The Volta Lake and Issues

Built in Ghana, in 1965, the Volta Lake, which at one time was the largest man-made lake in the world but today, the third largest. This 148 cubic kilometer reservoir covers an area of 8,502 square kilometres (3,275 square miles).

To preserve the lake and the rivers upstream and downstream, it was recommended that a buffer zone should be created around the shores – A zone where only vegetation would be allowed to grow. Meaning, no human settlement around, even though a business, like fishing, would be allowed. I cannot remember the width of the buffer zone, but unfortunately leadership was not too interested and but for a few places, the buffer zone was not maintained.

Like other lakes in the world, the Volta Lake started to dry up and a visit to Kpando-Torkorin 2005, revealed the frightening depth, the lake had shrunk to. Many a times, the water in the lake reduces to levels that could not make generation of power effective. Whenever that happens, there is rationing of power.

It was looking obvious that maybe in the not-too-distant future the hydroelectric dam will not be functional, even though once a while, the Authority open the spill gates to reduce the volume of water in the reservoir.

This becomes necessary because should the water in the reservoir break the dam, Akosombo, Akwamufie, Atimpoku, Kpong, Akuse, Asutsuare, Battor, Mepe, Sogakope all the way to the East down to Dawa, Prampram, Dawhenya, Kpone and Tema will be wiped off. Ada in the South and areas around will also be flooded.

The disaster would record millions of deaths, and Ghana cannot contain this.

This seems not to ever happen until floods started been recorded in well developed nations like the USA, parts of Western Europe and China. Apart from the few cases of annual floods in Ghana, things looked normal, until suddenly the water in the Volta Lake started rising to frightening heights.

The Volta River Authority (VRA) seeing the eminent danger sent notices to assemblies downstream before it opened the spill gates. It made all efforts to inform the people of what could happen if all spill gates were opened and water gushes forth in volumes unimaginable.

In all its efforts, like any natural disaster, VRA could not immediately anticipate what would follow until it happened. The volume in the lake kept multiplying and communities upstream, like Dadeso, Akaten, Asakeso and others started getting flooded. Downstream had the worst share when communities like Asutsuare, Battor, Mepe, and Sogakope started getting flooded, with water levels reaching roofing levels in most cases.

The last time Ghana had something similar was during the July 1995 floods. But that cannot compare to what is happening today in parts of the Greater Accra and Volta regions.

This is a national issue, a catastrophe behold peer, and while this is going on, some people especially reporters, journalists and social media practitioners are making all sorts comments and blaming VRA, NADMO and the government for the plight of the people affected.

Some are saying this is not a natural disaster but man-made, as if to suggest that it was those in authority who filled the lake with water, and that the spill gates should not have been opened.

If the spill gates remain shut and the dam collapses as a result, all of areas downstream would be washed out in floods. There will be no community, town and city. All will be washed into the sea.

No disaster can be said to be okay, so as we must sympathise with communities and people affected by the floods, we must at the same time pray to God not to allow the worse to happen and that is the collapsing of the dam.

I only hope that after this disaster is over and calm has been restore, we will not relent on how to find solutions to this problem. Typical as we are, we only talk and come out with suggestions when problems arise. Immediately after, we go about our normal businesses until, disaster strikes again.

My suggestion for this problem is this. The buffer zone should be implemented immediately. Can I suggest that at least there should be a one-kilometre-wide buffer zone around the lake and rivers.

All small towns and villages must be relocated with new townships like Vodza, constructed beyond the zone for the inhabitants. Should any flood come again, the buffer zone will soak in the water before it gets to the communities.

Going on, funds should be acquired to construct dams and underground reservoirs to take in excess water.

While we are here, it should be put on high profile that all areas prone to flooding should mapped out and necessary laws put in place to make sure that no one interferes with these areas.

Today, whenever buildings are found to be in waterways, they are demolished. What about going after the staffs in the assemblies and the Land Commission who issue the building permits? Once those who issue such permits are penalized, this corruption will cease.

We are still in the Year of Roads, and we need to insist that deeper drainage systems are constructed and apart from storm drains, all gutters must be covered.

Assemblies must take the trouble of constructing drainages from all houses to the main gutters.

The floods must be control.

Hon. Daniel Dugan

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect The Chronicle’s stance.


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