EDITORIAL: Save Odaw River Now
The Odaw River provides opportunities for the promotion of many business activities in the area of tourism and tourism development.
It used to be a source of fishing for residents of Adabraka some decades ago but various human activities have destroyed aquatic life in the river.
These human activities have adversely affected business life in the South Industrial Area and at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, while a good number of people have lost property as a result of the heavy flooding from major rains in Accra.
Following the February 2011 rains, the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) recommended urgent measures to be taken to allow for the free flow of water in the Odaw River into the Korle Lagoon to prevent a recurrence.
Unfortunately, that recommendation went unheeded and a similar, if not more catastrophic, flooding repeated itself in November last year.
President John Evans Atta Mills, after touring the flooded areas, gave the city authorities the green light to remove all structures impeding the smooth flow of water in the Odaw River to the Korle Lagoon. Although the authorities undertook some exercises to remove the unauthorised structures, the action was not far-reaching enough to prevent flooding in future.
All over the world, well-maintained water bodies offer tourism opportunities and recreational activities for people. We on this side of the globe seem not to appreciate what value we can derive from a beautiful God-given asset as the Odaw River.
Attempts have been made by several governments towards what is supposed to be the Korle Lagoon Restoration Project with the view to making the river one of the best tourist and recreational destinations in the world.
Regrettably, we seem not to be making any headway in that regard as a result of the recalcitrance of Ghanaians and the failure of the authorities to eject illegal persons staying along the river, particularly those at Sodom and Gomorrah.
Besides those at Sodom and Gomorrah, the stretch from the Odaw River right from Caprice through the Neoplan Lorry Station to the Korle Lagoon, scrap dealers, traders, mechanics and squatters have taken abode on the banks of the river, compounding the woes of the heavily choked river. These illegal neighbours of the river find refuge in the river to dump their refuse and to answer the call of nature.
We have, on countless occasions, raised concerns over the activities of these illegal dwellers and the danger posed to the river by their activities.
With the rainy season approaching, we wonder what will befall not only the enterprises but also the illegal dwellers along that stretch. This is because the river is even more silted than ever before by the ongoing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project.
We can foretell a major disaster in the national capital when the rains set in anytime soon.
The Daily Graphic does not see how any major desilting exercise can take place between now and June when the rains set in. However, we believe the country will have a lot more to gain if the illegal structures and dwellers along the banks of the river are removed. So must we also take urgent steps to halt the flourishing but illegal trading along the same stretch.
We believe the support secured by the President during his ongoing visit to the United States for the Accra drains project will allay the fears of residents of a future deluge.
We must all put aside our political shades and human rights sentiments to find a lasting solution to this recurring national disaster.