The warning by the Ghana Geological Survey Authority (GGSA) of an imminent earthquake in the country is worrying, not just because of the event but also the
sad reality that the country is not prepared for major disasters such as earthquaks.So far, Ghana has been lucky that since 1939 it has not experienced any major earthquake. The closest we have come are earth tremors in parts of the country.
Ironically, there is no behaviourial change on the part of citizens or policy reforms to make the people comply with practices that will ameliorate the effects of earthquakes if they occur.
According to the GGSA, recent earth tremors that hit parts of Accra indicated that the fault lines were active and could cause earthquakes at any time. An active fault line means there is a break or fracture in the ground as a result of some of the layers of the earth’s crust moving or shifting. These are the preconditions for earthquakes.
For a long time the Kasoa, Nyanyano, Weija and Gbawe areas have been identified as earthquake-prone areas. In recent, times, these areas have been experiencing a lot of real estate development and quarrying activities that further exacerbate the already portentous situation.
Developers are going about their activities with careless abandon, the regulatory bodies and agencies are sitting aloof, while some unscrupulous individuals are not helping matters by taking advantage of the loopholes to enrich themselves.
The greatest concern for the Daily Graphic is that no country, no matter how advanced, has control over natural disasters occasioned by what insurance people term “acts of God”. However, the difference between advanced countries and developing nations is the preparedness of the former.
America, for instance, is home to some of the world’s worst cyclones, hurricanes, wild fires and extreme winter weather, just as is the case for Europe. Japan is seriously prone to earthquakes and typhoons, as are other Asian countries. The difference in these countries is the efficient response systems they have in place.
Ghana has a poor healthcare delivery system and a poor disaster response system. We are all witnesses to how major disasters are handled in the country. It was really disastrous dealing with the June 3, 2015 disaster that hit Accra.
Perennial flooding is still with us, without any solution in sight. Our tourist sites are not safe places, as patrons are at the mercy of the weather and the protection of God. The Accra Stadium disaster of 2001, which claimed more than 100 lives, triggered the setting up of the National Ambulance Service. But its operations, for now, leave much to be desired.
We want to urge the government and the various agencies and regulatory bodies responsible for emergency responses to think through the needs of the country properly and begin to take the requisite steps to put robust systems in place. It is not enough to always wait for the government for resources.
It is worthy of note that people are appointed for their competence to solve challenges to make society better to live in. It is time for our leaders in the various agencies to think outside the box to put in place full-proof systems to manage disasters in the country.
Meanwhile, the government should also resource the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) to make it ready, competent and efficient in handling disasters whenever and wherever they occur across the country. NADMO and the Ambulance Service, for instance, should not be depending on only charity to do their work.
We may not be able to avoid disasters, but we can prevent or minimise the consequences and the ripple effect on our people and the economy.