Dam Spillage: 26,000 Displaced - President pledges relief support
At least, 26,000 people have been displaced along the lower Volta Basin as of the last count yesterday as officials continue to take stock of the extent of havoc and devastation caused by the spillage of the Akosombo and Kpong dams.
The National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) has confirmed that the spillage by the Volta River Authority (VRA) has disrupted economic activities, stripped communities of their livelihoods and left many people needing emergency help in food, water and health care.
The reality of the national emergency sweeping across that side of Volta Region was evident as President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo visited the people yesterday.
President Akufo-Addo said the government, through NADMO, would continue to provide relief support to the affected persons to cater for their immediate needs, while the ministries of Agriculture and Finance, and the Office of the President would work with the relevant district assemblies to design the nature of long-term support for the affected persons.
The President flew to the site on a military chopper, accompanied by the Chief of Staff, Akosua Frema Osei-Opare; the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Issah Adam Yakubu; Ministers of State and a host of dignitaries, and sympathised with the people, promising that their plight would be taken care of.
In a sombre atmosphere, the people — many of them standing as they had done in the last five days — listened as the first of government’s high delegation toured the area for the first time since the disaster.
“I am here to commiserate with you about the tragedy that occurred,” the President said, adding that “when it happened, I was in America for official business,” the President said.
“Apart from what NADMO is doing, we have also got to think about the future,” stressing that he empathised with the largely farming communities whose members had lost farms, homes, other property and livelihoods.
He said the government would do everything in its power to make sure that things were alright for the affected people.
“I took the oath of office as the President of every single individual in Ghana.
Of all peoples in Ghana, of all districts, and whether they voted for me or not, once I have taken the oath, I am the President of all the people,” President Akufo-Addo added.
“It is because of the good works they have done that no single life has been lost in this disaster,” the President said in reference to the emergency support system to loud cheers from party faithful that thronged the St Kizito Senior High School Park where some of the displaced persons were being held.
The President promised to continue to monitor the situation until progress was made.
The Manklalo of Mepe, Togbe Kosi Nego VI, thanked the President for the visit.
He reiterated that the community had presented its challenges in a petition to the President, and expressed the hope that the government would relocate the affected persons to the Saglemi Housing site as a temporary measure, while a permanent solution was found to the situation.
Togbe Nego also appealed to the President and his team to speedily work on their request so as to ameliorate the challenges of the people in the area.
Among communities devastated by the flood, parts of Battor, Sogakope, Mepe and many island communities in the Volta Region, and parts of Ada in the Greater Accra Region appear the worst hit.
NADMO said out of the displaced people, the North Tongu area remained the most affected, recording nearly 10,000 displaced people, while Central Tongu, South Tongu, Ada and Anlo had 6,000 or fewer displaced people each.
The Deputy Director-General of NADMO, Seji Saji Amedonu, disclosed this when he briefed the President as he inspected the devastation at Mepe in the Volta Region.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Roads and Highways has allocated GH¢5 million from the Road Fund for the rehabilitation of the Sogakope bridge and other roads in the lower Volta Basin where communities and infrastructure have been affected by the spillage of the Akosombo and Kpong dams.
The Minister of Roads, Kwasi Amoako-Attah, said part of the funds would be used to rehabilitate the worn-out expansion plugs of the bridge as part of a maintenance programme by the Ghana Highway Authority (GHA).
During an inspection tour to access the integrity of the bridge as the water level of the Volta lake rose significantly following the spillage, the minister said presently, an auditing was also being carried out on the roads in the affected areas in the Volta, Eastern and Bono regions.
“Since the issues require urgent attention, I have informed the Coordinator of the Road Fund to make the money available, and I will inform the board accordingly so we can quickly tackle any defects readily while we await a proper assessment of critical roads in the affected areas when the water subsides,” Mr Amoako-Attah said.
He described the Sogakope bridge as one of the critical infrastructure that had supported trade since its original construction in 1967 and subsequent rehabilitation in 1996 to accommodate the increasing volume of trade between Ghana and its neighbouring West African states.
The bridge, he said, was so far safe from the floods as the water level was within the safe zone of 0.3 metres.
“Our goal is to ensure that we tackle the bridge and other affected roads,” he said.
Mr Amoako-Attah commended the VRA for the assistance it had extended so far.
He said the VRA had allocated a patrol boat for the removal of water hyacinth which had also impeded the flow of water from the lake.
The removal, he said, was supposed to last between five and six days.