If there’s one thing that has survived the test of time and has been very consistent throughout history, it’s flooding. The nations capital, Accra floods year in year out wrecking damages to many lives and properties. This situation dates far back as 1960 and has been recurrent for 62 years.
Why there’s no permanent solution to this menacing situation is a question largely for the leaders.
Indeed the cause of flooding in Accra is hydra headed but the sheer lack of political will, poor leadership and engineering works in flood prone areas are the major cause.
Below are some reports from Daily Graphic across history.
July 4, 1968
Accra records heaviest rainfall in 9 years
Accra registered a record rainfall of five inches in the last nine years.
A spokesman for the Meteorological Services said the heaviest rain ever recorded in the city fell in June 1959, when a volume of 7.56 inches was registered. The rain nearly brought normal life in the city to a standstill, with offices and shops closed and schoolchildren taking a French leave.
June 29, 1971
Houses collapse in the Twin-City
The twin-city of Sekondi-Takoradi saw one of the worst floods in Ghana in recent years following a downpour which started at night. Several hundreds of dwelling houses collapsed, rendering thousands of people homeless.
July 5, 1995
Rains which started at midnight caused flooding by morning in low areas of the Accra metropolis. The flood not only affected commuters and vehicles but also the Achimota VRA substation, resulting in power cuts.
June 13, 1997
Hours of intermittent downpour for two days in Accra caused floods which threatened to cut communication in various parts of the city.
Some roads in the metropolis were affected, making it difficult for motorists to ply them.
Major rivers such as the Odaw and Onyasia appeared on the brink of breaking their banks, forcing some residents to desert their homes for higher and safer grounds.
The water in these rivers rose steadily when the rain started about 3 p.m., raising fears of a possible flood disaster as happened on July 4, 1995 and claimed lives and property.
In 1999, floods swept through the Upper West the Upper East and the Northern regions, as well as the northern parts of the Brong Ahafo and the Volta regions.
Three hundred thousand people were affected.
June 28, 2001
It is the worst in Accra since July 4, 1995
An early morning downpour submerged portions of the city, with many houses and structures at Madina, Achimota, Dzorwulu, Avenor, Santa Maria and Adabraka Official Town being affected. Residents of the affected areas who were trapped by the flood waters had to climb to safety on trees and rooftops until they were rescued or the flood waters subsided.
In 2007, floods hit the Upper West, Upper East and Northern Regions. Three hundred and seven thousand, one hundred and twenty-seven people were affected.
May 5, 2010
Rains cause havoc
In Central Accra, Ofankor and Begoro
The country’s capital city’s vulnerability to floods manifested when parts of the city and its streets were deeply submerged in water after two hours of stormy rains.
June 22, 2010
Nation’s worst flood disaster
Death toll 35
Thirty-five bodies were retrieved from flood waters across the country by volunteers and rescue workers who described the havoc after the rains as the worst flood disaster in Ghana’s recent history.
June 24, 2010
Swedru cut off by floods
Three bridges connecting the Agona Swedru municipality to neighbouring communities collapsed as a result of the flooding.
June 26, 2010
NADMO registers 3,000 flood victims in Agona Swedru
At least 3,000 people were registered by officials of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) as victims of floods in the Agona West municipality in the Central Region.
October 14, 2010
Floods displace 161,000 nationwide
One hundred and sixty-one thousand people were displaced across the country as a result of flooding during torrential rains and the opening of the Bagre Dam in Burkina Faso.
October 18, 2010
Floods submerge 55 communities
Fifty-five communities in the Central Gonja District in the Northern Region, including parts of the district capital, Buipe, were submerged by flood waters following the overflow of the Volta Lake.
November 2, 2010
Floods cause havoc in Afram Plains
Two thousand and eight hundred people in 120 villages and towns along the Volta Lake in the Kwahu East, Kwahu South and Kwahu North districts in the Eastern Region were rendered homeless by floods.
