We need lasting solution: Displaced communities cry out
Communities along the lower Volta basin have said they have paid too much price for sacrificing to power the nation.
They said since the construction of the Akosombo and Kpong dams, downstream communities had experienced varied and persistent forms of ecological, economic, health and social crises just for sacrificing to have the river dammed to generate power for the nation.
“We feel that this is too much a price to pay for our sacrifice to power the nation. We demand that while in the immediate term, the humanitarian catastrophe is dealt with, in the medium to long term, the state agencies responsible for the problems the communities are facing must engage the people to find a people-centred solution to these enduring crises,” the Chairman of the
Mepe Development Association (MDA), Kojo Mawulenu Fabian, told the Daily Graphic.
A school compound in one of the affected communities
Thousands of communities along the banks of the Volta River in the North, Central and South Tongu districts in the Volta Region are reeling under the devastating effects of the disaster that has impacted livelihoods of the people negatively as they bear the brunt of the spillage of excess water from the two dams by the Volta River Authority (VRA).
Thousands of homes have been submerged in the flood, destroying properties worth millions of cedis, with many rendered homeless. Mepe has been the worst hit.
Meanwhile, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has constituted an Inter-Ministerial Committee to address the Volta dam spillage-induced flooding.
“Headed by the Chief of Staff, Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, the committee will coordinate the government’s response to the unfortunate flooding of some communities,” a statement issued by the Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, who is also a member of the committee, said.
Other members of the committee include the Minister of National Security, Albert Kan-Dapaah, Minister for the Interior, Ambrose Dery, Minister of Defence, Dominic Nitiwul, the Minister of Energy, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, and the Minister of Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development, Dan K. Botwe.
The rest are the Minister of Works and Housing, Francis Asenso-Boakye; the Minister of Roads and Highways, Kwesi Amoako Atta; the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Kwaku Afriyie; the Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources, Freda Prempeh; the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, and the Minister of Information.
More emergency supplies
The people of Mepe entreated the government and its relevant agencies to speed up relief efforts to alleviate the plight of the people.
Mr Fabian said the thousands of displaced people urgently needed food supplies, drinking water, temporary accommodation facilities, medical interventions and clothing to prevent the already deplorable situation from further aggravation.
The association said there was a looming health crisis following the flooding of toilet facilities and refuse dumps.
“The river has been heavily contaminated leaving many, who depend on its water for cooking, drinking and other domestic uses, in a difficult situation,” the Chairman of the MDA told the Daily Graphic.
He said the situation had become dire because pipe-borne water had been shut down alongside widespread power cuts.
Mr Fabian described the situation as the worst since the 1965 flooding disaster that occurred following the construction of the Akosombo Dam.
“We are appealing for support from concerned individuals, organisations and other interested parties for the victims of the disaster in these trying moments,” he said.
The MDA Chairman expressed appreciation for the communal spirit and support exhibited by the youth and volunteers for the flood victims.
He said by so doing, they had saved lives and salvaged properties, urging “let us continue to be one another’s keeper and keep faith alive. We shall overcome”.
Alexander Gabby Hottordze, MP for Central Tongu, addressing the media
The Member of Parliament (MP) for Central Tongu, Alexander Gabby Hottordze, said the people of the Tongu area had sacrificed their lives for the construction of the Akosombo Dam 60 years ago, and were still suffering the consequences of their sacrifice.
He appealed to relevant state institutions and philanthropists to come and assist the victims.
The Assembly Member of the Sokpoe Electoral Area in South Tongu, Edmund Fingero Dikah, who led the media to some of the affected places, said precautionary measures should be taken to protect the Sogakope Bridge from collapse in the near future.
Mawupemor Fiagbenu, a victim at Siamekope, who has relocated to New Bakpa in the Central Tongu District, appealed to the VRA, the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) and the district assemblies in the lower Volta basin to come together and find lasting solution to the yearly spillage of water from the dams.
She said the spillage of the dams had worsened their plight in the midst of the difficult economic situation in the country as they had lost almost everything from physical cash, farms, clothes, children’s school stationery and textbooks, documents, among others.
On behalf of the people evacuated from Siamekope, Avadiwoekome and Bekpo, Ms Fiagbenu said the psychological trauma was even worse.
“To be honest with you, none of us here is in any better frame of mind. In the first place, this New Bakpa, where you have seen us, is not our own place. We have been brought here for days now through the collaboration of the assembly, NADMO and VRA,” she said.
“As a matter of fact, we have been disturbed to be brought here without any form of accommodation,” Ms Fiagbenu lamented.
“Let me say that apart from the school books and other materials, our children go to school at Adidome and due to the displacement and the way the water is moving, they wouldn’t be able to go to school,” she complained.
A young victim from Bekpo, Janet Mansah Nyagblordjro, said most of them just started making some progress in life, and that what had happened to them had set them back.
She said VRA did not give them enough prior information on the spillage, otherwise they would have relocated to nearby communities to avoid what she described as a “calamity”.