMA) to demolish structures on waterways to ensure safe passage of rain water. The AMA is said to have heeded to the call and begun a number of demolitions. The one at Achimota went on successfully albeit few protests. The task force from the AMA went to Bukom, a popular vicinity in the Ododiodiodoo Constituency to continue its demolition exercise. A number of shops and houses were demolished. According to Ghana News this time there was a stiff resistance from residents who did not want their houses and shops to be broken down. One of the victims was said to have called the MP, Nii Lante Vanderpuye, who came to the scene and allegedly stopped the task force from going ahead with the demolition. “The residents gave him shouts of praise”, Ridwan reported (General News of Monday, 8 June 2015).

In the midst of the storm came an explosion of fire that floored the Goil Filling Station at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle. The blaze eventually claimed dozens of human lives and businesses as well. The flood and fire disaster is believed to have claimed over 200 lives, destroyed properties running into millions of cedis and brought many businesses to a standstill in Accra, the capital.

President Mahama declared a 3-day national mourning for victims beginning Monday, June 8, with a national memorial service held on Wednesday, June 10. The government, a statement noted, promised to take responsibility for the hospital bills of all victims of the flood and fire disaster. Also promised by the state were food items and blankets, mattresses, mosquito nets, mosquito coils, clothing, buckets, bowls and basins. What we have not heard is any liability of Goil (Ghana Oil) and any resettlement plan for the affected groups.

On a Radio Talk show I host with Dr. Arthur Kennedy on Monday nights at 8:00pm -9:00pm EST pm., Sunlight Radio America, we decided to solicit and rally material support for the flood and fire victims. Unfortunately we could not find any specific address, email, or telephone contact of a state apparatus one could send help (from overseas). Information of office or location people could send help was vague; even Red Cross Ghana was not available or ready to be reached. All we could find was ** Persons and organisations with donations may send them to the Greater Accra Regional Coordinating Council, near the Teachers Hall in Accra. ***

Fortunately, our distinguished guest, Dr. Danso, President of Ghana Leadership Union was able to connect us to a Ghanaian lady in California who has taken it upon herself to organize Diaspora help for the flood victims. Not only is Ms. Regina OLDAM working hard to raise substantial help and send herself but she is ready to work with any individual and organizations willing to team up and work together. Regina Oldam can be reached at 209-613-6527. Please feel free to call her and give her leads to other organizations that could help. Meanwhile, I recommend the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO), health officials and ordinary citizens whose interventions helped limit the scale of destruction to lives and property.

While I appeal to the government to do something about the appalling manner the authorities are handling communiqué of receiving potential and substantial relief for the victims, it is even more crucial to begin work on a long term solution immediately, now that the mourning is over.

1. Ghana Government must enforce the country’s laws and statues to avert a recurrence {eg,. safety regulations at filling station].: On his Facebook page commentary Dr. Arthur Kennedy(June 2015) wrote: “The following filling stations should be area of concerns to authorities; (1). Community 1 Total filing station, it's situated in densely populated area and at the middle of market that serve the whole market. (2). Filing station adjacent FAMILY HEALTH HOSPITAL exactly opposite Kofi Annan peace keeping Centre. It shared wall with hospital which have a sick ward and maternity ward, should anything happens these people will not be able to run for their lives.” HOW LONG CAN AUTHORITIES WAIT?

2. Ghana Government must ensure those in water passage ways are evacuated. Meanwhile, government must either provide or make it easier for others to provide alternative accommodation –resettlement plan/schedule.

3. Ghana Government must ensure that the proper Skills Training is provided to deal with future problems. This would be a better long-term assistance to flood victims than the distribution of mattresses and food.

4. AMA should not only fulfill and complete the removal of structures on water ways and construct storm drains to direct the flow of running water but also engage Town Planning and enforce proper acquisition of building permits.

5. Ghana Government must work with appropriate ministries to provide public education and awareness.

6. Ghana Government must set up emergency disaster fund as well as a national Task Force outfit.

PARLIAMENT: Establish a non-partisan National Planning Commission to award national contracts and oversee the continuity of, and completion of national projects. Roads and other infrastructures are often abandoned when government changes. Maintenance is a problem and inspections of projects to ensure safety rules are missing. All these are a result of lack of continuity and proper supervision. How long would the Ghana government continue to be irresponsible and only mourn the death of innocent citizens?

Okyere Bonna

www.okyerebonna.org.?

Problem

1.ACCRA population of 4 million. Has no real storm drain or sewage system beyond the colonial era pipes that served 15% of the city

2, ACCRA relies on entirely open sewers CONSTRUCTED IN THE 1970S.

3. IT is documented that a few fetid rivers and lagoon are choked with about 3 storeys of silt and trash

Therefore every time a tropical storm happens at high tide, the lagoon backs up into rivers and open sewers flooding much of the city.

2. NOTE: In July 2010 It is recordered that Areas such as Abelenkpe, Dwowulo,Sukula, Zamarima line, roman ridge, mateheko, Russia and Atico, were serve with AMA demolition notices several months ago. Additionally other areas prone to floods were scheduled to inevitably see some form of demolition

CITIZENS

1. stop littering [the government must also PROVIDE EASING POINTS and Garbage cans as well as be responsible and enforce its laws]

2.

On his facebook commentary Dr. Arthur Kennedy(June 2015) wrote:

The following filling stations should be area of concerns to authorities;

1. Community 1 Total filing station, it's situated in densely populated area and at the middle of market that serve the whole market

2. Filing station adjacent FAMILY HEALTH HOSPITAL exactly opposite Kofi Annan peace keeping Centre. it shared wall with hospital which have a sick ward and maternity ward, should anything happens these people will not be able to run for their lives .

...

Columnist: Bonna, Okyere