We must not stand aloof as floods kill us

BY: Daily Graphic
We must not stand aloof as floods kill us
We must not stand aloof as floods kill us

Floods are one of nature’s occurrences that are also caused by man’s actions and inaction against the environment, meaning we can stem the tide against floods if we put in the right mechanisms.

Floods are not new to Ghanaians, since the country has been inundated by flash floods during heavy rains.

The intriguing fact is that the country’s cities are not crisscrossed by so many water bodies such as pertains in certain parts of Europe, yet at the slightest rainfall, all the streets are flooded and people living in low-lying areas have to flee for shelter on higher ground.

Debates on how best to prevent flooding in the country have been raging, especially since the June 3, 2015 floods and fire disaster that claimed over 150 lives, yet we seem to be hapless and helpless whenever the rains set in.

Once again the rainy season is here and with it the concomitant floods we have become used to; only that we cannot get used to the loss of lives whenever water takes over and submerges our cities and towns.

Reports from Kumasi where five girls were swept away from their residence by floodwaters at Asabi in the Asokore Mampong Municipality after a downpour led to the Sissa River overflowing its banks last Thursday, indicate that the death toll has risen to 15.

This is not welcome news and we only pray that it does not get worse in the coming days. However, we cannot only rely on prayer and wish that all turns out well.

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Most city authorities are aware of some of the causes of the preventable floods that include building on watercourses, poor sanitation and the dumping of refuse into drains meant for water, building in wetlands meant for run-off water during heavy rains, poorly engineered roads and the construction of drains not big enough to contain excess water.

We need to take the bull by the horns by enforcing building regulations and preventing any construction works along the buffer zones of our water bodies. Otherwise when they burst their banks, there will always be chaos and loss of lives.

Both building inspectors and any persons found to have circumvented due processes to build in unauthorised places must be surcharged with any cost of demolition in the event that buildings are found to have been sited in places which can potentially cause danger to the larger community.

Perhaps the inability of authorities to properly demarcate their areas of jurisdiction and make the same known to residents accounts for people building and developing the land haphazardly to the detriment of whole communities.

The Daily Graphic believes that it is time for all metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) to submit the plans of all communities in their jurisdictions for vetting and approval by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to forestall the annual ritual of floods in the country.

Accra, the capital, is still grappling with floods and the second largest city in the country, Kumasi, has joined in the fray. No one knows when other cities will follow suit due to improper planning and sooner or later the entire country will be submerged in water.

We must be more proactive than we are today to stop the floods once and for all.