Mr Speaker, the history of the situation along the River Volta in Ghana from Upper East to Akosombo/Kpong Dam then to Ada Foah, hence down streams of both the Bagre Dam in Burkina Faso and the Akosombo Dam, which is supposed to be like a gold mine for improving the macroeconomics and financial stability of Ghana is rather a nightmare to Ghana, especially during the rainy seasons.
Like what Edmund Burke said ‘’the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing’, and that ‘Every Citizen must use his knowledge and experiences for the development of the Nation’’ Hence my mail to you.
Mr Right Hon Speaker, please, you as a National Leader (Statesman), a person constitutionally in the third role to perform the functions of the President of Ghana, as stipulated in Clause (11) of Article 60 of the 1992 Constitution, hence, a potential father of the Whole Nation, so as a Convening Authority for a planned investigation into the flood hazards as occasioned by River Volta, please do not act rashly in the planned Investigation into the Akosombo Dam Spillage simply because of the sentiments from the public/ some Hon MPs.
It is good to express sympathy for the pains and the losses of some assets by some of our compatriots from the disaster, but it is very wrong that you as a Convening Authority for a planned investigation into an incident to jump into conclusion and apportioning blames left, center and right.
As stated, the history of the unpleasant incidents at the enclave of Akosombo Dam since 1963, the year that saw very heavy human and property casualties (over thousands of people lost their lives and a number of villages wiped out by flood) that also contributed in the delay of the start of the construction work in 1963 and prompted then President Nkrumah to rush and resettled over 80,000 people and 723 villages with some paid cash to relocate on their own and the construction villages including makeshift villages and paved the way for the construction of the Akosombo Dam which started in 1964. There were spillage at the Akosombo Dam in 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974.
The spillage incident in 1972 and 1974 also prompted General Acheampong to buy the idea of construction of the Kpong Dam, before start of work. He studied the Dr Nkrumah’s resettlement plan or policy for Akosombo Dam and used it to come out with an improved resettlement plan or a good resettlement policy that saw efficient and effective relocation of over 7,000 people and paved the way for the construction of a reservoir at Kpong to serve as a trio system namely for (a) Hydroelectric power station, (b) irrigation for farms and (c) reception dam for spillage from Akosombo Dam in order to reduce the risk of flooding at the Downstream.
Still there were spillages in 1991, 1999, 2010 and the current spillage. Not much of spillage into the environment between 1982 and 2010 due to spillage into the Kpong reservoir, but intermittent flooding hazards were recorded between 1992 and 2010 and the current one in 2023 due to heavy rains and possible spillage from the Bagre multipurpose Dam in Burkina Faso at the Upstream of Akosombo Dam. One may also be right to say that the Bagre Dam helped in the reduction of spillage at Akosombo Dam.
Mr Speaker, regardless of the unpleasant history of incidents of spillage/flooding at the enclave of Akosombo Dam since 1963, the year that saw heavy human and property casualties (over 1000 and a number of villages wiped out, hence a serious tragedy), yet with time the people came to settle in areas prone to flooding during spillage as a result they have built self-resilience to withstand flood situation as well as trust in VRA.
The people at the downstream of Akosombo Dam’s enclaves etc have lived there over several years at their own risk and have acquired resilience so their presence at affected areas under VRA is not the making of the current management of VRA. Their presence may be due to negligence by past Administrations or and by the application of the theory Social Contract.
Mr Speaker, considering the potential risk, I envisaged that the parties (VRA and the people at the Downstream) are abided by the Social Contract theory that is’ they agreed to coexist as a Society through both an explicitly and implicitly agreed set of standards that provide moral and political rule of behaviour thus provide the framework for the harmony in the Society’’ herein in the built-up area of Akosombo Dam as its enclave Society.
The Parties do bear in mind of the potential risk at the area, and both parties understand what must be done by either side before, during and after the end of the flood, and communication both direct and through indirect methods. The indirect method by the local governance system including before reoccupation of the area is permissible.
