Wednesday, July 2, 2008


THE beginning of the rains has brought to the fore the inappropriateness of the drainage systems in Kumasi.
Indeed, for many residents of the metropolis, the heavy flooding that has become synonymous with Accra is replicating itself in Kumasi and unless a positive action is taken by the authorities something terrible could happen in the city soon.
The frontiers of the city keeps expanding so fast that the city authorities are finding it very difficult to get the needed resources to provide the required drainage systems.
The result is that hitherto safe areas have started experiencing one form of flooding or the other while nothing has been done to flood prone areas.
In fact, for the first time the Kumasi Central Market has been experiencing serious flooding. This year the area has witnessed three of such floods, resulting in massive destruction to property.
In the first flood which happened about a month ago in the night , traders woke up to find their wares, mostly wax prints destroyed.
And just last week another heavy rain caused a similar destruction in the market.
No one needs an expert to establish that the flooding in the market has been the result of choked drains within and outside the market.
The decision to dump all manner of garbage into the open drains has been a disturbing phenomenon in the metropolis but the increasing dimension which the practice has taken is what has compounded the situation.
Clearly, many of the people, especially the women who operate in the market, are the worst offenders.
Instead of engaging people to convey the garbage they create to the refuse dumps, they choose to dump them in the drains, which eventually choke the systems. Any heavy rains are therefore likely to create flooding of the market.
The Kumasi Central Market lacks proper planning. Built several years ago, the market has outlived its usefulness and today the city is crying for a new market to befit its status.
About five years ago, the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) announced the decision to construct a new central market under the Build Operate and Transfer system.
However, it looks like it was only a dream that is not likely to come to fruition in the nearest future.
Apart from the Central market, many other areas are crying for proper drainage systems to reduce the flooding. Areas like Ala Bar, Oforikrom, Ahensan, Atonsu, Adiembra, Airport Roundabout and many others are in serious need of proper drainage systems.
Just last week, a man drowned in an overflowing drainage system at the Labour Roundabout. The deceased had apparently miscalculated the power of the waters in the drains and attempted to cross it but he was swept away.
Some of the buildings are almost always submerged by floodwaters when it rains heavily. Yet, occupants would move back into them when the waters subside.
Haphazard construction continue to be the bane of the city even though the authorities have persistently drummed home their resolve to tackle the situation head on.
Last year, the KMA spent a huge sum of money to demolish some unauthorised structures in the metropolis. Some of these structures restricted the free movement of rainwater. Unfortunately, however, some of the structures have started springing up again.
For how long can we continue to tolerate indiscipline in the society?
Perhaps the time has come for the KMA to bite very hard because many people do not take the assembly seriously.
Again the assembly has decided to embark on a demolition exercise of buildings in watercourses as a way of addressing the regular flooding in some areas.
We need to look at this decision from two angles. One is whether the authorities will have the political will to implement that decision and two, whether that could be the permanent solution to the problem.
Recently, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) began a similar demolition exercise. The AMA earmarked about 200 houses for demolition in some parts of the city but had to stop just a day after the exercise began.
Later, the assembly indicated that it was no more going to continue the exercise, and that it had decided to improve the drainage systems in the flood-prone areas as a permanent solution.
I am beginning to think that it will be very difficult for the KMA to undertake any demolition exercise, especially looking at the peculiar nature of Kumasi.
Perhaps, the KMA could take a cue from the Accra experience and start adopting workable measures to address the situation.
Last week Friday the Ghana News Agency (GNA) reported that the Ashanti Regional Secretariat of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) warned that there would be heavy rains in the Kumasi metropolis and its environs during the weekend.
It, therefore, warned the people, especially those staying around flood prone areas, to take the necessary precautionary measures to prevent flood related disasters.
A statement issued in Kumasi last Friday said a weather warning from the Ghana Meteorological Services Agency predicted that Kumasi metropolis and its environs would experience heavy and continuous downpour.
It said it was, therefore, important for residents, especially those in flood prone areas, to take necessary steps to prevent any unfortunate situation which might be caused by the floods.
The statement advised parents to monitor activities of their children to avoid being carried away by running waters in gutters.
It also advised residents to contact the military, fire service, the police and NADMO personnel in case of any emergency on telephone numbers 051-24088, 22221, 22222, 22322 or 020-8172193 for assistance.

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