Before commemorating the one year anniversary of the June 3 disaster, Dr. Alfred Oko Vanderpuye had something to say.
He spoke as confidently as a bell boy in a primary school would sound his bell announcing break time.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” started the Mayor of Accra, “I am here this morning to report officially to you that Accra is standing better than the days of June 3.”
Speaking with that cocksure pronouncement, the Mayor added, “The commitment to make sure to remove all obstacles, desilt and dredge the Korle lagoon and the Odaw river to ensure water will flow whenever it rains in Accra, will continue and continue unabated.On behalf of government to the people of Accra and, indeed, the whole nation, the people’s capital [Accra] is ever safe than before.”
Really? Accra is safe?
Indeed, one must appreciate the effort of the Mayor. When he wakes up every morning and heads to his office, I do not believe he goes there to sleep. He is definitely transforming the city as the days go by.
That notwithstanding, it is worrying to hear him tell us that we are witnesses to the fact that few days ago,when we had three to four days of severe rains, the city was able to withstand the circumstances and the aftermath of the rains.
If Nkrumah Circle and the central business district of Accra, somewhat, did not flood during the recent rains, it does not mean the whole of Accra was safe.
The celebrated travel writer, Kofi Akpabli, once wrote an article he titled “Where is Accra?” In that piece, he takes his readers through some towns within the catchment of ‘Accra’ teasing his readers with the question where exactly Accra is.
If Accra, per Dr. Vanderpuye, is Nkrumah Circle and a few other areas, then, where is his jurisdiction as a Mayor? On the day it recently rained severely, I spent over an hour in search of a flood-free road to my house.
At places such as Kaneshie, Mataheko and a host of others, people were trapped behind the floods.
On the Facebook wall of Stephen Anti, a journalist with TV3/3FM, he wrote on the floods. Permit me to share at least one of his posts with you.
“Flood Alert: ECG Mains at Dzorwulu … the entire road before [the] rail tracks is flooded. Please, drive with care. The entire stretch up to Abelemkpe Junction is flooded,” he wrote.
On the wall of another friend, Selina, she gave a word of caution to her Facebook friends as she read people postings about the floods; “#AccraRains: Take care.”
It is surprising that Accra is declared flood-free but its residents’ hair stand on end when it rains. It is true the Korle and the Odaw are being dredged, which I learnt is 48% complete. However, I do not think this gives the Mayor of Accra the reason to conclude Accra is flood-free.
“He who has a number of farms,” our elders say, “must spend time attending to all of such farms.” Therefore what is causing flood in other areas under his jurisdiction must also be catered for.
The little we have done, we make the most noise out of it, thereby, limiting us in focusing on the greater good. If a country like France still battles with flood, then as DCE Kwame Kwakye once said, “We are the who” to say our City is flood-free?
Sunyani Magazine, in the Brong Ahafo region, is one of the best places in the country to get one’s car fixed. Nonetheless, there are some vehicles that, no matter what, will not pass the fitters’ litmus test. Such hopeless vehicles eventually find a home at the Magazine.
One of such vehicles is a taxi I once saw. Walking down the Angola Junction into the Sunyani Magazine, this taxi sat on piles of cement blocks and a discarded mortar. Funny enough, at the back of the taxi was written “STILL! NO PROBLEM.”
Is it not sad that considering the state of Accra its Mayor would declare the City like the taxi at Sunyani Magazine as having no problem?
The Zulus of South Africa say a man’s beauty is judged by the number of cows he owns. Can Accra, therefore, boast of being ‘beautiful’ with the ‘cows’ of dredging the Korle and the Odaw while many other parts of the city wished it never rained?
If we would want to gladly declare Accra flood-free, we must tackle the obstacles that lead to the flooding holistically. Our drainage system must be given the necessary attention by opening up the narrow ones and reconstructing the broken. The choked gutters must be cleaned once and for all. Buildings on waterways must be brought down without fear or favor!
We pray the June 3 disaster never happens again. However, even if one person in any part of Accra dies or loses a property to yet another flood, we must see it as a dent on our image.
Residents of Accra must see rains as a blessing rather than a curse.
Today is the day. There is no tomorrow. We must do whatever is expected of us this day. An ox hide is folded to a shape one wants while it is still fresh.
By Solomon Mensah|3FM|3news.com
The writer is abroadcastjournalistwith 3FM. Thispieceremainssolelyhisopinionandnotthat of hismediaorganization.
The column, TALKING DRUM, comes your way every Wednesday.
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