Today, as Ghana marks the fourth anniversary of the unfortunate June 3 disaster which claimed over 150 lives in Accra, the shattering scenes of that disaster echo strongly in the mind.
It was an occurrence that reduced human lives to nothingness and questioned our senses of responsibility and readiness to face emergencies.
When the inferno erupted on the flood waters on which was spilled fuel from a filling station, that part of Accra in the neighbourhood of the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange set itself ablaze on a scale that can only be imagined.
The gory images of helpless people, many of whom had been trapped in vehicles in the middle of the hellish fire, may have faded somehow, but the trauma could linger longer with victims, survivors and families who lived it.
On the occasion of the remembrance of the day, we are touched by the plight of one of the victims, Kassim Suraj, who told the Daily Graphic that he remained hospitalised four years after that fatal fire accident.
While his condition – and perhaps that of many other survivors of the incident – is regrettable, we are even more saddened by the collective irresponsibility of society which continues to pose different threats to lives and properties.
The then ongoing construction works at the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange which were partly blamed for the floods have long been completed, yet flooding is now a common feature of the area when it rains for even an hour.
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Many other neighbourhoods of Accra and its suburbs have become too sensitive to the slightest rainfall and the pools from the virtual drizzles have become normal scenes in the capital today.
What it means is that, collectively, we failed to pick up lessons from the disaster and appear indifferent to the dangers that confront us as a people. And if the scars don’t scare us into corrective behaviours, what else will?
The indiscriminate disposal of particularly plastic waste into drains has exposed the system to the kind of emergencies that have come to define the lives of the average person at our dwelling places.
As Mr Suraj laments, his continued hospitalisation has depleted his resources and left him virtually cashless. This is why we think the intended disbursement of funds accruing from donations to victims of the accident is long overdue.
Given the gravity of the disaster, many surviving victims could still be rendered incapacitated, meaning they would not be able to function effectively in any economic enterprise. It also means the source of sustenance for their families, if they were the breadwinners, would be curtailed and many prospects left in shambles.
The announcement by the Ministry of the Interior that it is now ready to disburse the funds to victims and families of victims is, at least, better late than never.
We wish to entreat the relevant authorities to speed up the processes to ensure that victims receive some form of ‘justice’ for their misfortune, even though we acknowledge that no amount of money can adequately compensate for the pain suffered by the individuals and their families.
As the rains persist in the season, it is incumbent on the authorities to enforce the necessary actions that will secure lives and properties.
But the average citizen owes it a duty to himself to protect the environment from destruction and the attendant consequences of careless living.
That disaster of four years ago should never be recorded in our lives again!