Mr Speaker, the stakeholders have a drill, in which in event of an incident, they people are warned of the state affairs and they act accordingly by self-evacuation to higher grounds at Assembly Points or to homes of friends or to safe heavens. This has been the state of affairs between VRA and her people. So, the premature personal comments and the lynching of the characters or the insulting of the professional competencies of the higher echelons staff of VRA, without an investigation into the incident for an informed state of affairs and the way forward is uncalled for/ uncivilized especially by persons who are not direct victims or from outside the affected areas .
Mr Speaker, as a student of security and safety Risks, I have come to the conclusion that the CEO and others of VRA, like the Governor of Bank of Ghana did very good jobs to prevent the collapse of Ghana due to Environmental Disaster and Financial/Economic Crisis respectively with both occasioned by exogenous or external factors or force majeure situation.
This is so, based on documentary evidenced from a simple investigation into the incident using data available in the Internet including past state of affairs especially the state of affairs in 2010 against current situation to be explained below. These situations were supported with scenes of broadcast from TV3 and Joy News on the flooding beyond the Dam at the Upstream of Akosombo Dam, which affected other Regions including Ahafo or Pru area, some parts of the North and some parts of Oti Region.
This situation was envisaged to be occasioned by heavy rains and possible spillages from the Bagre Dam, since the flooding in the Northern part occurred at the same time with the incident at the enclave of Akosombo Dam, at the Downstream,
We need to understand that the presence of the people at some of the risky areas took place several years ago and were aware and yet agreed to reside there with the associated risks, so the current Administration of VRA assumed the Risk Owners with the entrenched societies, so they are only required to manage the risk by the ritual exercising of duty of care as and when necessary to prevent loss of life by the mantra of Human Safety First.
VRA is also to give a reasonable support as at when necessary and later on give the green light before the return of the people back to the very risky homes or life that is when the green light or all cleared signal is issued by their local leaders through the local governance system including the traditional leadership system.
Mr. Speaker, Politics is a way of Life, so the Politics of Ghana is the way of Life of Ghana, so every Ghanaian must be involved in the Politics (way of life) of Ghana which is being driven by either Capitalism (the NPP as follower of Adam Smith’s concept) or Socialism (NDC and dead CPP as the followers of Karl Marx).
Mr Speaker I hope you and the Chief Justice (CJ) of Ghana with the Legislature and Executive of three Arms of Government are fully aware that based on our Nation’s political history, was the reason why the framers of the 1992 Constitution made you and the CJ to be on the third and fourth roles to occupy the Office of President of Ghana hence the Executive Arm of Government.
The Constitution of Ghana prescribed that depending on the state situation in it, for you and the CJ from the other two Arms of Government to occupy the Office of President of Ghana, regardless of the principle of Separation of Powers/checks and balances or the concept of Independence of each Arm of Government. I envisaged, it is for the Appreciation of National issues at all times by you and the CJ to be in the state of readiness as the third and fourth roles respectively to be President of Ghana as in the Constitution is for public good.
Mr Speaker Edmund Burke once said ‘Parliament is not a Congress of Ambassadors from different and hostile interest, which interests each must maintain as an agent and advocate, against other Agents and Advocates, but a Deliberative Assembly of One Nation, with one common interest, that of the Whole Nation, where, not local purpose, not local prejudices, ought to guide, but the general good of the whole Nation’.
Parliament, which is the Arm of Government. which among others is for enactment of laws and as the representation of the people of the Nation and the approval authority of all projects of the Nation or expenditures or budget of the Nation, as such, should be the Nation’s Risk Owner. So, the Speakers and Members of Parliament in the Fourth Republic thus include you must accept the blame for the poor development of this Nation for failing to ensure the right thing by the Executive Arm of Government.
Mr Right Hon Speaker, the above quotation from Edmund Burke should guide you and the Hon Members of Parliament and the entire Nation in the attempt to see to an effective development of the Nation. Mr Edmund Burke again said that ‘’those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it’’ This is the problem of our Country. For instance, despite some cruel acts including serious breaches of human rights in a junta, you hear people clamouring or praying for a Military Coup.
