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Opinions of Sunday, 7 July 2013

Columnist: Abdulai, Alhasan

Let’s avoid superstition and propaganda

Let’s avoid superstition and propaganda in disaster management

By Alhaji Alhasan Abdulai

Although Ghanaians are largely religious, there appears to be a sudden trend of superstition and propaganda creeping into the social character of our nation. Some religious bodies and politicians were the first to be caught in these nets when we experienced fire outbreaks in rapid succession in major markets such as Kantamanto and Markola number two markets.

Even before the United States fire experts began their investigations into the fires some members of government threw into the public domain allegation that the fires were ignited by arsonists. Others attributed it to saboteurs wanting to make the government unpopular.

On the other hand other politicians opposed to the government and City authorities also accused the mayor of Accra and MP of the areas concerned of masterminding the fires to turn over the destroyed markets to businessmen to turn them into supermarkets befitting the areas. Some church leaders refused to be left out of this contest OF ideas also jumped into the fray by attributing the fires to God’s anger over Ghana for sins committed by some Ghanaians.

Other unsubstantiated claims for the fires made by various persons are yet to be proved. In Tema market we are experiencing accusations and counter accusations by opposing factions over alleged attempted arson attack in the market. While some residents of Tema believed the incident resulted from arson attack some members of the community contested that accusation saying it was a hoax. The culprits are yet to be identified and apprehended.

NEW FIRE OUTBREAKS

While fighting to unravel the mystery behind the fires we had fires breaking out in various locations in and outside the capital. The latest is the fire out break at the Aboadze Thermal power Station in Takoradi. Strangely in this case (no one or a group of people are yet to be tagged culprits for the occurrence) which has caused considerable damage to vital parts of the major power station. Where are the ‘superstitious doomsday spiritualists’, don’t they have answers to those major fire outbreaks especially the one in Takoradi?. This time the politicians and the spiritualists are quiet allowing scientific investigations into that fire in Takoradi. That is how it should be. Let’s allow investigations into issues that require scientific approach. POLITICAL ACCUSATIONS After all what would members of government and opposition gain by burning markets and power stations? Each of these men and women are competitors ‘fishing’ for people especially the market women and men who belong to different parties for their votes.

I do not believe that any leading member or even an underling of political parties would set markets ablaze. If there is someone like THAT he might be losing his mind.

FREEDOM OF SPEECH

No one can stop people from holding on to their beliefs. However if not handled properly what the exchange in accusations would do is to poison the atmosphere for security men to go on a wild goose chase for perceived enemies, suspected as ‘evil men’.

We have got TO know that our legal history has examples of some persons who were arrested, prosecuted and jailed for not committing any crimes. Let’s be careful with the way we judge events and people. If people are labeled wrongly and arrested they become dejected and traumatized. This is not good for a nation that has been relatively peaceful so far. This does not mean we should not get arrested people who really are found culpable of an offence under our laws. But such arrests must be done after careful and painstaking investigations.

ADOPT SCIENTIFIC APPROACH As far as the fire outbreaks are concerned we support scientific foolproof means of dealing with it. For example we support the setting up of a National Disaster Management Service NASERVE in place of NADMO as proposed by government. The government must give the new body financial muscle and technical capacity to be proactive to withstand the current trend of rapid increase in fire disasters and flooding in the country.

SELF SUPPORTING

As suggested by us recently we are happy to learn that the new body would have structures to make it financially self-supporting with a good insurance policy in towns and villages.

Part of the funds to be accrued could take care of compensations during disasters and for the early warning services.

We suggest the setting up of a board of directors made up of stake holders to manage the new body. The board should include fire service, banks and insurance bodies, civil society bodies, engineers’, energy organizations etc PUBLIC SEFETY The new body should have a public safety desk with youth corps and volunteers to deal with early warning reports OF fires and other disasters from around the country including markets and neighborhoods. Government should support the setting up of public safety coalitions and clubs in schools and towns and villages. There must be set up a public safety centers in all our major universities to teach and conduct research in public safety as part of environmental studies in the schools.

We are ready to share our knowledge and experience in the area of disaster management and to advice on how to stop disasters. It is our belief that if the above steps are taken major disasters would be reduced and if possible curtailed completely.

Executive Director

eanfoworld for sustainable development

P.O BOX 17070 AN

PHONE 23324 4370345/23326 4370345 23320 8844791 eanfoworld@yahoo.co /abdulai.alhasan@gmail.com