Yesterday, we carried a story on our front page about the establishment of a Flood Early Warning System (FEWS) intended to mitigate floods in the country’s capital, Accra.
The Minister for Works and Housing, Mr. Francis Asenso-Boakye, mentioned this to the media who gathered at the Ministry of Information.
According to Minister Asenso-Boakye, the system will work by way of giving advance notices to people living in flood-prone communities, towns and cities in the capital, to enable them take precautions.
On the surface, the idea seems commendable but on hindsight this paper would really want to scrutinise how such a system can stop the perennial flooding in Accra and its surrounding environs.
We know that the Ministry is looking for several ways to put an end to the perennial flooding that has ravaged lives and properties and believe this system to be a short-term solution.
But will the role that FEWS play not be similar to that of the Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMA)? Remember the GMA exists to provide efficient and reliable meteorological information by collecting, processing, archiving, analysing and disseminating of meteorological information to end users.
Though the GMA has not worked to the expectations of Ghanaians, it has since its establishment made conscious efforts in weather predictions and the verdict on their success rate is out there. Therefore, creating the FEWS system will mean that there will be a parallel institution providing the same information. This is not value for money and a good investment with the taxpayer’s money because we might have just succeeded in creating another bureaucracy.
We believe that investing the money into the GMA to procure more modern equipment will enable it give more accurate predictions on floods and other issues.
Meanwhile, we all know that issuing warnings about floods alone will not stop the incident from happening. If that were to be so, we would not have people dying and losing properties every year. It would take dredging, construction of storm drains and good sanitary habits to enable us do away with the annual flooding.
We would rather suggest the Ministry invest more money into the Greater Accra Resilient and Integrated Development (GARID) project which is designed to implement interventions aimed at addressing flooding in the Odaw Basin of the Greater Accra Region, while it focuses on improving drainage, solid waste management and provision of services and infrastructure in flood prone areas around the basin.
We are suggesting this because the Minister indicated that the FEWS system is part of the GARID project. We have already demonstrated that the system will be performing a role similar to that of the GMA. It would, therefore, be reasonable to use the money to construct more drains and gutters.
Lastly, we would also suggest to the Ministry to enforce the laws that punish people for building on waterways and also for dumping refuse indiscriminately. We should return to the days when the Town Council taskforce worked to ensure that our communities were devoid of refuse. We believe this will go a long way to mitigate flooding in the capital and beyond.