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26.04.2008 Editorial

Danger Signals

By Daily Guide
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The Meteorological Services Agency has not faltered in its duty of informing us about weather forecasts, an important statutory obligation bestowed on it by law.

This year's forecast is already in the public domain, but like other issues bordering on scientific prediction, it has been confined to newspaper cuttings with nobody in authority doing anything to avert flooding or putting up contingency arrangements to contain it when it strikes.

For many years now, people especially those living in low-lying areas of Accra shudder at the approaching rainy season.

Indeed some manage to transfer their valuables to relatives and friends so that these are not swept away by the deluge.

This year is no exception especially when viewed against the nasty situation of last year which saw many households losing valuable property including even loss of lives.

There was a massive public outcry about the loss of property when a similar scenario was enacted by the elements last year with relevant authorities like the AMA, NADMO and others scampering all over the place screaming warnings about what action would be taken to ensure there is no recurrence.

We cannot stop acts of nature but there are measures we can adopt to reduce to the barest minimum repercussions of such force majeure.

We must be able to enforce bylaws on construction and be able to demolish structures when they are located on waterways.

So far we have been unable to do so and the fault lies on both the authorities and the residents themselves. The latter easily condemn actions taken to ensure that the right things are done as politics sometimes sets in. In the process, defaulting landlords are left off the hook, as disaster is awaited.

Here we are again, at the threshold of another rainy season and there is no doubt that there could be deluges.

Are we prepared? What measures have we put in place to contain possible disasters in the likely event of their breaking out?

It does not appear that we have done anything since Accra last witnessed major floods in her low-lying areas.

We have witnessed a few downpours this year, and though they have not been relatively intense, the signs are that the worse could be unfolded by the elements.

The Kwame Nkrumah Circle area, Kaneshie First Light and the several low-lying new suburbs of Accra are still flood-prone.

It beats our imagination that nothing has still been done to change the engineering layout of some of these areas so that when the rains are here we would not have to repeat similar write-ups.

The situation this year could be worse because of the rather terrible waste management crisis facing the nation's capital.

For about a month now, the city's waste management has not been in the best of shapes.

In some areas the garbage has taken portions of busy streets, emitting offensive and sickening smells.

There are households which have had to keep domestic garbage for close to a month because the nearby collection points are overflowing with refuse.

In the event of even the minimal of downpours many residents turn to the gutters as dumping spots for their domestic garbage.

Such garbage is moved by the currents towards the Circle area where their sheer volume and mix choke the drainage.

It is this development which contributes to the flooding in Circle which is the confluence of most of the gutters in such areas as Nima, Newtown, the Onyasia River and many others.

There is no erring when we state that the bad garbage management system which the city has experienced these past few weeks, coupled with bad practices of residents will aggravate an already bad situation when the rains finally arrive towards the end of May or so.

Even though we wonder whether anything can be done at this time of the year when the rainy season is beckoning, suffice it to state that the little efforts that we can bring to bear on mitigating the effects of flooding must be considered as a matter of exigency.

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