Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia has paid a condolence visit to the Talensi District, weeks after torrential rains and excess water tipped out August from Burkina Faso’s Bagre Dam claimed lives and property in the Upper East region.
He donated Gh¢5,000 each on behalf of government to families of two farmers killed by flood waters in the district and spoke about some latest steps being taken to begin construction work on the multipurpose Pwalugu Dam in the area.
“The studies have shown that if we construct the Pwalugu Dam, it would have essentially three benefits for us. First of all, the dam would provide the flood control that we need. With the dam, it’s clear that the spillage from the Bagre Dam would be controlled. Second, it would provide hydroelectric power. And third, it would serve as a source of irrigation for our farms. President Kufuor was very intent on the construction of the Pwalugu Dam.
“But notwithstanding the funds which have been provided, those funds were diverted when the NPP Government left office. When President Akufo-Addo met with his cabinet, he raised the issue of the Pwalugu Dam again. And he tasked us to make sure we bring the issue to the front burner. And on October 1, the meeting is being held at the Jubilee House specifically on the Pwalugu Dam Project. We are very determined to make sure this project comes to light. We are going to push it and I will be your chief driver,” Dr. Bawumia said Saturday at Tongo, the district capital.
He added: “We have lost two people as a result of the flood— Dok Yingura, who is 47, from Gorigo, and Boazuzor Mwabil, 51, from Tongo. President Nana Akufo-Addo has said we should assist each of the families with Gh¢5,000 to help in the burial, funeral and in taking care of the children of the deceased.”
Promise and protest from bereaved families
The Talensi District Chief Executive, Dr. Christopher Boatbil, described the commiseration visit paid by the Vice President and his entourage as a clear indication that the NPP Government cared for the people.
A younger brother of the late Boazuzor, Tobigzor Tobeg, visibly touched by the sympathy and support the bereaved family received from the Presidency, told Starr News the mourning family would “help” President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at the 2020 general elections in return for the assistance he gave them Saturday.
“His elder brother just died. We are yet to perform the funeral. Our last father died in the same house. We are yet to perform that funeral, too. And he has come to add. We now have three funerals. At least, we are happy for the President’s support. With this money, we can cater for his children and perform his funeral,” an elder brother to the late Dok Yingura, Samuel Awuni Naoh, told Starr News.
Some people registered open protests on the sidelines of the event, saying they had lost relatives to the flood but were not consoled with any cash from government Saturday as expected. Daniel Alibo, a teacher, complained that his relation, Anabila Azure, died at Winkogo when a house collapsed on him amid torrential rains.
He said the organisers of the event told him Azure’s family had been captured on the bereaved list the Vice President had been given and asked him to bring the grieving family to the grounds for a relief package from government.
“But to our shock, the family is here, left out, nobody is telling us anything and you expect us to be quiet about it when the Vice President is around,” he bickered as some National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) officials and NPP executives tried to calm him down whilst assuring him his concerns would be addressed.
Overwhelmed by historic sympathy
The flood disaster so far has claimed 15 lives in the region and has left a NADMO rescue team still searching for 2 bodies in the White Volta.
At least 8,560 houses have been rendered inhabitable as they have either partially collapsed or fallen completely. The devastation done to farmlands covers 38,015 acres or 15,206 hectares, according to NADMO. And no fewer than 13,395 farmers, who cultivated mainly maize, rice, sorghum, groundnuts and millet, have been affected.
“Of course, so many people have been affected with this devastation. And that is why we are providing relief items. And these items include rice, sugar and oil and mattresses, mosquito coil, water and so on. They will be delivered to the [survivors] by NADMO in due course,” Dr. Bawumia told the gathering.
The Vice President was accompanied by the Minister for Defence, Dominic Nitiwul, the Minister for the Interior, Ambrose Dery, the Minister for Aviation, Kofi Adda, the Upper East Regional Chairman of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), Lawyer Anthony Namoo, and the NADMO Director-General, Eric Nana Agyeman-Prempeh.
“This is not the first time we have had floods,” the Paramount Chief of the Talensi Traditional Area, Tong Raan Kugbilsong Nanlebegtang, said at the function.
“But this is the first time we in the Talensi land have had a high level of delegation from the government side to visit us in the period where we’ve had floods,” he added, surrounded by his divisional chiefs as a section of the crowd approved his remark with applause.
The statement reminded some amused observers of how some panicky domestic animals, to the shock of their owners, unpegged themselves from grazing fields and crisscrossed one another in search of hiding places when the helicopters bringing the Vice President and his entourage to the district came close to the ground.
For the fear-stricken animals, too, the sympathy visit was historic. Saturday was, perhaps, the first time in their entire lives they had seen a flying ‘monster’ with an L-shaped tail, a whirling crest and an earth-shaking noise. And more, which could not unpeg themselves at the arrival of the helicopters, managed to free themselves, making loud noises everywhere as the guests took leave of the hilly district on same aircrafts.
For some, how the animals were able to defy the pegging settled the saying that “You never know how strong you are until you need to be strong”.