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04.06.2007 Disaster

The Floods Again

It is unfortunate that the planning of Accra and its environs was unable to contain the three days of rains, thereby claiming casualties.

The death of five people in the wake of the rains poses a big question: How ready are we to handle floods?

We should not pretend that we do not know the causes of some of these floods.

Weak enforcement of planning and building regulations, choked gutters and building in waterways are some of the causes.

Clearing choked gutters should not pose much of a problem for local authorities, if they want to. The greatest problem is the enforcement of building regulations in areas where we should not build.

The worrying and disturbing aspect has to do with building in critical waterways. Information has it that there is such property in an area called Palas Town, near Anyaa.

Surely, there are many of such property wrongly sited in parts of Accra. Are the property owners bigger than public interest? It is a question that is crying for an answer.

It is important that all those who collaborated for such property to be constructed are brought to book. Such a move will underline the determination to kill indiscipline in our society.

Many are those who tend to blame the British for not bequeathing to us the legacy that neighbouring French-speaking countries had from Metropolitan France. Why? Authorities in those countries do not countenance any citizen who wants to mess up laid-down plans.

We are by no means suggesting they are angels but they demonstrate amply that they would not allow anybody to ride roughshod over others.

Information has it that many unauthorised structures such as kiosks were swept away by the rains to Mallam Junction, where they obstructed movement.

Reports say the area was virtually submerged and it took contingents of military police and officials of the the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) several hours to save the situation.

Ironically, Ga West Town Planning has offices close to the area. Is it that some people must have compromised in enforcement?

The time has come for us to sit up and make the conscious effort to do the right thing. Besides, in all that we do, we must consider public interest, instead of being parochial in our focus.

Property developers must also ensure that they do not acquire plots in swampy areas, which they cannot bring to a level that is good for development.

We cannot gloss over the indiscriminate dumping of refuse because it is a contributory factor to flooding.

We may ask what has happened to the proposal which the incumbent Information and National Orientation Minister, Mr Kwamena Bartels, made when he was at the Works and Housing Ministry: Demolish property in water-ways?

We empathise with the bereaved families of the five victims and it is our prayer that the problem will be critically examined and a lasting solution found.