Wednesday June 10, 2015
- The people of Ghana end 3 days of national mourning after
floods and fires left more than 150 people dead. Our prayers are
with you Ghana that the Good Lord will comfort you in your hour
of grief and pain.
It first started with an unusual
downpour as reported by the
BBC's Sammy Darko in Accra
with rising and raging waters getting higher by the minute and
angry floods sweeping away all that got in their way.
One eyewitness compared it to
the Biblical floods that are often associated with Noah in the
Good Book, the Holy Bible. And then came reports of an explosion
at a fuel station and with the ensuing raging fire, it seems all
hell was let loose upon an unsuspecting population that had gone
to seek shelter from the raging waters - giving the sad episode
and even Biblical tinge of fire and floods hitting those the
Good Lord was keen on punishing.
On the scene, the BBC's Sammy
Darko reports - "Two days of heavy rain has brought much of the
city to its knees. There are chaotic scenes with cars being
carried away by the water and many roads blocked off. Hundreds
have been trapped in their offices and some have been forced to
spend the night in their cars as traffic came to a standstill.
Parts of Accra have been left without power as electricity
sub-stations have been damaged in the flooding, which is making
the ongoing energy shortages even worse."
However floods in Accra,
one news outlet is nothing
Year after year residents have
been complaining about the need for governments to do something
about the drainage and sewerage systems of the country's
capital. True to form as with a number of African governments,
those in power will promise, promise and promise to do something
about it but in the end will do sweet nothing.
The recent tragedy is a
manifestation of what happens when governments pay lip service
to the needs of the people and continue to fool them using each
and every trick in the deck of cards to deceive, hoodwink and
lead the poor by the nose. The Ghanaweb online has noted -
"Flood occurrence in Accra is
not exactly news. The predictability of government leaders in
assuring that something will be done to make the current year’s
flood the last on their watch is also not news.
What is news is not only the
casualty levels, but also the apparent lack of preparedness by
the various levers of government to deal adequately with the
immediate aftermath of floods in terms of displaced persons,
injured persons, collapsed buildings, debris, you name it. The
lack of preparedness to deal with the June 4, 2015 floods is
exemplified by Mr. Oko Vanderpuije, the Mayor of Accra, who was
busy hosting Mayors from around the World during the week of the
"On July 12, 2010, an 11-member
Task Force headed by Commodore Steve Obimpeh (then Senior
Presidential Advisor), that was established to look into the
flood situation in Accra, among others, presented its report.
The Task Force had been set up by President Mills on June 24,
The Report, according to a
statement that was signed by the then Minister of Information,
Mr. John Akologu Tia, was received by the then Chief of Staff,
Mr. Henry Martey Newman. It was reported then that the Task
Force, per their Report, had made recommendations for short-,
medium-, and long-term measures to curb the perennial flooding
situation in Accra. Mr. Newman assured that government would act
on the recommendations.
On November 6, 2012, Ghanaians were informed that the Accra
Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), in partnership with Conti
Infrastructure Ghana Limited was to start work on a $595m Accra
Sanitation, Sewer, Stormwater and Drainage Alleviation Project
to control the perennial flooding and sanitation challenges in
Parliament, Ghanaians were
told, had already approved the loan facilities with the EXIM
Bank of the USA and Standard Chartered Bank. A number of fanfare
and public sensitization exercises followed that ended with
President Mahama cutting a sod in January 2013 to signal the
commencement of the project.
As at the time of the sod
cutting, the project, dubbed Accra Sanitary Sewer and Stormwater
Drainage Alleviation Project was estimated at $663,299,496 and
was projected to be completed over a five-year period.
Nothing at the sod-cutting site
today reflects this project. What happened?"
While Ghanaians hope that
lessons could be learnt from the tragedy, though the true
figures for the dead, wounded and traumatised are yet to be
verified, we do hope that what passes for a government of the
people in Sierra Leone will take due note.
We have been receiving reports
of the large scale deforestation that continues to be encouraged
around the hills and catchment areas of the capital Freetown.
Those who can afford it, are allowed to build in areas that were
meant to provide the necessary environment for precipitation to
be harvested for the dwindling reservoirs of the capital as the
1960's Guma Valley project can no longer cater for a growing
population whose water needs appear to be increasing
As the competition for getting
structures up around the Hill Station and other areas including
those around Fourah Bay College, we would again want to warn
about the dangers being courted.
A heavy and unpredicted
downpour could well be the catalyst that would ignite a disaster
just waiting to happen.
This observation on the
BBC website sums up the
challenges the authorities in Ghana face as residents of the
capital audit the damage after the floods and fire -
as the waters recede and the sheer scale of the death and
destruction become clear, there is growing anger and
consternation among the people.
This is a city that is choked
with plastic. If we did not know it before, our city has been
exposed as an overgrown village with pretensions of grandeur.
Many parts of the city look as though there was a tank battle
fought in the midst of an urban war.
The flood waters deposited
motor vehicles of all kinds in the most unlikely places - atop
walls and trees, inside drains and piled on top of each other.
Many fence walls around grand homes in Accra have collapsed. A
surprising number of people had to take shelter on the roofs of
their homes and watch as the flood waters entered their rooms
and their belongings floated away.
Here's part of what
Ghana's President Mahama
told the nation at the special service at the end of three days
of national mourning. There are lessons to be gleaned from his
"I went, as President, to visit
the site of the disaster. As I stood there in the midst of the
debris and saw the extent of the destruction and the number of
lives that had been claimed by death, I found myself utterly
speechless. Yet as I stood there, the words that came to heart
and mind were those from Scripture: “Of a truth I perceive that
God is no respecter of persons.”...
while I know that despite whatever sorrow we feel, our pain
cannot surpass that of those whose friends, companions, mates
and relations have been taken away from them, we nevertheless
stand with all of you as one united family to share the burden
of your grief. The loss that our nation has suffered is
...There are those who will
wish to apportion blame and, quite truthfully, there is plenty
of blame to go around. But when we list, one by one, the various
mistakes and failings that contributed to the catastrophe, I
hope it is not for the purpose of pointing fingers but rather of
making certain that something of this nature never again happens
in this country. The conversation should not be centred on what
past governments did not do but, rather, on what this government
must and will do.
...Government has started clearing all the illegal structures
obstructing our waterways. The relevant authorities are being
enjoined to ensure compliance with the safety codes for
buildings and the enforcement of our sanitation by-laws.
...We have commenced an urgent clearance of filth and waste from
our storm drains and lagoons. We have also commenced the design
and implementation of a more adequate and efficient drainage
system for Accra.
In addition, funds have been
provided for the reconstruction of the roads and other public
infrastructure that were destroyed by the floods."