Residents of Somanya in the Yilo Krobo District of the Eastern Region who were hit by a rainstorm are yet to receive relief items eight months after the disaster that roofed off and destroyed several residential and commercial buildings and left over 750 residents displaced.
The 15-minute storm which occurred on 25th November, 2019 uprooted trees, ripped off roofs of 176 households and commercial buildings, tore electricity poles down and injured about five persons.
The storm also rendered extensive damages to cars including vehicles belonging to the staff of Barclays Bank, Yilo Star microfinance, the AGT Microfinance among others.
Officials of NADMO visited the community to assess the extent of damage, which according to them, would determine the kind of relief to be given to the residents.
They assured the victims that they would begin the distribution of the items once the assessment was completed and promised to mobilize relief items to support affected residents.
But as at 18th July, 2020, no relief item has been distributed.
Most residential buildings, particularly in Plau and Akutunya, both suburbs of Somanya, had their roofs ripped off in the storm, a situation the Member of Parliament and the former finance minister identified as enough reason to donate some relief items as a first measure towards assisting the victims.
Following the natural disaster, MP for the area, Magnus Kofi Amoateng and former finance minister, Seth Terkper together with another philanthropist donated 23 bundles of roofing sheets to the assembly.
But eight months on, the victims say they are yet to receive the relief items from the Yilo Krobo Municipal Assembly despite persistent appeals.
This reporter visited some of the victims in the communities and reports that all the residents who were affected by the disaster are yet to receive help.
The victims say the assembly’s failure to distribute the relief items to them continue to have dire effects on them.
Some of them who spoke in an interview wondered why authorities of the assembly were refusing to come to their aid despite the donation of the relief items.
One of them, 64-year-old Juliana Adamptey who had the roof of her kitchen and bedroom ripped apart shared her story.
“My roof was ripped off. Some roofing sheets were donated to be given to us but they have not given them to us. I was therefore compelled to credit some roofing sheets [to roof my building,” said Juliana Adamptey. “The storm brought a lot of difficulties to me as I had nowhere to lay my head. My properties were getting wet as we entered the rainy season so I had to go credit some roofing sheets.”
Another, 63-year-old Grace Serwaah Adamptey narrates a similar ordeal. She said the situation had compelled her to spend about Ghc 1200 on renovation after waiting on the assembly for a long time to no avail.
“The roof ripped off from my room and the NADMO officials came to do their assessment, we therefore expected the relief items they promised us but that has not materialized,” she said, appealing that the amount she spent on the renovation which was a loan she took, be refunded to her.
A septuagenarian, Grace Adamptey equally shared her story.
She said though she personally joined the assembly to receive the relief items which were presented to the assembly, they have not yet been presented to them.
According to her, she has not been able to repair her damaged roof, leaving her belongings at the mercy of the rains as she is unable to afford the cost of reroofing her affected rooms.
The victims said though officials at the local assembly persistent assured them that they would receive the items, nothing has been done yet.
This reporter caught up with the municipal NADMO director, Michael Jackson Bruku who explained that his outfit could not distribute the 23 bundles of roofing sheets to over 176 households that were affected in the storm.
This therefore meant the organization was awaiting some response from the regional office, he explained, together with other contributions from benevolent individuals and organizations to ensure that all affected persons were adequately covered.
“The houses that were damaged were in their numbers and 23 bundles of roofing sheets cannot [suffice for all of them],” the director argued.
He however added that the only institution that had received support was the Ghana Police Service that took delivery of two packets of the iron sheets, “due to the emergency nature of the police situation.”
“In short, we cannot put these few items to the disposal of the over 170 households, it’ll be insult so we are expecting that headquarters of NADMO will come to our aid,” Mr. Bruku said adding that the rest of the items were still in the possession of the NADMO.
The NADMO director expressed worry over the ‘politicization of the issue,’ explaining that the organization had been accused of distributing the items to members of the NPP, an allegation he flatly denied.
He said NADMO could not distribute the items to selected victims as a result of these allegations.
“We even have some vulnerable ones but the community is playing politics with the items that we are giving it to the NPP members, meanwhile apart from the Ghana Police, as I’m speaking to you, we’ve not given anybody an item so if I should call some few now [and give it to them]…won’t they go back to what they said earlier that we’re doing selective distribution?” he quizzed.
This explanation however did not go down well with the victims who argued that the available items should be distributed to the poor victims in distress even if they would not suffice for all victims instead of waiting to receive more before distribution.