Due to our stupidity, it is reportedly that the subject History is no more taught in primary and secondary education levels. It is not news that the affected areas due to flooding from the River Volta, either caused by spillage of the Bagre Dam at the Upstream or spillage at the Akosombo Dam and Kpong Dam at the lower stream of River Volta.
The spillage hazards happened within the past 60years and the people have built resilience and experiences on the hazards of the flooding incidences from River Volta which due to its huge economic potentials should be regarded as a Gold Mine but it is a nightmare which should therefore tell people that the place is not a very safe place to reside in. The river was named by Portuguese Gold Miner due to its turning effect. Volta in Portuguese means meandering or turning. There must be something wrong with our Political Leaders. They cannot think far.
Mr Speaker, in view of the history of the hazards at the affected areas which may therefore be regarded as unsafe yet some of our compatriots agreed to reside at the areas normally affected during controlled spillage, so, please be thoughtful in your attempt to conduct the investigation into the Spillage at Akosombo Dam’s enclave under the VRA.
Evidential material suggested (to be indicated below) that the problem is not the fault of VRA but an exogenous one which required proper risk assessment on the hazards of flooding etc associated with the Gold Mine called River Volta, which God gave us among others to help us improve on the economy fundamentals of Ghana.
Please, as one of the Statesmen of Ghana, with very rich experiences in Politics of Ghana and with some good knowledge in Economics, you need to help some of the citizens especially Hon MPs to understand that Nkrumah’s Ghana before COVID19 pandemic is very different from Ghana after the COVID19 pandemic, hence we are in a New Ghana, so a new way of doing things from the old normal.
Mr Speaker, we cannot develop our country without being honest and gather the facts on issue for us to speak based on facts on the issues. Hence, investigating the problem(s) or the challenges of the Country for the causal effects and come out with solutions is the way to go in effective nation building. So, please let the whole nation see the National Disasters, namely the Economic Disaster as occasioned by internal factors and aggravated by exogenous factors or force majeure and the Environmental Disaster as occasioned by flooding/rains from the length of River Volta in general, may be due to an exogenous factor.
We need to see the disaster as a wakeup call to ensure how we can use the River Volta for public Good to solve both the economic disaster and the environmental disaster at the same time by changing the narrative of the Goggisburg economy through improving the economy fundamentals with power projects (hydroelectric power) and non-power projects (river transportation, irrigation farming in rice, maize, sugar cane etc, fishery projects in Tilapia, tourism etc).
The River Volta emanates from Bobo Diolaso and divides Burkina Faso and Ghana into almost two halves, which can be dubbed as Upper Volta (Upper Stream of Volta as Burkina Faso) and Lower Volta (Lower Stream of Volta as Ghana) respectively. The River empties into the Atlantic Ocean at Ada Foah. The River had its name from the Portuguese gold dealers due to the turning or meandering effect of the River and was found by colonialists to have various potential benefits including for hydroelectric power, Irrigation, lake Transportation, Fisheries, and Source of Drinking Water etc.
The idea of using a dam for generating power for the treatment of bauxite started in the colonial days with attempt to site the power station at Ajena with a Bauxite Refinery or Aluminum Smelter. This was later on changed by Kaiser the main American investors after feasibility studies and came out with the idea of construction of the Akosombo Dam which Dr Nkrumah had to accept the investment plan of the main investors for the start of the project.
The foreign investors from America to ensure their business interest, preferred the establishment of VALCO in Tema due Port to enjoy lower power cost for 30 years for smelting imported raw material especially Aluminum ingots from Alcoa and other American Companies. Thus Ghana should export the Bauxite at Takoradi port and through Tema port for the importation of the Aluminum ingots from Alcoa and others with the intention for a Reservoir at Kpong to take spillage from Akosombo as and when necessary.
