25.03.2004 Regional News

"Don't Build Along Waterways" - Upper East Minister Cautions Residents.

25.03.2004 LISTEN

Bolgatanga, March 24, GNA - Mr. Mahami Salifu, Upper East Regional Minister, on Monday called for closer collaboration between the Department of Town and Country Planning and the various Municipal/District Assemblies in the region to halt the construction of houses along waterways.

He further urged the relevant development authorities to desist from giving approval to plans for the building of houses in water courses, considering the potential harm such practices could cause. Addressing a cross-section of the public, including school children and workers at the Abilba Primary/JSS school park in Bolgatanga to commemorate World Water Day, Mr. Salifu observed that putting up houses in flood-prone areas had become a common phenomenon not only in the Bolgatanga metropolis but other parts of the region as well.

He said waste products from such badly sited houses often obstruct- natural waterways, causing water in motion to change its course and take to unauthorized areas resulting in flooding and loss of lives and property.

The Regional Minister further cautioned the people against unfriendly practices such as swimming and defecating into water bodies like the Vea Dam which is the main source of domestic water supply for the Bolgatanga Municipality and its surrounding areas.

"Increasing the pollution load directly affects water treatment costs and sometimes compels Government to consider adjusting water tariffs against the wishes of most Ghanaians," he said.

Mr. Salifu observed that as the world's population continues to increase, there is bound to be an ever-increasing strain on water supply, and that since by its nature water does not recognize national or regional boundaries, there is the need for a concerted action at both governmental and community levels to avert possible conflicts arising out of water use.

Touching on the theme of this year's celebration "Water and Disasters," the Regional Manager of Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), Mr. Daniel Gyamah Muomaalah, said statistics have indicated that 65 per cent of losses suffered and nearly 90 per cent of deaths, all estimated at about 40 billion dollars per year were incurred from water-related disasters during the past decade.

"Such disasters disrupt national economies, and are recognized as major impediments to sustainable development and poverty reduction," he said, urging a shift from the present disasters management approach to the adoption of preventive and proactive strategies to reduce the vulnerability of local communities to floods and other natural disasters.

In a speech read for on his behalf, the Regional Director of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), Mr Anderson Anaphor Nabia, recalled the devastating floods in the Northern and Upper East Regions in 1999, which he attributed to both natural and man-made causes, and the hardships they visited on people in the affected areas. The NADMO Director called on the people of Sawaba, a suburb of the Bolgatanga township built in a flood-prone valley, to be mindful of the dangers inherent in their continuous residence in the area and to take prudent steps to avert an imminent disaster.