File photo[/caption] A civil engineer, Ben Arthur, has cautioned that desilting drains in the country’s capital, Accra is not enough to prevent flooding if other drastic measures are not taken to end the annual cycle. He made these remarks in an interview with Johnnie Hughes on 3FM’s Community Connect programme on Friday May 3. According to him, “even if we desilt our drains and kept our environment clean, without implementing a plan to re-engineer the city’s drainage system, we will still have floods.” Re-engineering, he said, will ensure a proper mechanization of all drains to efficiently channel and accommodate water to prevent flooding. He made reference to the ongoing project at Kaneshie First Light as an example of what needs to be done urgently. He explained, “we need drastic measures to ensure we are safe in Ghana, because Accra by its topography is a low lying area”. He observed that rain water rushes down easier than it used to in the past, due to the increasing spate of physical development upstream, hence the increasing instances of flooding downstream. The engineer also suggested a change in Ghana’s current housing regulations, to enforce a rule that mandates property owners to leave between 15-20% of personal land spaces for greenery to allow for rain water to easily run off and sip away into the earth. As an incentive for those who would leave larger spaces with the right slope, he recommended a cut in their building permit fees. He further challenged authorities to muster courage and remove buildings in water ways. “We should be courageous to pull down buildings in water ways.” Ing. Arthur added that people who often build on water ways do not feel the brunt of their fault but rather those downstream have had to endure regular flooding, destruction of properties and sometimes death. In some localities in Ghana, estate developers and land owners have developed the habit of filling water logged areas and low-lying areas with gravel to elevate their lands. In some cases, home owners find it prestigious to cover all open spaces with pavement blocks or tiles. However, Ben Arthur admonished that having completely paved or tiled compounds is not the way to go, and doesn’t in anyway prove affluence. As to why these ideas are not being practiced, Ben Arthur said “engineers know these, but they are unavailable to implement them because of the laws.” The engineer explained that a strong legal backing could give some authority to engineers and local assemblies to enforce these standards. He called on Ghanaians to return to the culture of harvesting water when the rains come along, as that could also help in fighting floods.