Due to financial constraints or rather the American Investors not interested in non-power projects like Irrigation, fish farming, they caused VRA to be established as a single purpose vehicle for power project and this idea was accepted by the CCP regime of Dr Nkrumah in April 1961, for generation of hydroelectric power for industrialization, commercial business and domestic consumption, and for export to the sub region under Volta Development Act, that is Act 46 of Republic of Ghana to generate, transmit and distribute electricity.
The preparation for the Project started in 1963 and report had it that during the preparation for the construction in 1963 saw the first disaster caused by flooding which wiped out some of villages including the Sikor Community and killed some people. So Dr Nkrumah has to come out with a very quick resettlement plan and removed over 80,000 people and 723 villages and paved the way for the Construction process to continue. Some of the people accepted cash payment and relocated outside the catchment area and others were relocated to a number of villages and supported with building material to construct homes.
To generate additional power and to reduce further hazards of flooding from the Akosombo Dam/River Volta which resulted in the destruction of life and villages, Dr Nkrumah came out with a plan for the Kpong Hydroelectric power stations as a Reservoir at the lower stream to also receive spillage from Akosombo Dam. Dr Nkrumah also conceived the idea of the Bui Hydroelectric Power Station and the Pwalugu Multipurpose Hydroelectric Power and Irrigation Project.
The Akosombo Dam was completed in 1965. Several Spillages which affected some of the current affected areas took place since the completion of the Dam. Spillage from the Operation of the Akosombo Dam took place in 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974, and 1991. 1999, 2010. Not much of spillage between 1977 and 1991 due to Kpong reservoir which construction started in 1977 to 1982.
The Government and people of the Upper Volta also came out with the Bagre multipurpose hydroelectric power and irrigation Dam and completed the construction in 1992 and thus added to the calamity of flooding of the Northern Ghana when there was/ is spillage from this Dam and additional inflow into the Akosombo Dam, in addition to rainfalls within the catchment areas of Akosombo Dam as well at the upstream.
To kill more than two birds (power and irrigation projects) with one stone and to avoid disaster at both Akosombo Dam and the Lower stream, General Acheampong in 1977 caused the settlement of over 7,000 people at the Downstream of Akosombo and started the Construction of the Kpong Hydroelectric Power Station with Irrigation facility and as stated to serve as Emergency Dam of last resort in case of spillage of Water from Akosombo as and when necessary in order to reduce the extent of flooding. Kpong Dam was continued by the President Liman’s and completed by the PNDC in 1982 and handed over to the VRA.
VRA is a Statutory Independent Executive Body for the Managing/ generating hydroelectric Power at Akosombo Dam and the Kpong Hydroelectric power Station as well as Thermal Energy Plants belonging to the State, managing of the Volta Lake etc.
Our leaders of Ghana from the PNDC era then from 1993 to date through Parliament and the Executive Presidency, in the regimes of the Fourth Republic of Ghana NDC1, NDC2 under Papa J, NDC3 under President Mills and NDC4 under former President Mahama, then NPP1, NPP2 under former President Kofour, and NPP3 and NPP4 under President Nana Addo, slept on their jobs,
Our Political Leaders, slept on their jobs by not making good use of the River Volta at the Upstream of Akosombo or the Down Stream of the Bagre Dam for several Reservoirs say at Pwalugu, Savelegu etc for Multipurpose Projects/Dams for Power production and nonpower projects like river transportation, Irrigation for the production of Rice, Sugar, Cane for Fishery projects to help in import substitution in order to improve on the economy fundamentals of Ghana, creation of more jobs and also help address the perennial flooding in over four Regions at the Upstream of Akosombo or Downstream of Bagre Dam, which may help reduce spillage at Akosombo Dam by reducing the inflows through coordinated efforts.
Regimes in the Fourth Republic could not think far or effectively, so as to use the constitutionally mandated Economy Management Team dubbed as the National Development Planning Commission (Ministry of Economy Planning) as a vehicle for effective National Development based on comparative advantages of each Districts in Ghana.