The floods also destroyed 850 buildings, farms, markets and roads.
February 24, 2011
Heavy rains cause havoc in Accra
A downpour wreaked extensive havoc on property in most parts of Accra and some of its surrounding communities.
The property of residents of areas such as Adabraka, Kisseman, Alajo Junction, A-Lang at Santa Maria, Oyarifa, Haatso, Adenta and the Tema Timber Market were either submerged or washed away.
According to an official of the Meteorological Services Agency, Ms Felicity Ahasianyo, the rainfall, which began from 9.30 p.m. to almost 3 a.m., measured 71.5 mm, which she described as quite heavy.
July 20, 2011
Heavy floods in Atiwa District
Farmers stranded for 3 days
About 10 hours of torrential rain left 105 farmers stranded on farms at Akyem Osoroase Krobomu in the Atiwa District in the Eastern Region.
July 25, 2011
Floods kill 5 at Atiwa, cause damage in other areas
Five persons drowned after rains which caused floods in the Atiwa District in the Eastern Region.
November 1, 2011
43,000 displaced by Accra floods…14 deaths recorded
The death toll in Accra rose to 14, while 43,087 people were said to have been affected by the downpour, officials of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) said.
May 31, 2013
Morning downpour causes floods in Accra
Heavy rains caused flooding in some parts of Accra. The rains, which started in some areas around 4.30 a.m., flooded areas such as the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, Darkuman Kokompe, the Obetsebi Lamptey Circle and portions of the Graphic Road, Santa Maria and the Dansoman Roundabout.
June 6, 2014
Deluge hits Accra, more rains predicted
Accra’s poor planning was exposed when a deluge hit the national capital after more than10 hours of downpour.
The heavy rains caused flooding in the city and its environs, including Adabraka, Awoshie, the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, Mallam, North Kaneshie, Abeka, Dansoman and Odorkor.
July 4, 2014
Heavy rains leave havoc in trail
Heavy rains resulted in havoc, with the worst hit areas in Accra such as Anyaa, Taifa, Dome, Nii Boi Town, Dansoman, some parts of Kaneshie, Adabraka, Awoshie, the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, Mallam, Abeka, Dansoman and Odorkor submerged.
Destruction caused by floods:
On a typical rainy day, when people should merely be concerned about getting to their respective destinations and enjoying the cool weather, it is different in Accra-Ghana.
People have to worry about driving through the flooded roads to get home or avoid being carried away by the water by parking till they recede.
Not to talk of the owners and occupants of the various homes that have to worry about salvaging their properties because the floodwaters will gush into their homes and destroy same.
As for catching some sleep throughout the night after a rainy day, it’s next to impossible for families who live in areas mostly affected by floodwaters.
Floods at Adabraka after Monday night’s downpour
Let’s go back a little in time to take a look at some of the major losses the country has made as far as lives and properties are concerned on some occasions when it rained heavily in Accra.
June 3 flood and fire disaster:
It was and remains one of Ghana’s biggest disasters. On the night of June 3, 2015, several lives, over 250 were lost and many others sustained major life-threatening injuries and lifetime scars after floods took over the Kwame Nkrumah Circle coupled with a gas/fire explosion.
Military couple die in flood:
A military man S/Sgt Arthur Jabez, 45 and his wife WO Sarah Kuadzi died after a heavy downpour on Sunday, April 14, 2019. The two were travelling in a military pick up from a funeral in Tema when their vehicle got caught in the floodwaters at Adjei-Kojo on the Tema Motorway.
The couple was in a car with an 11-month-old baby and another passenger.
Newly constructed railway washed away by floodwaters at Achimota:
On June 9, 2020, portions of a railway line laid by the Ghana Railway Company Ltd. at Achimota were washed off its tracks by floodwaters and had to be re-engineered.
Flash Floods leave 3 dead in Greater Accra:
This was a headline from the DailyGraphic after a downpour on Monday, June 19, 2018, left some 3 persons dead. NADMO reported after the floods that a female doctor, a 2-month-old baby girl and a 40-year-old man died from drowning after the rains swept through parts of the capital.
