Akosombo/Kpong dams spillage: Structural assessment to determine relocation
The relocation of displaced people affected by the spillage of the Akosombo and Kpong dams would be determined by an assessment being done by stakeholders on whether the submerged structures could be reinhabitable.
As a matter of urgency, an assessment of properties submerged by the spillage in all the affected districts of the Volta, Greater Accra and Eastern regions would be undertaken to determine if those structures could be re-occupied by homeowners when the water recedes.
Already, technical personnel from the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources and its allied bodies, such as the Water Resources Commission, Water Research Institute and Hydrological Authority, have taken samples of the water sources in the affected areas for testing to ensure there are no chemical or bacterial contamination.
Addressing journalists at Battor in the Volta Region to update the public on the management of the disaster, a Deputy Minister of Information, Fatimatu Abubakar, said that as the water levels drop, the team would work to ensure an assessment of properties would be done, because they can’t push forward for rehabilitation until they could touch the grounds to know how strong those buildings may be.
She stated that if the test outcomes indicate that the places are habitable and that it would be sufficient to fumigate and clean the communities and also assist the people with resources in terms of what they could build either by way of restoration of livelihoods or rehabilitating schools and affected hospitals so the people could go back to their normal lives, that could be done,” she said.
Civil society organisations and members of the public have called on the government to relocate the displaced people from the classroom facilities to the abandoned Saglemi housing complex so academic work could be restored for the displaced children.
However, Ms Abubarkar said we should “not think that it is relocation or nothing else, because there are other socio-cultural issues that we may have to consider.”
She explained that it would be important to understand that many of the displaced people have their farms and entire livelihoods in the affected areas.
Thus, “such decisions will have to be made by having a more extensive engagement in the communities and coming to an agreement.”
The Deputy Information Minister said once the outcome of the tests is released and advice by the technical experts is given, the government would go by that.
“If the test results from the Ministry and its agencies are out and the government is advised that the places are not habitable and that there will be the need to extend the time people are supposed to stay in the shelters provided as safe havens, that would be the plan.
“Whatever is in the best interest of the people is what the government has in mind since there is a general rehabilitation plan to ensure that people get back to their lives,” Ms Abubarkar added.
The Director-General of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), Eric Agyemang-Prempeh, said data collected across the affected areas showed an increase in the number of displaced people to over 39,133, of which 129 of the displaced were identified as persons with disabilities.
While many of the displaced people have complained about the inadequacy of the relief support, Mr Agyemang-Prempeh said that efforts were being made to improve the sharing arrangements.
The National Emergency Operation Center (NEOC), he said, has been able to co-ordinate response operations, and gather information from the incident scene and safe havens, which are critical to the management of resource mobilisation, allocation and distribution.
NADMO, through the relief administration committee and District Disaster Management Committees, is working to ensure decontamination as the water recedes.
“We are also working closely with all stakeholders on how to reopen schools for academic work while the assessment of the structural integrity of houses and infrastructure in the affected communities will also be conducted,” Mr Agyemang-Prempeh said.
He expressed the hope that the inter-ministerial committee which is still working on the long-term livelihood and reconstruction plan would soon announce programmes in line with the AU sustainable livelihood assisted programme being developed.