Mr Speaker, due to the two different main global economic and political ideologies of Capitalism as practiced by Busia, Danquah/Dombo tradition and the Socialism with the originator in Ghana by CCP but now cocooned by NDC, was the reason that made the framers of the 1992 Constitution to cede the Economy Planning Wing from formerly Ministry of Finance and Economy Planning and established the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) at Article 86 of the 1992 Constitution.
Regimes in the Fourth Republic were/are expected to use common sense by application of the principles of comparative advantage as stated at Section (2) (b) at Article 87 of the Constitution to establish viable and cost effective projects in Ghana including projects at along parts of the upstream of River Volta or Downstream of the Bagre Dam like at Pwalugu and Savelegu for multipurpose projects to change the narrative of the bad state of the Economic Fundamentals of Ghana or the Goggisburg Economy of Gold Coast with the associated sickness or laziness of always depending on the ritual Cocoa Syndicated Loan (the robbing Peter to pay Paul syndrome) for macroeconomic and financial stability and inclusive growth.
Cry the Beloved the Country, the best thing, our leaders through our Hon Members of Parliament (the approving authority of all projects or national expenditures with their ‘yayee’ shouts and with you Mr Speaker with your acknowledgement of that the Yes or yayee Group have it) can do for Ghana is to punish us by saddling Ghana with a wasteful Komenda Sugar Production Series instead of the Savelegu Multipurpose project to include Sugar Production Series that could produce sufficient sugarcane for the Sugar Mill and Sugar Refinery and a judgment debt of 140million dollars from a planned thermal energy plant.
This judgment debt amount of 140 million dollars plus about 40million dollars that was used for the Komenda Sugar factory and an additional 70million dollars could have helped Ghana to start a multipurpose project bit by pit if no funds like the Pwalugu Dam for tomatoes production under Irrigation or to start the Multipurpose Project for power and irrigation for maize or rice or tomatoes/onion production or at Savelegu to include Sugar Production Series.
Mr Speaker, the Savelegu was found by a Brazilian Company through the Brazilian Company and the Government of Brazil was ready to finance with 240 million dollars in 2007 or an Algeria Company, or a Japanese Company in 2013 to have the potential for a yield of sugarcane of 78 metric tonnes per hectare, as against a very low yield of 10metric tonnes per hectare at Komenda. Sugarcane at Savelegu reportedly richer in brix quality content than Sugarcane at Komenda.
Furthermore, Komenda and her catchment areas do not have enough land to ensure effective sugarcane production within the 40 miles radius for the capacity of the installed Sugar Mill to ensure good quality sugarcane for a sugarcane Mill and for processing within 20hrs.
The old Sugar Mill which Dr Nkrumah diverted from Tsito within the Akosombo Dam enclave to Komenda to meet a political promise to local gin brewers, was smaller in milling capacity than the current installed plant and this smaller plant was not getting sufficient sugarcane as feed between 1977 and 1982 when the Ghana Sugar Estate, operators of the Komenda and other Sugar Factory until it became defunct in 1882. Savelegu on the other hand has adequate land which is near to the river Volta, reputedly with the potential of producing sugar cane with good brix content and a higher yield than in Sao Palo in Brazil, the leading producer of sugar in the world.
Savelegu therefore has over 7 times economic Comparative advantage better than Komenda for Sugar Production series. So, the Volta River which should be regarded as a gold mine from God is rather seen as a problem to Ghana, since it is causing a lot of havoc.
The Akosombo Dam at Akosombo and Lake Volta which stretched from Akosombo to Northern part of Ghana terminate at Yapei with a length of 250miles long, based on surface area, it is the largest man-made lake in the World.
The Dam is reportedly of 150 billion cubic metres of storage water capacity. Between 10 and 11 September 2023, only 30 million cubic metres of water in two dams in Libya wiped out about 30 percent of a city in Libya and thus said to be the second largest disaster in the World from a man-made Dam.
