INDISCIPLINE & CORRUPTION ARE CAUSES OF FLOODING -VODEC
As part of our civic social responsibilities, patriotism and public engagement strategy to PREVENT FLOODING FROM CAUSING HAVOC, Voice Of Developing Communities (VODEC), a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), would organize a workshop on Friday July 12th, 2013 at the Ga West Municipal Assembly Hall, in the Greater Accra Region in Collaboration with the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to raise awareness and educate Ghanaians on the need for them to see flooding as a threat to human life and properties.
The Forum which involves the Ten (10) Senior High Schools in the Municipality with ten representatives from each school will see flooding as a natural event that can have far reaching effects on people and the environment.
Once again, torrential rains have hit the Accra metropolis, creating heavy floods in various parts that have caused great havoc to lives and properties.
Right now there are scenes of collapsed buildings and fence walls, damaged roads, falling electricity and telephone poles with mangled wires, choked drains, gutters and culverts and ramshackle structures, all staring us in the face.
Homes and shops are filled with soaked products, materials and personal effects. Floods can distribute large amounts of water and suspended sediment over vast areas, restocking valuable soil nutrients to agricultural lands. In contrast, soil can be eroded by large amounts of fast flowing water, ruining crops, destroying agricultural land, buildings and drowning farm animals.
For example, some years back, Accra was devasted by floods resulting in many losses of lives and properties caused by residents who dumped fridges waiting for the rains to carry it away. Bits and pieces of the damage still exist.
It therefore means that the flooding in Accra is a perennial problem which is well known and it is expected to happen during the rainy season except that its effect varies with the amount of rainfall.
Communication, education and public awareness plays central role in the implementation of these programmes, focusing on attitudinal and perceptional change towards waste management, sustainable use and equitable sharing calls for social change. It is generally hoped that the end result of this programme is to achieve the overall goals, which was set as to champion the course of development in deprived communities through Youth Empowerment across Ghana, to advocate, unite and showcase the commitment of all youth organizations and harmonize their efforts in development, to unite our efforts in protecting the interest of our communities and to promote a culture of human rights and civic responsibilities in Ghana.
Usually, in the event of the flood disasters, the authorities go on inspection tours of affected areas to assess the extent of damage and make promises to address the situation.
In the same way, relevant agencies, organizations and institutions hold workshops and seminars whereby the causes of flooding are identified and recommendations made to that effect.
The same thing is happening in the current episode. Clearly, the problem of flooding in Accra cannot be attributed to the natural cause of excessive downpour of rain alone.
The highest amount recorded by the Ghana Metrological Service in the present season is 313.8 millimeters which under normal circumstances cannot cause destructive damage.
Rather the floods are caused by human activities of indiscipline, corruption and negligence as well as lack of adequate and effective drainage structures to take care of the flood waters.
Indiscriminate disposal of refuse has led to the choking of drains, gutters and culverts.
The existing drainage systems are therefore too narrow to contain the flood waters.
Houses are built on waterways because of illegal Building permit issued by Building Operating Officers blocking the flow of rain water, while poor town planning policies and programmes also contribute to the problem.
Over the years too, studies have been undertaken to tackle the drainage problem in Accra.
These include the NEDECO Overall Drainage Master Studies covering central Accra (1963), Mott McDonald Studies for the newly developed areas of Accra (1991), SNC Lavalin Preliminary Engineering and Detailed Design Study (1997) and the Carl Bro Design for the construction of a Retention Dyke at Kisseman (1998).
Reports, studies and recommendations are all there in the archives, drawers and cabinets in the offices. What is needed is only the effort to implement them.
In this regard, it is encouraging to note that an inter-ministerial task force has been formed to identify and demolish buildings and illegal structures located in water courses.
From the survey conducted by VODEC, a lot of buildings need to be pulled down, but will the demolishing exercise be allowed to go on, considering the past experience?
After the flood disaster in August 2007, a number of houses were marked for demolition by NADMO. But the owners sought a court injunction to stop the exercise and that was the end of it.
Besides the task force, an engineering body should be set up to plan and undertake a comprehensive drainage scheme for Accra, expanding the existing drainage structures and constructing additional ones that conform to high quality engineering standards to cope with increasing volume of rain water.
To enhance its performance, it should have the mandate to co-ordinate the activities of agencies involved in the planning, design and execution of construction works in the city such as the road contractors, real estate developers, utility companies and AMA public works departments.
It will baffle any observer to know the number of passenger buses that travel from other regions and enter the national capital a day all coming either to solve a problem at their national headquarters, looking for job, going for check ups in the hospitals, going to school and what have you, which might be solved in the regional and even district levels.
Left to VODEC alone we will say the solution does not lie in demolishing the houses but also look at the best way to decentralized government structures to empower the regions to create more jobs for the people to cut off the migration to the national capital that create accommodation problems for developers to solve by building anywhere for their money only to serve as death traps for people anytime the rains fall.
Voice Of Developing Communities wants the Meteorological Services Department to aid many of our development efforts, such as the Aviation and Maritime industries, to help solve the problem, by Government retooling the Ghana Meteorological Agency, to carry it's mandate of predicting the weather correctly, and with the past experience and available data, the authorities are expected to appropriate measures to solve the flooding problem in Ghana once and for all.
Ishmeal Nii Brown Lartey