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Opinions of Saturday, 6 June 2015

Columnist: Pobee-Mensah, Tony

Leave It To Abongo Rawlings

“I wish I had a bulldozer.” Sure, Mr. Rawlings. That’s the only solution you have for the country’s problems: be a brut about it. If Mr. Rawlings had a bulldozer, people would lose their livelihood at his say so. He would be the judge and judge and then proceed to execute his judgement. If the country had laws, there would be a legal process to address such things that he calls illegal.

I wonder if Mr. Rawlings talked to engineers before judging that the problem is as he has stated it. I wonder if Mr. Rawlings has the engineering knowledge that it takes to come the conclusion that he has come to. The fact remains that Accra was flooding 40 years ago when I left Ghana and has consistently flooded almost year after year since. Mr. Rawlings had 20 years as the leader of Ghana and thus had 20 years to do something about the floods in Accra. It took him this long to wish that he had a bulldozer. Thank God he didn’t think of bulldozers when he was President because all he would have done was apply his “abongo” solutions and people would be out of their homes and we would still have the floods.

Ghana’s problem is more leadership than anything else. I have written about Accra’s floods before on Ghanaweb. If any leader in Ghana read my article, he or she didn’t do anything. Mr. Rawlings had 20 years in which he could have had engineers study the problem and come up with solutions. We would at least have the solution ready to go even if it wasn’t implemented. What did he do?

About three weeks ago my boss assigned me a project. A neighborhood had flooded following some heavy rains. There was a 48 inch pipe carrying storm water to a location and then an 18 inch pipe to carry it from there to a creek. In one week I had a design of 42 inch pipe to replace the 18 inch pipe and the following week we had a contractor putting the drainage pipe in place. Today, there is no flood. No one’s home was bulldozed. If anyone’s home had to be bulldozed, we would have bought the home before bulldozing it: that is civilization; not “abongo”.

If nothing at all, we can dig channels to channel the water to ponds and line them with grass to help reduce erosion. It is done all the time. Look along the highways in America and Europe if you happen to be in any of these places. The trick is to have them be big enough to do the job.

As far as the cause goes, Mr. Rawlings, anytime you create an impervious surface, you increase the chance of a flood and your home and the Ghana Commercial Bank Tower are as guilty as the homes of the people who have built on “waterways”.

The worse of the problem is that if petroleum is mixing water to create such fire, how much petroleum have seeped into the grounds that we grow our food on, and how much contaminants have we eaten in our food unbeknown to us? When ever did anyone do an environmental study to see how much of what will harm us get washed to places where we grow our food? Mr. Rawlings had 20 years as President. I think it is in order to ask him.

The same people are at it again. They are running for President. None of them addresses any of these issues. Our reporters don’t ask, and woe unto someone like me who may dare ask. NPP folks will call me NDC and NDC people will call me NPP and we will truck on. If I had to predict, I will say that when the rains go away, we will resort to our usual routine like nothing ever happened until next year when the floods come back. Oh Ghana.

Tony Pobee-Mensah tpmensahr@yahoo.com

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