General News of Friday, 3 June 2016
Legislators in the country want government to put in practical measures to avert another calamity of the magnitude of June 3, 2015.
A year down the line, the capital city is still under threat of flood from the slightest of rain. At the special memorial session in parliament Friday, the legislators decried the lip service by government and local authorities and urged them to put in place stringent measures to forestall such future occurrences.
It would be recalled that last year, over 150 persons perished in a flood and fire disaster at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle after several hours of torrential rains.
The victims sought shelter at a GOIL Filling Station from the rains after a heavy downpour. But an explosion occurred and charred bodies after water seeped into the underground tanks of the fuel station, and displaced the fuel which later ignited.
Hundreds also sustained varying degrees of injuries leaving them with haunting scars of the unfortunate incident.
The aftermath of the disaster led to a series of actions from government including desilting of the Odaw River and the Korle Lagoon. The Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) began a massive clearing of choked drains.
For the Member of Parliament (MP) for Okaikoi Central, Patrick Boamah, who presented a statement on the floor of the house to mark the day, he said: “It is incumbent on the nation to improve on its disaster management efforts and also resource entities tasked with such responsibilities [to forestall any disasters].”
However, government is confident a disaster of such huge magnitude will not befall the country again. According to Deputy Local Government Minister, Emmanuel Agyekum, government has constructed enough drains to ensure steady flow of water during the rains. He told Class FM’s parliamentary correspondent Ekow Annan that he “thinks the city authorities are doing very well”.
“It could happen that there are few things to be done but generally it has been good. I strongly believe that we will not have such an experience again,” Mr Boamah added.
But MP for Tano North Freda Prempeh was not convinced about government’s efforts. Sharing her near-death personal experience at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle last year, she challenged the authorities to double their efforts towards addressing the perennial flooding associated with the rainy season experienced in the country.
“I went to [Kwame Nkrumah] Circle yesterday [June 2] to find out if we have been able to do something, but, Mr Speaker, the gutters are still choked. The gutters are not being desilted. What lessons have we really learnt from this disaster?” she asked.
“We are not constructing primary and secondary drains, we are not constructing storm drains and even peripheral drains, we are not doing. What is the guarantee that this thing [flood disaster] will not happen again?
“Today, if it rains as it did last year I am sure we will face a similar disaster. June 3, I was going to my constituency and when we got to the VIP station around [Kwame Nkrumah] Circle, it started raining heavily, so we had to park and wait. I insisted that we go and park at the filling station where the incident occurred but my driver, for once, said no. He said we should park at the VIP terminal. After some hours I insisted that we should continue the journey but he was adamant. When he was just about to start the car four of the VIP buses blocked the way so we could not manoeuvre to exit. It was raining heavily and the water was up to the mirror level and we could not do anything. He gathered courage and broke the glass, swarm to the other side, and called some of the other drivers to help me swim to a safer place. I just thank God that we did not go and park at the Goil Filling Station that day,” she added.
A solemn ceremony in remembrance of the persons that perished was held at the Rev. Ernest Bruce Memorial Methodist Church at Adabraka in Accra near the Kwame Nkrumah Circle.
President John Dramani Mahama also led government officials in a wreath-laying ceremony at the site where the disaster occurred.