It is said that uncontrolled water will find its way. so, you can imagine the extent of national or sub region disaster what 150 billion cubic metres of storage water could have caused to Ghana and part of Togo, if VRA in 14 October 2023 had hesitated or wasted time in increasing the tempo of the spillage from 20,000 cubic feet per second started on 14 September 2023 and due to a sudden inflow of about 400,000 cubic feet per second into the Akosombo Dam, the tempo of spillage was changed to 183, 000 cubic feet per second on 14 October 2023 to reduce the water level to exactly or slightly below 278ft .
This this great amount of water of 150 billion cubic metres storage water capacity would have collapsed or wiped out the people and some assets in the whole of Accra, some parts of Eastern Region, parts of Volta Region and parts of Togo.
Hmm, in the Military 5 percent human casualty is allowed to save the greater good. Thanks to God no fatal human casualty reported as at date.
In 2005, as part of Power Sector Reform, VRA was made to restrict power generation with GRIDCO for transmission to ECG for Southern Sector and transmission to Northern Electricity Distribution Company as subsidiary of the VRA.
As part of the sloganeering of President Nana Addo regime, the President cut the sod for the Pwalugu a reservoir dubbed as a Multipurpose Dam Project in Nov 2019 for Sixty MW hydroelectric power and fifty MW solar plant at Kurugu and 25,000 hectares of arable land under irrigation scheme to produce 117,000 tonnes of rice and 49,000 tonnes of maize respectively and drinking water for people downstream at then at a cost of 993 Million Dollars to be under VRA. The Environmental and Social Impact Assessment was done in 2013 so Former President Mahama initiated the attempt for the construction of the Pwalugu Multipurpose Dam Project.
Mr Speaker, the situation at the lower Volta is a national problem that needs the urgent attention of Parliament to relook into the law on VRA, hence it is beyond VRA. Note VRA opened the same six floor gates for the flooding problem in November 2010 (regarded as the dry season) as against the same six floor gates number opened on 14 October 2023 (raining season with inflow of 400,000 cubic feet per second), so there is a vast difference between the situation in 2010 and the current extent spillage in October 2023 despite the start of spillage on 14 September 2023.
Sir, a proper study of the Data of VRA tells that in November 2010, VRA was very lucky for the spillage due at water level reportedly at 277.74 ft during the dry season of November 2010 and though no rains, six floodgates were opened in November 2010, within a week from an initial spillage which started on 01 November 2010 as against spillage with one floor gate allegedly started on 14 September 2023, but on 10 October 2023, as result of heavy rains etc which resulted in inflow of 400,000 cubic feet per second that prompted VRA to open the six gates and spilled 183,000 cubic feet per second on 10 October 2023 under rain fall.
So you may be right to say that the spillage problems in both November 2010 and September 2023 to October 2023 was due to exogenous factor maybe from Bagre Dam or Rains upstream but the situation of a sudden inflow of 400,000 cubic feet per second on 10 October 2023 was alarming or very serious that made the difference between the situation in 2010 and 2023. It was the unprecedented or alarming incident in 2010 that made VRA to come with the Emergency Preparedness Plan, implying improvement of crisis management started in 2010 by VRA.
So as President Obama told us that we should support and let Institutions work and subject them to scrutiny or interrogation, so the planned investigation is good but let it have a national touch thus to cover the whole length of the River Volta for a lasting solutions. Thanks to God, like what it was alleged made by you in Yendi, two Northern Brothers are going to compete for the Presidential slot in 2024, God’s making to get someone to initiate policies for the improvement of the economy fundamentals of Ghana through the vehicle of River Volta for massive production of rice, sugarcane etc as being done at Bui Dam.
