Aftermath of the floods: Ama, Zoomlion call for attitudinal change

The Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) and Zoomlion Ghana Limited, a waste management company, have warned that Accra will continue to experience flooding if the residents do not change their attitude towards sanitation in the city.

Commenting on last Friday’s flood in Accra, following a heavy downpour, the Chief Executive Officer of AMA, Mr Alfred Okoe Vanderpujie, said although the AMA would continue to remove silt from the drains within the metropolis to prevent flooding in future, the bottom line was that  residents should change their poor attitude to sanitation.

“We will continue to clear the drains of silt and educate the public on the dangers of dumping refuse into open drains,” he said.

Mr Vanderpujie said the Public Health Department of the assembly would also be vigilant and arrest individuals who breached the bye-laws onsanitation within the metropolis.

He expressed the hope that the implementation of the Accra sanitation sewer and storm water drainage alleviation project to construct storm drains would help to reduce flooding in the national capital.

Sharing his perspectives on sanitation in Accra in the aftermath of last Friday’s floods, the Communications Manager of Zoomlion Ghana Limited, Mr Robert Coleman, said it was unpardonable that the government would spend huge sums to clear the drains of silt and clear rubbish from the metropolis “only for citizens to religiously dump waste into open drains that have been cleared”.

“I find it very difficult to believe that even after several drains have been cleared of silt by the AMA, especially the primary drains, and Zoomlion clearing over 400 secondary drains, Accra is still flooded in an hour of rainfall,” he said.

Explaining further, Mr Vanderpujie said the assembly was currently awaiting the necessary work to be done by the Ministry of Finance for Ghana to access $595 million loan from the Export-Import Bank (EXIM) of the United States of America (USA) for the execution of the sanitation and storm water project.

When completed, he said, the project would eliminate Accra’s flood situation.

The project involves, among other things, clearing of silt, dredging new siltation ponds, and the removal of rubbish from the Odaw drains and the Korle Lagoon. 

Mr Coleman said during visit to the flooded areas after the rainfall, a team from his company found that revealed that heaps of rubbish had choked the gutters, blocking the free flow of water.

He, therefore, suggested that an immediate directive must be given by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development for the establishment of a sanitation court in every sub-metro.

“The ministry should make it mandatory for every district or municipal assembly to have a sanitation court that will prosecute residents who abuse the environment,” he said.

Unpardonable offence
Mr Coleman said the sanitation courts  would also generate funds internally for the government to continue to carry out its agenda on the management of waste.

“Now that the drains are choked, where are we going to get the money to desilt the drains? But if we are able to prosecute offenders, the money generated can be directed into such activities,” he added.

Sanitation laws
On sanitation laws,  Mr Coleman said it was high time the laws were amended “to bite instead of barking”.

“The bye-laws now do not serve as a deterrent to others. How can you fine someone GH¢3 for flouting the law when you can fine the individual GH¢100 or more to let them know the seriousness of the offence they have committed?” 

He also called on all religious leaders to preach about sanitation to their congregation at all times.

Last Friday, some parts of Accra were plunged into flooding after nearly an hour of torrential rain.

While a number of streets were submerged by the flood, companies, including the New Times Corporation, publishers of the Ghanaian Times and  the Weekly Spectator; the Metro Mass Transit, the Odawna Clinic, auto shops along the Graphic Road, and some homes were flooded and their occupants had to be evacuated.

The situation also brought activities in the metropolis to a halt as vehicular traffic was intense and commuters had to walk long distances to catch vehicles to their various destinations.

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