Editorial: What has Ghana learnt from Turkey and Morocco earthquakes?

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, according to a BBC report, has revealed that his country will spend $11.6bn to rebuild the regions destroyed by the September 8, 2023 earthquake. The funds will also be used to support the more than 4.2 million people in the provinces most impacted by the earthquake. The Palace, on Wednesday, said that the funds would be used to “re-house affected people, reconstruct homes and restore infrastructure” over a five-year period.

It will be recalled that the 6.8 magnitude earthquake, the strongest to hit Morocco in more than 60 years, killed more than 2,900 people and injured over 5,000 others. The earthquake also destroyed infrastructure and more than 50,000 homes in the High Atlas Mountains. So far, Morocco has received $700m in donations to help with its earthquake recovery plan. The country plans to make up the deficit using funds allocated by the Moroccan government, international aid and continued donations to the earthquake recovery fund.

Already, President Akufo-Addo, using one of the platforms offered him in New York, USA, conveyed his personal sympathy and that of his government and the people of Ghana to his   Moroccan counterpart for the tragedy that struck the North African country. Though Ghana also experienced an earthquake as far back as 1939 when the country was still under colonial rule, the magnitude was not as big as what happened in Morocco, and earlier in Turkey and Syria.

But does it mean we should sit down and fold our arms because these kinds of disasters can never happen in Ghana? We will be living in a fool’s paradise if this is our mentality. As a country, we should start putting measures in place so that should this natural disaster happen in our motherland, the effect will be minimal. As earlier indicated, Morocco is going to spend about $11.6bn to rebuild the Provinces devastated by the earthquake.

Turkey, which had earlier suffered a similar fate, according to a report published by the Turkish Enterprise and Business Confederation, is going to spend a whopping $84.1 billion in its reconstruction. May God perish our thought, but should this happen in Ghana, how or where are we going to raise these huge sums of money for reconstruction?

This is the reason why we suggested that measures be put in place to minimise its impact should we experience it in future. One of these measures we are proposing is building code. Because it is not the state, but rather individuals, families and stools that are selling lands in Ghana, we are building haphazardly without following due procedure of town and country planning.

Though an earthquake of the magnitude witnessed in Morocco has not struck modern Ghana, the way and manner buildings are collapsing, especially in Accra and Kumasi, leaves much to be desired. Instead of contracting experts to build for them, land developers are rather hiring roadside masons to just dig out the laterite, pour concrete cement mixture in the ground and purport to start construction of buildings.

No test is done to determine if the soil is good to sustain the building – all what they are interested in is the pouring of  the concrete mixtures into the ground and start laying the blocks, in most of the cases, within one or two days. Again, God perish our thought, but should an earthquake strike, how can these buildings withstand the pressure without caving in?

The Chronicle is, therefore, appealing to the Metropolitan, Municipal and District assemblies to pay attention to how buildings are constructed in their respective jurisdictions, to ensure that developers strictly adhere to the building procedures.

Most buildings that are collapsing in Accra, in particular, are not those constructed by the well established companies, but those of individuals who are apparently not following the proper procedures. Ghana’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP) is not even up to $60bn, but a country is going to spend as much as $84bn on reconstruction.

Since we simply do not have these kinds of resources, the right things must be done now to save the country in future. We are not trying to frighten the people, but it is too dangerous for a country that has been experiencing earth tremors to sit idle without preparing itself for any future disaster.


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