Akosombo Dam spillage: Navy rescues 8,000 flood victims
The Ghana Navy says it has rescued more than 8,000 victims of the spillage from the Akosombo and Kpong dams as of Sunday, October 15, this year.
A combined rescue team deployed to the affected districts is currently monitoring critical infrastructure and responding to distress calls in order to minimise the effect of the damage caused by the spillage.
Giving an update on the floods and rescue operations at Mepe in the Volta Region, the Flag Officer Commanding the Western Naval Command, Commodore Emmanuel Ayesu Kwafo, said the command had deployed more than 10 boats downstream with experienced divers and lifesavers to assist in the rescue efforts.
Commodore Kwafo said there were plans to deploy more personnel and logistics if the rescuers became inundated with the current efforts being executed.
He indicated that the Navy had deployed personnel to other parts of the country which were experiencing floods, and mentioned some of the areas as Kpando Torkor, Dzemeni, Buipe, Anloga, in addition to some of its permanent duty posts.
“We are monitoring critical infrastructure and responding to distress calls from the district assemblies, the Volta River Authority (VRA) and the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) and we have been rescuing people on the water and we are monitoring the estuary because it becomes a deathtrap in times of flooding.”
Commodore Kwafo assured that “depending on how it goes, we may bring in more facilities and more personnel or if the situation improves, then, we may be keeping a watch anyway and we are ready to respond to any distress call and help save lives and properties to help mitigate the losses during these difficult times.”
The Volta River Authority (VRA) commenced water spillage from the Akosombo and Kpong dams on September 15, 2023, due to a consistent rise in the inflow pattern and water level of the Akosombo reservoir.
Described as a disaster mitigation plan, the spillage exercise started at a very low rate without any significant impact on the downstream communities until October 10, 2023 when six spillage gates were opened to increase the flow as water-inflow to the reservoir kept increasing and levels got close to the maximum capacity that the dam can take.
The exercise, the VRA indicated, was a crucial one aimed at protecting the dam’s integrity and technological installations.
The heightened spillage has led to an overflow of the Volta River’s banks and displacing settlements in about nine different district assemblies in the Volta and Eastern regions including North, Central and South Tongu District Assemblies, Asuogyaman, Shai Osudoku and Ada.
Almost all communities along the lower Volta Basin have been affected resulting in widespread power cuts in affected communities, submerged houses, with displaced people going hungry.
The volume of water spilled from the dams has also caused some lagoons in the Keta basin to overflow their banks, leading to flooding in some communities in the Anlo and Keta districts.
A number of notable hospitality facilities affected by the floods include Villa Cisneros, Sogakope Beach Resort and Spa, and Holy Trinity Spa and Health Farm.
At least, 25 nurses were evacuated from the nurses’ quarters at the Comboni District Hospital in Sogakope.
This year’s spillage exercise is not the first time VRA is spilling water from the Akosombo Dam.
A similar exercise was carried out in 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1991 with the recent one done in 2010.
They were all done to prevent water from overtopping the dam.
To mitigate the impact of such exercises, the VRA developed the Emergency Preparedness Plan (EPP).
The EPP is in three phases with phase one having water spilled very low and not exceeding 5,000 metric cubes (m3), phase two keeps spillage between 5,000 and 10,000 m3 while phase three is volume above that of the second phase.