Based on what meteorologists are saying, there is likely to be unprecedented rains this season; and as a consequence, many parts of the city of Accra will again be flooded. Works and Housing Minister Samuel Atta Akyea toured some parts of the capital to inspect drains ahead of the rains, accompanied by some journalists.
The drainage and sewage system in parts of the city is poorly constructed; and coupled with the indiscriminate disposal of waste in these open gutters that chokes them, there are resultant floods when the rains come down hard.
The minister briefed the media and said Cabinet has approved a comprehensive project to deal with flooding. The World Bank, he said, has agreed to support the project with a loan facility of US$100million to deal comprehensively with poor engineering in the construction of drains and sewage.
Each year huge sums of money are expended to de-silt most drains in the city, and this has not eliminated or even reduced the floods – though it ameliorates the damage somewhat. Therefore, to really tackle the perennial floods there really needs to be some structural changes in the manner drains and sewage systems are constructed; that explains the decision by Cabinet to tackle the problem head-on.
However, even before that takes off, government has made available about US$17million for interim interventions to minimise the impact of floods this year. When the Odwana drain was under construction, the hope was that it would reduce the extreme flooding that usually occurs during the rainy season – but lo and behold, we still experience flooding in areas around Odwana because people are fond of throwing all manner of waste products in the drain.
Each year it is dredged to prevent it overflowing its banks, but we still have not managed to stop flooding. The country was shaken a few years ago when the floods resulted in a catastrophic incident after fuel from a nearby petrol station mixed with the floodwater – setting off one of the worst disasters ever seen in Accra.
Ever since that incident, Ghanaians have been urging the authorities to deal with the issue of perennial flooding in a holistic manner. It is hoped that the project approved by Cabinet will permanently settle the flooding issue once and for all.
The prospect of facing another period of floods causes many homes to live in fearful suspense.