NEWS COMMENTARY ON PERENNIAL FLOODING OF THE CITY OF ACCRA DURING RAINS
The fact that Accra the capital city of Ghana is sitting on a time bomb cannot be disputed. Each time it rains, the city gets so flooded that life virtually comes to a standstill. Changes in weather and signs of rains send shivers down the spines of many residents especially those in slum areas. Improper planning, choked gutters which block the drainage system and a few human factors can be said to be the cause of floods in Accra. The June 3 flood and fire disaster which claimed at least 150 lives is still fresh in our minds. According to NADMO, the rains this year have claimed 16 lives.Areas noted for floods each time it rains include the Kaneshie Market and its surroundings, Adabraka Odawna, Mataheko, Graphic road, Darkuman and Weija Gbawe. In Accra several houses have been built on waterways and the water course has been blocked by encroachers. People dump refuse into the drains which tends to choke the system. The Kpeshie, Korle, Densu, Sakumono, Lafa, and Odaw drainage basins are all silted and the earlier something is done about them the better.
The Ghana Meteorological Agency has issued a weather warning predicting more rains this year. This makes it imperative to strengthen the disaster management system so we are not overtaken by events. Reports that about 2.5 million people in the odaw river basin are to benefit from improved flood risk management are quite invigorating. Also coming as good news are reports that the German Development Agency, GIZ and Allianz Ghana are spearheading a project to develop insurance models for extreme climate events in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area. The project dubbed “Develop Insurability Projects’ is aimed at helping the municipalities to develop contingency plans to help reduce the impacts of anticipated hazards and disasters including flooding. The three-year project which has taken off in Ga West, Ga East as well as the Accra Metropolitan Area is intended for all municipalities to better manage the annual flood risk and make them more resilient to climate change. Just recently, government outlined a comprehensive flood management programme to help address the engineering shortfalls in Accra’s drainage system which is the bane of the perennial flooding in the city. The rationale behind the 200-million-dollar project is to help reduce vulnerability to floods in low income areas like Nima, Alajo, Akweteyman and Agbogbloshie. Undoubtedly all these projects will yield little success if the people do not change their attitude towards environmental sanitation. The Local Assemblies must initiate efforts to cover the drainage system to prevent litter from getting into them.
NADMO must be well resourced to help rehabilitate flood victims. People in low lying areas must be encouraged to use a lot of vegetation to help break the power of moving flood waters and also reduce erosion. The city Authorities must enforce regulations requiring that developers acquire the necessary permit before building. This will help prevent encroaching on waterways. Demolition exercises must be carried out to bring down all buildings on waterways. In situations where we use plastics for almost everything must be discouraged else the plastic manufacturing Companies must be levied so revenue realised can be used in cleaning up the littering. We cannot stop the rains from falling but at least pragmatic measures can be put in place to protect vulnerable areas from the devastating effects of flood waters. We commend the Ghana Police Service and NADMO for living up to their responsibilities by evacuating people threatened by the floods. Disaster prevention is a shared responsibility and people must be conscious of that fact. A stitch in time saves nine.
BY: JUSTICE MINGLE – A JOURNALIST.