The impunity with which a section of the business community in the Kumasi metropolis and its environs are reclaiming wetlands for the development of private property is now causing grave public agitations across the metropolis.
With the increasing spate of floods in the metropolis in recent times and their devastating effects on lives and property, public agitations against the rezoning of wetlands by city authorities for use by private land developers also seem to be on the ascendency.
According to a section of residents, city authorities in the metropolis are only interested in rezoning wetlands without ensuring that properly -engineered constructional works are carried out.
The result is that structures constructed close to rivers and streams block the course of waterways, causing water to be diverted to lowlands during downpours thereby causing flooding and destruction of lives and property.
A 45-year-old taxi driver, Mr Kwadwo Sarfo Amankwa, whose vehicle was almost washed away during a downpour told the Daily Graphic that it was time to draw the attention of the city authorities to act professionally by placing public interest above theirs when rezoning natural reserves.
‘ They do not monitor constructional works at wetlands or allow professionalism to bear on projects developed in these areas for the free flow of water when it rains’ Mr Amankwa bemoaned during an interview.
He said the indiscriminate construction of houses close to rivers and streams, without creating any buffer was now creating intense risk for residents across the metropolis.
Explaining, he noted that ‘The Bekwai roundabout-Santasi road for example, has now become a danger zone anytime it rains due to the activities of car dealers who reclaimed portion of the wetland at the banks of River Suntre.
My vehicle was almost swept away by the flood when I attempted to drive on that stretch three weeks ago during a downpour’.
He said when that portion was being reclaimed, they protested through the media and drew the attention of the city authorities to the danger such projects would create for motorists and commuters, ‘but as usual , nothing was done about it’
Like Mr Amankwah, other residents are using local radio stations to draw the attention of the city authorities to act with dispatch and halt all forms of encroachment on wetlands to avert any problem in the metropolis, while others have gone to the various print media and local television houses with their complaints.
Danyame wetland threatened
The recent reclaiming of wetland adjacent the Danyame Metropolitan Assembly Basic School, off the Miklin Hotel-Santasi roundabout road, might have been the immediate cause that sparked off the pent up public agitation.
On that wetland, heaps of red soil were piling up when the Daily Graphic visited the scene, and unconfirmed reports indicate that a private land developer had been given the nod by the city authorities to build a hotel.
To create an artificial boundary between the encroached area and the school property, the developer is erecting a fence, a situation which aroused public suspicion and concern .
A local radio station reporter who went on a fact finding mission to ascertain the authenticity or otherwise of the reclaiming of the wetland at the Danyame M/A Basic School had his tyres deflated, a situation which further caused much stir in the metropolis.
Construction works at the Danyame wetland seems to have been temporarily suspended after some local radio stations raised concern, but indications are that work will resume as soon as tempers cool down.
Kaase wetland under siege
Also being reclaimed is the wetland at Kaase, close to the abandoned railway line. Like the wetland at Danyame M/A, heaps of red soil started piling up two months ago and a source told the Daily Graphic that the area had already been approved by the metropolitan authorities for a shopping mall to be constructed.
When the Daily Graphic drew the attention of the Metropolitan Engineer , Mr Alex Boateng, to the spate of rezoning wetlands to private land developers without leaving any buffer and their socio-economic effects on lives and property, he declined to comment .
He rather indicated that it was the Public Relations Officer who had been mandated to comment on such issues.
When contacted, and shown pictures of wetlands that had been rezoned in recent times, the Metropolitan Public Relations Officer, Mr Godwin Kumah Nyame, gave the assurance to contact the metropolitan engineer and give a feedback. However, constant reminders did not yield any positive response.
Similar areas where construction works were ongoing to which the public is at intense risk included the Ahensan Estate, Daban, South Suntreso, Patasi Estate, the Airport Roundabout and Asuoyeboah wetlands.
Regular monitoring of these wetlands indicate that they are being developed into residential or commercial centres without the requisite buffer or engineering works.
Projects on wetlands should have 100 meter buffer zone
When contacted, the Metropolitan Director of Town and Country Planning, Mrs Joyce Afukaar, acknowledged that such structures should not have been built in such areas.
Explaining, she said constructional works at wetlands should be carried out with a buffer zone which should be 100 meters away.
‘Any project on wetland which is less than 100 meters from rivers and streams should not be approved.
This is because they are likely to block the free flow of rivers and streams to cause flood’ she explained.
By George Ernest Asare/Daily Graphic/Ghana
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