Why Accra may not be rain ready

BY: Kwame Asare Boadu
Desilting of the Odaw River starts at a slow pace
Desilting of the Odaw River starts at a slow pace

Accra is undoubtedly the economic powerhouse of the country, but unfortunately it continues to pay the heavy price of haphazard planning and indiscipline that have combined to cause flooding in the city every year.

In the real sense, when it rains, people are expected to show gratitude to God because of the many advantages that come with it.

But this is not so for some residents of Accra who tremble anytime the clouds gather in the skies. Indeed, these people see rainfall as a curse.

The national capital and flooding are bedfellows, and many have suffered from it; lives and property have been lost and the scourge of diseases, particularly cholera, that come with the rains has not spared others either.

On February 13 this year, parts of Accra were flooded following an hour’s downpour, giving signs of things to come.

 Many questioned whether the national capital was bracing itself to contain the anticipated downpour this year.


Residents are used to the long talk and unfulfilled promises by the authorities to tackle the canker and, therefore, have every reason to raise concerns about the city’s preparedness for this year’s rainy season.

As usual, the authorities are assuring residents that a good amount of work has been done to contain the anticipated large volumes of rainwater that will pour onto the soil of the national capital.

Prediction

Already, the Meteorological Agency is predicting heavy rainfall in the southern part of the country this year.

The Director of Research at the Ghana Metrological Agency, Mr Charles Kweku York, is quoted to have said: “The forecast for the northern part of the country is not available, but for the southern half, we are going to have normal to above normal rainfall; we are going to witness downpours so if we don’t do our things right we are going to have floods when our drainage systems are all choked.

“We are going to have rainy days, good rainfall days. The Accra mayor and the user agencies and all who matter should take precautionary measures because Ghana Meteo says this is what is going to take place.”

Non-completion of projects

The choking of drains is a major contributory factor to Accra's flooding. In spite of promises by successive administrations to solve this problem once and for all, nothing meaningful has been done about it.

The fact remains that the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) in particular has been putting in place measurers to combat the menace but a lot more needs to be done.

For instance, the Odaw River is yet to be desilted. Silt and refuse have consumed the river and it is a complete eyesore.

Last Monday, the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Samuel Atta Akyea, inspected some ongoing underground drainage systems meant to prevent flooding in Accra.

The works were in Nima drain behind Paloma Hotel, Adabraka Odaw drain, South Kaneshie drain, Odaw/Korle Lagoon, Sukura drain, Kaneshie First Light/Odorkor drain, Baale drain and Sakaman drain.

For a city that is beset with sanitation problems, any move to address the problem and its associated challenges permanently is welcome news.

However, it is not likely these projects will be completed before the rains set in.

Bad roads

Many of the roads in the city are in very terrible state. Some have not been attended to for years while some ongoing ones have been abandoned.

Even average rains are enough to completely fill the roads with water, making then unusable by vehicles. 

Residents have filed complaints with the relevant authorities but nothing has been done to fix them.

These roads need to be rehabilitated to prevent people from being cut out during heavy rains, but it appears time is running out because budgetary allocations were not made for reconstruction or rehabilitation.

Haphazard construction

Haphazard construction has led to encroachment on watercourses and even blocked drains.

This is a symptom of the age-old problem of poor urban planning, and Accra has suffered for it.

Clearly, the governments and city authorities have not been proactive in tackling flooding and maybe residents will only have to seek divine intervention as the rains set in.