June 3 Disaster: No lessons learnt after 5yrs?

It’s been five years since the twin fire and flood disaster occurred in Accra to devastating consequences and for many victims, their scars are a constant reminder of the grim experience.

That pain is exasperated by the fact that many of the things that contributed to the cause of the disaster continue to take place with careless abandon.

It was labelled the Black Wednesday and witnesses and survivors continue to recount the horror and pain from that day.

It killed 154 people and hundreds suffered severe burns resulting in permanent physical disabilities.

The report of the ministerial committee that investigated the disaster at the time attributed the floods to choked gutters, which blocked the drainage system, improper planning of settlements and a few other human factors.

The cause of the fire was also attributed to the floods, and poor safety practices at fuel stations.

Till date, however, no one has been held accountable for the incident and the story in the area where the disaster occurred remains the same.

Gutters continue to be choked blocking the free flow of rain water.

The lower parts of the Odaw river known as Sodom and Gomorrah continues to be blocked by settlers who had reclaimed substantial portions of the Odaw channel.

Kwaku Agyemang-Duah, who is the Chief Executive of the Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs), managers of fuel stations, said the June 3 Disaster has awoken their thinking in ensuring improved safety as they randomly check up on and insist on best practices in the 4,000 fuel stations across the country.

“It has really shaped our thinking and we are also looking at getting our stations in better shape than it used to be. We have changed the complete paradigm and the way we do things and we have beefed up safety measures at all our stations,” he told TV3.

He lamented that till date, the OMCs have no copy of the committee’s report.

“For us as an association, we haven’t even got a copy of the report. We are talking about 5 years after that no report. Now we are taking a lot of mandates so if we see any incident like this one we will not have waited. That’s what June 3rd has taught us, that we can’t rely on the state for such investigations to be done because while they are investigating we are also operating. Who loses more, it’s us of course and the consumers 150 who died at that time. I don’t want that thing to happen.”

Engineer Narteh Ocansey of the Ghana Institution of Engineers is worried governments have no long-term plan for the rains in Ghana.

“The basic problem is the lack of planning where we don’t have site plans, we develop our planning to meet such things as the contours and other geographic features that are on the land,” he said.

“You would ask, when the rain comes, it needs land to move on. So once you have not made provision on land for the water to move and certainly compounded with garbage in gutters and buildings in water ways, certainly you are going to have a challenge.”

For many, it appears appropriate authorities only paid lip service as conditions that could result in another disaster looms.

By Evelyn Tengmaa|3news.com|Ghana