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Demolish structures on watercourses - President directs MMDCES

BY: Benjamin Xornam Glover & Abigail Sedinam Kortiah
President Akufo-Addo cutting the tape to commission the dredging equipment near Ashaiman in Accra. Those with him are Yaw Osafo-Maafo (2nd from left), Senior Advisor to the President; Joseph Siaw Agyapong (3rd from left), Executive Chairman, Jospong Group of Companies; Francis Asenso-Boakye (right), Minister of Works and Housing, and Kwaku Asiamah (2nd from right), Minister of Transport. Picture: SAMUEL TEI ADANO
President Akufo-Addo cutting the tape to commission the dredging equipment near Ashaiman in Accra. Those with him are Yaw Osafo-Maafo (2nd from left), Senior Advisor to the President; Joseph Siaw Agyapong (3rd from left), Executive Chairman, Jospong Group of Companies; Francis Asenso-Boakye (right), Minister of Works and Housing, and Kwaku Asiamah (2nd from right), Minister of Transport. Picture: SAMUEL TEI ADANO

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has directed the removal of all structures on watercourses as a key intervention to stop the perennial floods in parts of the country.

He has also charged metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs) to ensure that, with immediate effect, every obstruction to the free flow of water, as well as developments along watercourses, is removed.

The President gave the directive when he commissioned two dredgers and marine equipment by Dredge Masters Limited (DML), a subsidiary of the Jospong Group of companies (JGC), on May 25, 2022.

The equipment, which adds to the €54-million investment the company has made in marine equipment, has the capability of dredging up to 16 metres deep and also carrying out large-scale reclamation.

Dredge Masters to the rescue

The IHC Beaver 50 dredgers can undertake mega projects at ports and harbours, reservoirs and dams, reclamation of land from the sea, environmental and climate change mitigation works, flood control activities, among others.

President Akufo-Addo said to ensure that the directives were strictly complied with, a monitoring unit had been established at the Jubilee House that would be reporting directly to him on the progress of implementation of the measures.

“I am, thus, putting all MMDCEs on notice. You will be held accountable for any breaches that result in damage from flooding. As the President of the Republic, I will not allow the selfish acts of a few to jeopardise the collective future of the rest of us,” the President said.

Sanctions

The President said MMDCEs were to ensure the strict adherence of developers to the planning laws of the country and sanction staff who had to issue permits for structures to be built on watercourses to serve as a deterrent to others who sought to engage in that act.

The Presidential directive comes on the heels of the days of heavy flooding experienced in parts of Accra, the Greater Accra Region and the Volta Region which displaced many people and destroyed properties running into millions of Ghana cedis.

President Akufo-Addo said while the government was doing its part, it could not overlook the negative effects of the dumping of refuse in open drains by some unpatriotic citizens.

He stressed that regardless of the investment made in the construction of drains, the indiscriminate disposal of solid waste into drains and channels would reduce the capacity to end the perennial problem of flooding.

He urged all engaged in such practices to put an end to them.

The President commended Dredge Masters for its continuous role in supporting his government's quest to find a permanent fix to the perennial flooding in parts of Accra.

He said the new fleet of equipment acquired by Dredge Masters would not only help curb the yearly flooding in Accra but also improve marine lives.

"For us in Ghana, Dredge Masters has made significant contributions in this area, and the introduction today of the two ultra-modern IHC Beaver 50 dredgers means that Ghana, within the West African market, has its own indigenous company which can dredge to a depth of 16 metres," he said.

He indicated that with the development, the country would not need to look outside any longer when it came to the dredging of dams, reservoirs, ports and harbours and land reclamation activities.

Investment

President Akufo-Addo reiterated that since 2017, his government had invested GH¢450 million in various flood-control measures to end flooding in the capital city.

He said the interventions had resulted in reduced incidents of flooding, especially in the major flood-prone areas in Accra, such as the Odaw drainage channel.

He said phase five of the Accra Sanitary Sewer and Storm Water Drainage Alleviation Project (ASSSDAP), which was intended to ensure that the Odaw channel was free of silt and debris, had been commissioned.

President Akufo-Addo was presented with a picture of the dredging process by Dr Joseph Siaw Agyapong (right), Executive Chairman, Jospong Group of Companies, and Ms Catina Geselschap (2nd from right), Director, Product-Dredging Modular Vessels. Picture: SAMUEL TEI ADANO

He said under the phase, the construction of 19 kilometres (km) of drains had been completed, while about 1,000km of drains had been excavated, rechannelled and maintained across the country as part of efforts to reduce the perennial flooding of Accra.

The President indicated that in spite of the recent intervention, it was obvious, from recent events, that more needed to be done to deal with the situation permanently.

He said the government would continue to work towards the day Ghanaians, especially those in Accra, would live in calm and tranquillity through the rainy season.

Perennial flooding

The Minister of Works and Housing, Francis Asenso-Boakye, in a brief remark, commended the DML's contributions towards fighting flooding in Accra.

While admitting that flooding in Accra had become an annual ritual which continued to pose grave risks to lives and properties, he urged Ghanaians to desist from practices that further compounded the phenomenon.

He said as the sector ministry in charge of drainage and flood management in the country, “we will continue to remain dedicated in partnering private companies such as Dredge Masters to find solutions to the perennial flooding, while delivering essential results for the sustainable development of our country”.

“Let me take this opportunity to emphasise that every citizen has a role to play in complementing the efforts of the government to find sustainable solutions to the perennial flooding. We all need to take our own safety seriously and be more mindful in the manner in which we dispose of solid waste,” he said.

He said the citizenry needed to desist from engaging in activities that obstructed the free flow of water, especially storm water, since the pursuit of improved settlement was a collective responsibility.

Fleet

The Executive Chairman of the JGC, Joseph Siaw Agyepong, indicated that the IHC Beaver 50 dredgers would augment the already existing fleet of the DML.

"Dredge Masters Limited is introducing these ultra-modern IHC Built Cutter Suction Dredgers, named Akua Boahenmaa and Abena Ayinfua, and associated marine equipment, which bring the capability of dredging up to 16 metres deep and the capacity to carry out large-scale reclamation," he said.

The fleet, the Executive Chairman added, had been augmented with two more amphibious dredgers, long brooms and other equipment over the years.

“Today, we have over 70 units of various dredging equipment," Mr Agyepong disclosed.

He said the dredging company was committed to quality, sustainability, environmental protection and upholding high standards, adding that it was fully committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in all its endeavours.

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