Tamale Choked Gutters And The Coming Rains:

Feature Article of Saturday, 20 April 2013

Columnist: Ziem, Joseph

Anything to Worry About?

By Joseph Ziem

The rains are here again and very soon, residents of the Tamale Metropolis, some of whom still have fresh memories of that BLACK THURSDAY of 28th June, 2012, would definitely start dreading of another catastrophic rainstorm and flood disaster.

On the said day, there was a severe cyclonic rainfall that led to a flood disaster in the somewhat poorly planned metropolis, which residential areas have been heavily engulfed with filth due to the lazy attitude of most of the people. The disaster affected private homes and public buildings as well as other properties.

The National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) in collaboration with the Assembly and the Metropolitan Directorate of the Ghana Education Service did some assessment after it rained “elephants and bulls”, and it emerged that over 30 suburbs and communities of the city, most of which fall under the dirtiest vicinities, were seriously affected. Roofings of buildings were ripped-off while some collapsed. Personal belongings of some people were also carried away in areas which got virtually flooded.

The assessment also revealed that 2, 721 people were affected consisting of 811 adult males, 766 adult females, male and female children 1, 144. A total of 1, 820 people were displaced with 761 houses affected and 5,338 rooms involved. Two persons died whereas 5 basic schools were affected with cost of rehabilitation of these schools estimated to be around GH¢39,320.10.

This was the second major disaster to have occurred in the metropolis after the 2007 rainstorm disaster that was estimated to cost around GH¢3 million cedis. The government at the time said it could not provide that amount of money in the form of relief assistance, because if it did, the economy of the country, in the words of the former president who went to sympathise with victims of the flood, could be dislocated.

To some extent, the government was right considering the fact that we residents contributed towards the occurrence of that flood through indiscriminate and reckless waste disposal in drains and other waterways. But funny enough, the government was able to allocate US$20million for the celebration of 50years of nationhood. An insensitive government, isn’t it?

Why did the flood occur?

About 60 percent of the entire city does not have drainage systems or gutters and as a result, anytime the slightest rain occurred, residential areas located around serious waterlogged areas experience flooding.

Besides, even residential areas where there are gutters, most of them are heavily choked as a result of residents’ wanton disregard for good environmental practices and often resort to throwing solid waste into these gutters instead of disposing them off at public waste collection sites.

These choked gutters do not only produce a horrible smell, but they also serve as fertile breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other flies, which sometimes lead to severe cholera outbreak.

Once the cleanest city in Ghana, Tamale is now a growing slum and this is due to the poor waste management attitude of the Assembly officials coupled with the absence of the spirit of communal labour amongst residents, thus painting a dire picture for the entire metropolis.

Consistently, litterbins along most principal streets within the metropolis have been stolen by some unscrupulous individuals and turned into domestic waste containers in their homes whereas some use them to fetch water.

As we approach the first anniversary of the 2012 flood disaster, similar disasters that occurred in February and March early this year should serve as early warning signals to city officials. Nonetheless, it is incumbent on city officials to perhaps begin a door-to-door campaign in the various homes of the city to encourage residents to clean and desilt all the choked gutters in their neighbourhood in order to avoid another humanitarian crisis this year. The Ghana Urban Roads should also stop awarding the desilting of choked gutters on contract to political party foot soldiers who do not do it well due to lack of capacity and perhaps, consider giving such contracts to the Zoomlion Ghana Limited which has the capacity to deliver.

Officials of the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly should also seriously consider sealing all open drains and those yet to be constructed although it’s expensive, so that they can avoid the situation whereby residents living close to such gutters throw solid waste into them.

Lastly, the bye-law on waste management and sanitation should be strictly enforced in order to get rid of filth in the city particularly residential areas which fall outside the jurisdiction of Zoomlion Ghana Limited.

The writer is a freelance journalist but regularly writes for The Daily Dispatch Newspaper. Views or comments may be sent to him via ziemjoseph@yahoo.com/ +233 207344104.

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