A former Metropolitan Chief Executive of Kumasi, Mr Samuel Sarpong, was once quoted by the Ghanaian Chronicle newspaper as saying that the Kumasi metropolis, unlike Accra, is very safe from flooding.
“It is impossible to experience flooding in Kumasi,” the Mayor declared in response to an inquiry by the host of Hello FM’s Akokoabon talk show on a Saturday, about the state of readiness of the KMA for the rains.
According to the then mayor, residents of the metropolis needed not to entertain any fears because the KMA had put measures in place to contain the situation.
According to him, while Accra was about to construct storm drains, Kumasi had already constructed them, and that no matter the volume of rain, the flow of water had been made easier to prevent flooding.
The assertion cannot be wholly true. Though the magnitude of flooding in Accra may be higher than that of Kumasi, the city can still be said to be flood-prone.
For the past few years, the rainy season has come with unpleasant consequences for many residents of Kumasi.
Torrential rains have brought collateral damage upon lives and properties in the city and many are wondering what the future holds for Ghana’s second biggest city.
I had been witness to how people groaned under the devastating effects of floods. Lives were lost. People lost properties and living conditions became unbearable for surviving victims.
It appears this year is going to record the same story, as meteorological agencies have warned people living in flood prone areas to evacuate.
Just about two weeks ago, a couple at the Asuoyeboa suburb of Kumasi lost their two children ,aged 5 and 9, after heavy rains saw a river near their house overflow its banks, sweeping through their room.
It was a sad event and a reminder to all those living in such areas of the dangers ahead as more rains are expected to come in torrents in due course.
In other areas such as Atonsu and Ahensan, heavy downpours have in several instances led to the flooding of River Sesan. When this occurs, people are unable to sleep in their homes for days.
In the past, flooding used to be alien to Kumasi. The city which used to be well-planned has now lost some of its beauty and haphazard development has led to several unplanned areas to spring up.
People have built close to streams, rivers and big gutters, seriously endangering the lives of residents of those areas.
A number of areas, which have been reserved as wetlands, have been illegally inhabited by people.
The dumping of refuse inside primary and secondary drainage channels have also contributed to the flooding.
Many are concerned about the alarming rate at which indiscipline has risen in Kumasi, to the extent that the one-time Garden City has lost a good chunk of its beauty through self-destruction.
The unproductive practice, where we have to wait for the rains to cause disasters before the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) is called in to supply plastic cups, student mattresses and blankets must be stopped.
NADMO itself has confessed facing challenges as simple relief items are difficult to come by.
The best solution is preventive measures being put in place and this is where the KMA must sit up and act decisively.
In the past, the KMA had attempted demolishing unauthorised buildings sited in waterways but stopped few days after the exercise had taken off.
Concerned people are raising questions as to why the KMA should allow such developments to go on without acting to stop them, only for them to turn round to demolish them later after they are inhabited.
In Africa some countries are taking proactive measures to prevent flood disasters in their cities, but the situation appears the opposite in Ghana.
One of such laudable measures in 2012 resulted in the successful relocation of some 6,000 families in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, from flood-prone areas of the city.
The authorities of that country gave each family $300 dollars to relocate, a development that contributed in saving precious lives.
However, in this country, the ‘no money’ syndrome would surely stop the authorities from going along that path.
Nonetheless, there are other measures the assembly can take to correct the wrongs of the past, and on that score the expertise of the city engineers must come to bear.
We need to abide strictly by the building code. Allocation of lands in Kumasi is done by the traditional authorities, who owe the lands, but the laws demand that one can only build when given the permit by the city authorities.
If this bye-law is strictly enforced, it will help curtail the perennial flooding in parts of the city.
The KMA must also ensure that choked gutters are removed to ensure the free flow of rain water.
The new metro chief executive, Mr Kojo Bonsu, has promised to change the downward trend of the city’s development and all are waiting to see him live up to the task.
Source: Daily Graphic