June 3 : The yearly menace called water


What now after June 3?

Today is exactly one year after Ghana experienced her most destructive and tragic flood. Over 150 people died in that preventable disaster. I use the word ‘preventable’ because I believe we could have avoided this if we had just adhered to the ‘keep the city clean’ rule.

I think monotony is setting in.

‘Monotony’ because Accra sees flood every year such that it’s no longer breaking news to see a house buried in water. Who do we blame?

Do we blame the people who build in water ways or the authorities who allow illegal structures to be erected? Is it any easier to blame those who litter or maybe those who do not speak up in order to ensure that the law takes its course?

Or do we simply shift all the blame on those who have the audacity to litter and be bold enough to ask if it is your room that is being littered when they are confronted? On analysis, it seems that all the above are at fault. Let’s quit the blame game ; the damage has already been done.

So what now after June 3?

I vividly remember the chronology of events after the incident. There was media coverage which included interviews of victims and their families. Then there was the BBC debate on the Accra Floods where several brilliant ideas were suggested to curb a certain menace called water.

Water is not the enemy here; when its pathway is blocked it becomes aggressive to the extent of becoming a menace qualifying it as flood. “It’s an engineering and sanitation problem” was one of the suggestions that I heard as I sat in the auditorium amidst the debate.

Almost everyone made a contribution that day and I must admit that most of the ideas that were put forward were brilliant.

Interestingly, the mayor was awarded ‘Best mayor of Africa’ and soon after his award and the erection of his billboard, this tragedy occurred. He was interviewed several times concerning this issue and I heard him in one interview saying that “he assures Ghanaians that his demolition exercises and clearing up of the ‘Millennium City’ would not just be a nine-day-wonder”.

Quite charismatic but promises without action are empty and I am beginning to believe that this is more than just a nine-day-wonder because it’s been a year since the incident and there has been no significant change. Now where should I begin – should I start with the enthusiasm with which we were told about the ban on plastics or should I talk about the futile attempt to regulate the construction of filling stations?

The government promised to compensate the victims and their families but I was shocked to read online that as at now, several people still have to cater for their own hospital bills aside coping with the ridicule they face as victims.

I still haven’t answered the question I posed in the beginning. This is because moving on after June 3 requires more than one individual. It takes more than just talking and sharing ideas.

Definitely, it would take more than temporary enthusiasm to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Yes, enthusiasm is good but if it is unsustained then it weans of in a short while and poses a threat of a similar occurrence lurking. Clean up exercises once a month are good but if we don’t solve the problem from the origin it does not matter how many we organise ; the origin here signifies those who dispose off waste indiscriminately.

I believe there is one solution to this – we need working institutions and systems not just beautiful by-laws in books that are not enforced. People need to be made accountable for their actions(the act of littering )and inactions(not reporting someone who was involved in the act) concerning waste disposal.

My condolences to all those who were victims or who lost a loved-one during the June 3 disaster. Let’s make this memory count by keeping our city clean and ensuring the right thing is done. Almost everyone in Accra may have been to Circle at any point in time so it could have been anyone including you.

By: Naa Adzoa Adzeley Boi-Dsane