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28.04.2008 Disaster

ACCRA RAINS CHAOS

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Yesterday’s storm in Accra, with flooding and attendant traffic chaos in some places, despite it being a Sunday morning, underscored yet again the gravity of the capital city’s drainage problem.

Last Thursday we devoted our back page to the problems that beset the capital when there are rainstorms.

Today, too, we are compelled to focus again on rain and flooding in the capital because it appears that although over the years much effort has gone into trying to solve the drainage problem, much still remains to be done.

The situation is such that now when the rain clouds gather, it is not only people in low- lying areas of Accra who become apprehensive, but also practically anybody who has to use the roads.

For, it seems that no sooner does it start raining than most of Accra’s streets flood and in no time at all flood waters are at least knee-high in many places.

At some locations so fierce is the current of the flood waters, that neighbourhood young men make a living charging pedestrians a fee to carry them piggyback to cross the street.

It also means that cars with a low clearance have trouble manouvering their way through, with some engines going dead and hampering traffic flow.

Some of the flood-prone areas that easily come to mind are the Hansonic Junction leading to Dansoman Estate and First Light on the Kaneshie-Odorkor road, not to mention the Kwame Nkrumah Circle itself.

The problem of rubbish-choked gutters has long been identified as a principal cause of the city flooding. However, there are also places where the problem is evidently not gutters but rather because they are low-lying.

One wonders what is being done to ensure a sustainable solution to the recurrent flooding of the capital city’s streets.

Part of the difficulty seems to be that initiatives by successive administrations over the years to solve the flooding are hardly ever sustained.

This includes the inability to carry out threats to pull down illegally sited structures which block the flow of rain water; and cessation of such exercises after the first few houses are pulled down.

Thus it is that the problems persist, leaving many city dwellers and vehicles marooned wherever a rainstorm finds them.

But, at least, the known flood-prone areas could be tackled.

It can be imagined that funding shortages are also part of the reason for the inability to solve the problem; and sometimes political considerations also interfere with plans.

But for how long should the annual flooding continue to put lives and property at risk?

Besides, by its status as the capital city, Accra should have put the flooding and attendant rain chaos behind it long ago.

We call on the Ministry of Local Government and the Accra Metropolitan Assembly to find the resources as well as the political will to solve the Accra flooding once and for all.

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