So, Mr Speaker, once again let me stress that the idea of the investigation into the spillage is a very good one but please to arrest the problem permanently (for appropriate remedial actions) open up the investigation to cover the state of affairs within the whole of River Volta up to the Bagre Dam. Please do by asking for proper risk assessment to include use of Agricultural projects to ensure we resolve the ritual National Economic crisis and the associated IMF bailout solution with no massive production as remedial action and not the robbing Peter to pay Paul syndrome
This robbing Peter to rob Paul is always with the ritual cyclical cocoa syndicated loan to bolster or to strengthen the value of the Ghanaian Cedis every year and a total National Environmental Disaster throughout the length and breadth of River Volta, with at least five bigger Dams one in Upper Region at Pwalugu, one at Savelegu in the North East, one at Oti Region and one in Volta Region upstream of Akosombo Dam and maybe the origin dam at Ajena in the Eastern Region.
A proper investigation may help Parliament under your Leadership to expand the scope of operations of VRA, as the name implies from a mono purpose project of power generation to a multipurpose vehicle to also take care of irrigation, fisheries, power, transportation, tourism/hotels etc along the Volta River for national development as well as to reduce the flooding hazards which generate into a disaster sometimes. Thus see the reorganization of Volta River Authority as to include non-energy or nonpower projects with River Volta otherwise by changing the current status or name of VRA to Ghana Energy Generating Authority or Ghana Power Generating Authority to make it remain as a mono purpose energy or power project.
Mr Speaker, it is better to pass a law to make VRA as the name implies as multipurpose projects Authority. So that VRA will deal with matters along the River Volta including settlements along the River Volta up to Ada Foah and thus include Akosombo and Kpong enclaves.
Mr Speaker, let me sum up by saying that you acted in a rash manner or wrongly with the statement that VRA carried out the spillage without a well thought through security and safety preparedness. By this utterances, it meant you have already apportioned blame without an investigation into the incident for a report to you as the Convening Authority for the way forward.
Mr Speaker, your action could lead to people lynching the good names of VRA personnel or unwarranted demo against VRA. It must be noted that the people have coexisted with VRA since 1980 and were/are aware of the risks at the area but still remained at the area and so they have adopted a system of resilience or survival whenever there was a spillage in the past.
Mr Speaker, it is too early to say VRA to relocate or resettle affected persons. The best VRA could do now till we get the report on a good investigation to decide the way forward is let the traditions or practices between VRA and her Communities maintained but with some human face.
It is very sad I feel their pains but this is the truth and that’s why Parliament established NADMO in 1997 to deal with Disasters, so MPs must wake up and revisit both laws of VRA and NADMO and fine tune them especially a Declaration of a State of Disaster and not the Declaration of State of Emergency.
In the meantime, let us be very careful with our utterances because Akosombo Dam was there before the settlements and some of the settlers who were resettled came back to some of the affected areas of likely spillage, after they were removed since the alleged tragedy in1963 in which the flood wiped out a number of villages and thousands of people lost their lives and no compensation paid by the State but only relocation of 80,000 people/723 villages. Let us investigate because it is possible that some of the areas were due to flood from water from elsewhere or the Rains and not from the Spillage, so we need for an investigation for the state of affairs is a must do.
VRA reportedly gave early Warning by letters or radio announcement and press releases by VRA about the planned spillage, during the spillage to the affected persons as well as the stimulation exercises done in May 2023 before the spillage which started on 14 September 2023 per data.
A good job will also require a study of available data from VRA, the Internet, from Meteorological Department, from relevant stakeholders, the situation for the past 14 years up to 2009, among others.
Mr Speaker, the Terms of Reference of the investigation to include following among others, What are the Standard Operational Procedures on relevant issues on security and safety at VRA with regards to Managing Spillage?. Crisis Management Plan and the state of the Emergency Preparedness Plan? What contributed to or what were the circumstances that led to or surrounding the spillage?
Did NADMO demo the capacity to deal with the Disaster? If not why so, (Please note, President Obama asked us to always allow Institutions to work, so NADMO and VRA are Statutory Executive Bodies of the Executive Arm of Government for power generation and disaster prevention/management of disaster etc respectively, so the citizen must be educated that the Government was well represented by the relevant Institutions. President Obama educated us that we should always let State Institutions to do their work.
