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Opinions of Thursday, 27 July 2017

Columnist: Ananpansah B. Abraham

Perennial flooding: Can we ever learn our lessons as a country?

Most places in the capital get flooded whenever there is a downpour Most places in the capital get flooded whenever there is a downpour

It is a miserably terrifying moment.Our country is once again clothed in black and red.Terribly sad, indeed!

The whole of Tamale came to a standstill, leaving many residents completely devastated following last Tuesday's awful flood that hit the town unaware ...In fact,the fastest growing city in West Africa is still in a state Coma.

At this very trying times,our hearts and minds are with the people of Tamale,particularly,the families,friends and relatives of deceased victims of last Tuesday's apocalypse.I wish to personally commiserate with our comrade,the Northern Regional GNAT trustee on the lost of his dear sister Hajia Fati Amams who wailed for help in the troubling waters but no one could hear her voice.

And to the innocent school pupil.Find a peaceful rest in the bossom of Abraham brethren.

It can sometimes be very had to imagine the end of life.You wake-up healthy with the hope of life,set about your normal duties,and tell your family 'I would be back in a jiffy',only to leave the same family,friends and relatives in a tearful everlasting good-bye.What a pitiable life!But that is the way of life.

I sometimes wish we could resurrect back these valuable lost lives,but not on mother earth,at least.

I'm told the Northern Regional Secretariat of the National Disaster Management Organization(NADMO) is assessing the gravity of the floods.I wish them well.

Flooding in the north and Ghana at large;

Sad to say,but we have been here before .It's never my prayer or wish,but we may be here again .Today,we are shedding tears.We are weeping the error of our common sins. But the excruciating reality is that,we may be here to weep again.When that time comes,which I pray it doesn't,we would not be weeping for Hajia or the school pupil...But the tearful good-bye may just be in the name of me or you.Don't you feel this!Did I just say me or you?I think I did....

Today, NADMO we are told is assessing the gravity of the flood.A 'gravity' they have assessed in the past before,and we are yet to see anything good come out of such assessment.But they are still in an assessing spree.Huh!Let's see how it goes.(We are just watching! ).

Down memory lane; On the 25th of July,2016,same floods killed one person and displaced several hundreds in the Tamale Metropolitan area and Sagnerigu district. NADMO told us in a CitiFM report that they were assessing the disaster and to collate actual statistics.

On 29th April,2014, hundreds of residents in the Northern Region were displaced by severe rainstorms.Houses were destroyed. Infact, portions of the official residence of the then Northern Regional Minister and his Deputy were badly affected.

In 2007 and 1999, major floods ravaged the three regions in the north of Ghana. NADMO,indeed,revealed that the 2007 floods affected close to 275,000 people in Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions of Ghana.

Northern Ghana was nearly at risk of chronic hunger following the opening of the Bagre dam in Burkina Faso in 2007.Enormous water was released into the white volta. Staple crops such as rice, maize,beans and soya beans were washed away.People were in urgent need for food.We had to beg the world cup in hand for rescue.

I guess the June 3,2015,flood disaster that hit the capital(Accra) is still very fresh in our minds.Over 159 valuable lives perished away that faithful day.Property worth GhC1,658,847,000 washed down the drain. Mr.Justice Isaac Douse's led five member committee tasked at the expense of the tax payer to probe into the underlying factors that led to the unfortunate national disaster outlined major recommendations after their findings.

The recommendations ended on paper.Wasted time and tax payers money were the end results.The recommendations included:compulsory provision of bins and baskets for all commercial vehicle operators,dredging of the Odaw and Korle Lagoon,establishment of sanitation police inter alia.

Do you see some of these recommendations manifesting in your community?That is Ghana for you!

So you see!We've seen it all.We have been through what we are seeing in Tamale today.Not once,not twice,but on several counts...And I tell you,most if not all of these floods or natural disasters are human preventable.We just needed to do something right...But the big unanswered question that should always run in our mind's eye remains,what are we not getting right?

Are we really learning our lessons from past experience as a country or we are just waiting for the next victim to be victimized,and we will as usual talk plenty and do little?Can we ever learn our lessons as a country,and bring a stop to some of these things?

Guess what? In this country called Ghana,even a well positioned primary school child can tell you the causes and even go ahead to proffer solutions to these perennial flooding/natural disasters in his/her community and the country at large.Is that not amazing?

Just ask and such a child would tell you that,we've Town and Country Planing departments under each Assembly (MMDAS) in Ghana,yet our towns and cities are poorly planned.No proper layout.We put up buildings 'anyhow' without recourse to proper architectural design.

Such a child should be able to say that,we've untapped spirit of nationalism and communism(gone days of communal labour) largely dying in us, yet our gutters are choked.We dispose our refuse indiscriminately. Our drainage system is highly poor.Our gutters now bank solid waste instead of liquid waste.There is no free flow of liquid waste.

It should be said that we have sanitation unit/officers in each MMDA in Ghana,yet our sanitation laws are either not enforced or partially enforced.One wonders were the gone days of 'Samasama' could be....Sanitation laws are flagrantly flouted with impunity.Politics of Sanitation is the order of the day.

The child should be able to tell that,as a people,we've totally lost it.Our minds are enslaved.Our attitudes are bankrupt.And that we need attitudinal and mental emancipation.We throw garbage into gutters and open streets, plastic waste is improperly disposed, and open defecation is an emboldened practice with shoulders up.

We don't obey sanitation laws.We now even give political colouration to sanitation and its related issues.We fail to manage the environment in a sustainable manner.

Need I say much! Have you noticed we have diagnosed and know the solutions to our sickness long time ago?Just that we lack a committed spirit.I guess we are waiting to all be wiped out before we begin to walk the talk...

It's thus simple,we effectively need to implement the sanitation laws of the country and change our attitudes towards our common environment. (I call it attitudinal, legal and mental emancipation). And until we begin to do the needful,we will always be here someday somehow.

May God bless our homeland Ghana.