Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A whiff of honesty

Flash floods in the Ghanaian capital Accra have left at least 23 dead, with the Army called in to deal with a growing public emergency, reports the BBC.

And, as we all know, if there is a drought, it is global warming and, if there are floods, it is global warming. Except that, for once, we get a local commentator by the name of Emmanuel Dela Coffie, with a superb blog, who says otherwise.

Once again torrential rains have hit the nation's capital, creating floods in various parts that have caused great havoc to lives and property, he writes. The ravages and the ruins of the flood captured and highlighted on our television screens and newspaper pages are quite dreadful.

According to BBC report, 23 people have died and several dozens were swept away on Sunday night by rapidly rising waters whiles others were stranded on the roofs of their houses. Transport links between the capital and other cities were disrupted. Daily Graphic on Tuesday 22 June put the death toll to 35 and we are still counting.

As I write this piece, says Coffie, there are scenes of collapsed buildings and fence walls, damaged roads, falling electricity and telephone poles with mangled wires, choked drains, gutters and ramshackle structures, all staring us in the face. It is deplorable and pathetic situation that is unbecoming of the status of Accra as capital of Ghana.

But, he says, the issue of floods has become an annual ritual and it amazes me that the authorities wait till the worst happened before they start announcing their unexciting solutions. Are we reactive or proactive? Why must we wait for these things to happen before finding lasting solutions to them?

Clearly, the problem of flooding in Accra cannot be attributed to the natural course of excessive downpour of rain. Rather the floods are caused by human activities of indiscipline and negligence as well as lack of adequate and effective drainage structures to care for the flood waters.

Indiscriminate disposal of refuse has led to choking of drains and gutters. Houses are built in waterways blocking the flow of rain water, while bad town planning policies and programmes also contribute to the problem.

Usually in the event of the flood disasters, the authorities go on an inspection to assess the extent of damage and make promises to address the situation but as soon as the water dried up, everybody go to sleep.

It is very disturbing to wake up every day after heavy downpour to hear of lost lives and property as a result of poor structuring of houses in the city. How many deaths do we expect to occur before our leaders would take a critical look at the situation and come out with urgent solutions to mitigate this flooding problem? Are lives of innocent people precious to us?

Inundated nature of Accra after down pour has always been disastrous and the nation spent millions of Ghana cedis to provide shelter, tents and relief items for the victims. Why can't our leaders re-structure the city to avoid the incident from occurring again?

You do not have to be a pilot to understand and appreciate the power of navigational system. These days most new cars are equipped with navigational system to save us time on a trip because it helps us to avoid needless delays by simply telling us where we are in relation to where we are going. This device is capable of showing the best route to take. So why are our leaders refusing to think outside the box?

As a nation, do we know where we're going? The apprehension is that, how long does the nation have to wait to find solution to the flooding problems? How far can we see the problem? And whose job is it to protect us from this annual ritual of flooding?

We are literally in crises situation as a result of persistent flooding yet we're busy building houses on water ways. So how far can we see the future? Who is responsible for the quality of our lives?

To be able to see clearly, we have to think outside the box. The Ghanaian attitude to life is just horrible. It is a tragedy, anytime life is diminished by persistent flooding when they could have been fulfilling their potentials in making instructive contribution to the nation and mankind.

We have a capital city that is constantly swamped under water anytime there is downpour yet despite the fact that this problem has been there for ages, we like the proverbial vulture, would always want to wait till tomorrow to solve our problems. Must we always offer curative measures instead of preventive?

These are not funny things neither are we in funny times so that someone must continuously drum it into the minds of those whose duty it is protect us.

Until we are able to control the problem of plastic in our cities, no drainage will solve the problem. The Korle and Odawna lagoon says it all. Why should we be dumping raw sewage in rivers and streams in this 21st century? Our engineers should study the problem and take holistic measures than pulling down structures which is not the main solution to the flooding.

It appears that our leaders have over the years played so much politics with settlement and unauthorized structures on water courses thereby leading to the very avoidable flood disaster we are experiencing today. It has become a yearly ritual to be talking about flooding with no concrete action taken as we forget as soon as the rains subside.

Let's walk the talk and do a little bit and find solution to this annual ritual of flooding in this country, Coffie concludes.

And rarely do we find such honesty and clarity. Not a mention of global warming – no attempt to dump the problem on whitey. "Our leaders have over the years played so much politics with settlement and unauthorized structures on water courses thereby leading to the very avoidable flood disaster we are experiencing today."

Governance ... poor governance, pure and simple. But hey – I am sure the warmists will have a different diagnosis.