It must be noted that the VRA law might have restricted the incident to be under the realms of VRA until it is beyond the scope of VRA or may because VRA has the financial muscle or a budget line against spillage to deal with issues of security and safety within VRA ‘s catchment areas or enclave. So, the incident was under the control and management or within the realm of VRA with NADMO in subordinate position due to poor resources or leadership problem.
There must be law to indicate when NADMO can take over, how support should be provided by host Company a to NADMO and law the law to give power to NADMO to make a Declaration of State of Disaster and make request for both internal and external support through agreed protocols. So a law to indicate when NADMO can take as lead or the champion of the risk or to seize control of a Disaster including at the Mining Companies, Factories /VRA etc.
So, who or which Agency was really in charge of the disaster and why so? Where the people at the Catchment area or enclaves given warning and if so when, by whom, was it sufficient, the timings or frequency? What was the type and extent of the spillage or hazard?
Did the hazard culminate into a disaster and why so, and was it possible to prevent it? If no why so? Note there is a vast difference between hazard and Disaster, spillage is just a risk or venture which is a drill at Dams by Standard Operation Procedure and falls within the first (low Risk) Second phases (medium Risk) of an Emergency Preparedness Plan. Disaster may be phase 3 (High or Red Risk level) of crisis management and may require take over by or transfer to NADMO depending on the scale of the Disaster.
What was there an Emergency Preparedness Plan and was it proclaimed to the relevant stakeholders? Whether the extent of the damages by the spillage could have been avoided, if so by which way? if yes who is blamable and to what extent exactly? .Is there tenancy agreement with the settlers at the danger zones, if yes did it speak of compensation and to what extent and by who or which Agency?
What are remedial actions? Need for effective coordination between relevant Institutions to ensure Good and timely data on climatic conditions, acquisition of state of the art equipment. These may also include dams at the upstream, community living downstream need to be involved in disaster preparedness plans
Other measures include regular drills and education on evacuation plan procedures, rehearsals/ simulation exercises, training on flood safety measure, need for the availability of a reasonable number of safety equipment (boats, wellington boots, safety vests, Stream light, torchlight), affected person to be trained and equipped to handle emergencies, early warn by Simple Emergency number, Groupings under leaders up to named 4ICs of the Group, system for communication through application of digitization and digitalization frameworks.
According to VRA, Spillage is done as and when necessary but mostly from September to November the time the state of affairs will be clear to the team. In October 2010 the water level was 274.48ft whilst the maximum in is 278ft and gradual spillage was done in 2010 until it suddenly reached 277.4 on 08 November 2010, so VRA was forced to open all the six floodgates causing similar serious flood in a number of communities downstream, it was done in November 2010 during the dry season or no rains.
According to VRA’s data in the internet, in May 2023 prior to the spillage, the VRA organized stimulation exercise dubbed WO HO SO 2023 to test it Emergency Preparedness Plan and to ensure all Stakeholders were prepared for any incidence of flooding to test the resilience of the affected persons and effectiveness of the EPP. Participated stakeholders came from Greater Accra, Ada East, North Tongu, District, Asuogyaman and Volta Region.
The report indicated that through the sensitization program or the public awareness, affected persons were warned about the planned spillage and briefed on the progress of spillage. That the Awomefia was happy with the briefing. At the briefing, the DCEs and NADMO, Official observed that the sensitization which was carried out on the potential impact of the spillage and subsequent preparedness of the communities has been effective.
VRA has photos of interactions with Local leaders and their people, and press release dated by the Corporate Affairs and External Relations Unit, include one which indicated a further warning was issued to people to move to high ground or Assembly points to ensure their own safety,
After the warning exercise, spillage started on 15 September 2023, when the level of water was 272.5feet with speed of 10,000 to 20,000 cubic feet per second. The danger was detected on 12 October 2023 with water level at 276.92 feet due to water inflow of the speed of 400,000 cubic feet per second VRA was forced to open all the six spillage gates were opened with the speed of spillage increased to 183, 000 cubic feet per second.