Very disturbing events and these have been caused by factors such as cracks in policymaking and enforcement, negligence, inadequate and improper drainage systems and attitudes.
Why floods persist:
Ghanaians have complained over and over again about the government’s role in sanitizing the capital and indeed their complaints are not misplaced.
There are a number of things creating the problem of flooding and sustaining it and the biggest of them all is plastic waste or non-biodegradable plastics.
According to the Global Plastic Action Partnership, Ghana generates around 1.1 million tons of plastic waste per year and out of this, only 5% is collected for recycling.
This summarises how big a problem this is for the country and as far as floods is concerned. Despite the large quantities of plastic waste spewed out annually, there is very little way of controlling this.
Non-biodegradable plastics have been identified by the United Nations as one of the world’s biggest environmental challenges.
The probable solution which is banning plastic waste and using less environmentally harmful materials like wood, ceramics, and fibre among others, has largely been ruled out by successive governments in the country.
The Ghanaian government contemplated banning certain kinds of plastic usage in 2015 as a means of addressing the challenges of plastic waste but this has since not been fully implemented and the plastic waste challenge continues.
In 2019 for instance, Prof. Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, Minister for Environment, Science and Technology said banning plastics will not be in the best interest of Ghana because of the dependence by citizens on it.
His proposal was the management of these plastic products.
Days ago, on May 4, 2022, Dr Kwaku Afriyie, Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation during a press conference also disclosed that the government will not ban the use of plastics in the country. Rather he said, the government will look for new and sustainable ways to protect the environment.
The issue though is that, so long as plastics remain in the system, pollution will exist, the water system will malfunction and drainage systems will be clogged. As long as drainages are clogged, floods will remain.
Littering and attitudes of citizens:
The attitudes of Ghanaians will remain a big factor that will continuously cause floods in Accra until there is a change.
There are many reasons why the point is raised about attitude and this is the argument –
The heaps of rubbish that emerge on our roads and in homes after the rains is enough evidence that littering is one reason we still have floods.
People dump rubbish anyhow, anywhere, at any time. Drains are filled with debris and are mostly choked by same. These same drains that are supposed to serve as waterways to allow for free flow of water when it rains are choked and water stays and builds up when it cannot flow freely when it rains, the result? – FLOODS.
The government has advised, public education is done but really, the attitudes remain and so will the floods.
Every year, the Odawna lagoon has to be dredged to make space for water. A visit to the place will give you a summary of the filth situation in the capital.
Some may argue that drainage systems are not enough, or that there needs to be an expansion or better still, the engineering work was not done well.
That is an undeniable fact that cannot be underplayed but the fact still remains that until the attitudes of Ghanaians are fixed, nothing really will change. The rains will come, the drains will remain choked, floods will occur, roads will be taken over, and homes will be flooded.
Disposal of waste or waste management:
From persons employed to desilt drainage systems in various parts of the capital, to waste trucks, to the government, the issue is how waste is disposed of. Now it is common to see these tricycles, visiting some areas in the country to pick up rubbish.
How are these disposed of? For the most part, some of these are not well covered and end up on the roads whilst they drive to the dumpsites.
Even with dumpsites, how is the filth eventually gotten rid of? They only pile up for years. They ultimately end up being washed away by floodwaters sometimes and are added to the entire drainage problem.
What can be done:
Solutions can be clearly outlined indicating proposed measures from the government, Members of Parliament and some citizens alike but let’s keep it real and brief – this is what we need if floods are going to reduce significantly – Government needs to take drastic decisions to deal with the plastic waste situation in Ghana once and for all.
Authorities need to sit up and fix the drainage issues.
And Ghanaians need to WAKE UP! And quit the indiscipline. Littering may seem rather insignificant but until the floodwaters get into your room or hurt a loved one, you will not see the need to quit.