Quit now or perish – Government warns residents downstream Weija Dam

Victims of the spillage of the Weija Dam have been asked to evacuate the affected areas with immediate effect.

This comes as the Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMA) warns of expected heavy rainfall upstream of the Densu River in the next two weeks, with its accompanying high flows into the dam.

The Greater Accra Regional Minister, Nii Laryea Afotey-Agbo, who issued the evacuation order yesterday after flying over the area in a helicopter with some state officials and journalists, said the nation could experience unimaginable national catastrophe if the residents refused to leave in the event of another spillage.

“In their own interest, they would have to take the advice to leave seriously,” he said while briefing journalists at the Air Force Base in Accra after the tour.

The National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) said it had arranged temporary shelters in schools and churches for the victims, while some philanthropists had also promised to help in that regard.

  Humanitarian crisis
In the course of flying over the affected parts, it emerged that there is a massive humanitarian crisis at hand. 

According to the NADMO boss, Mr Kofi Portuphy, an estimated 5,000 people at Glefe, Opetekwei and Christ Mission had been displaced by the floods resulting from the spillage of the dam.

Additionally, at least 500 houses, a number of them mansions, as well as vehicles, have been submerged.

The opening of the spill gates of the dam last Tuesday was the result of the increasing volumes of water into the dam.

The Weija Dam sits on the Densu River and heavy rainfall within the Atiwa Mountains in the Eastern Region usually leads to a rise in the water level of the dam.

But, according to officials, what happened last Tuesday was the first time such large-scale spillage had occurred.

  No building permit
Giving further details of the development, the regional minister said he was very sure none of the developers had a building permit.

He cautioned against the flouting of building regulations, saying the end result was always unfavourable.

In an answer to a question on the possible demolition of buildings in the areas, he said that was not on the cards immediately.

Nii Afotey-Agbo stated that the flooding minimised a bit yesterday after the dredging of the Densu Estuary, but he was quick to add that predictions were not favourable in the coming days.

According to him, the dredging was not undertaken on a silver platter, as security officials encountered stiff opposition from some residents due to their religious beliefs.

“I am a Ga and I know what to do with regard to rituals,” he said, adding that he sought the intervention of some respected chiefs in Accra but the people would not budge and rather made an attempt to attack the security personnel and dredging workers.

He stated that the National Security was brought in before the de-silting could be done in the early hours of yesterday.

Speaking on efforts being made to bring some measure of relief to victims, Mr Portuphy said NADMO had sent supplies to areas cut off by the floods.

He said tankers had been supplying water to the people, while items such as buckets and mosquito nets were also made available to them.

The Director-General of the GMA, Group Captain Stephen Komla (retd), said the rainy season had peaked and as a result safety measures must be adopted.

He explained that after the expected two weeks of heavy rains, there would be a short break before the minor rainy season would begin.

  GWCL boss
The Managing Director of the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), Mr K.G. Dovlo, said the company was monitoring the situation to see what to do next.

He explained that if the rains continued as predicted, the spillways would have to be opened again.

He said about two weeks ago, the residents were alerted to the rise in the water level and the possibility of opening the spillways.

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