There have been so many thoughts running through my mind that, getting the sanity to sit and write this article have been proving a difficult task to accomplish. Since last week, June 3; my perspective on life as a Ghanaian citizen living in Accra has changed drastically. Why? Maybe, I was severely affected by the floods, maybe the scenes and stories of people who lost their lives in the twin disaster has been so horrifying, maybe I have been so disappointed at the institutions and systems in Ghana, maybe; just maybe…..

Today marks exactly a week since, Ghana and specifically Accra, was shaken out of it’s normalcy to a twin disaster of flood and an inferno. Over 150 lives were perished, several properties amounting to millions of cedis were destroyed and thousands of citizens have been rendered homeless and traumatized. I can count my own family to the latter. However, as we count our lost as a country, with a memorial service being held for the victims who lost their lives; this is the perfect time to reflect on our actions/in-actions that resulted in the disaster that was preventable.

Some flooded streets in Accra

Some flooded streets in Accra

 

Another unfortunate situation that must be addressed, is the indiscriminate way most citizens in Accra have taken advantage of the open- drainage system in the city and turned it into a refuse dump. Most gutters and drainage system in Accra before the floods, were choked with plastic waste and sand; blocking the free flow of liquid waste and water that it is suppose to carry. I once had an encounter with one grown man, who took advantage of the fact that it was raining to dump a whole sack of refuse into a gutter in front of a shop where I with a group of other people were seeking shelter from the rains. I was surprised when no one, took the right step to prevent the man from his indiscriminate act . I then volunteered to do so and the man who had no iota of shame, got the impetus to insult me; with no one coming to my defend.  Too sad, most of Ghana’s laws especially on sanitation have been reduced to a toothless written document in a book.

some horrifying aftermath of the disaster

some horrifying aftermath of the disaster

One other issue that needs mentioning, is the way filling stations have been erected just anywhere in the city. A 15 minutes walk on some major roads in the city, and one will count not less than two filling stations on that particular stretch. Most residences, have now been pulled down to construct filling stations, which seems to be the popular business in the country in these recent times. The inferno that accompanied last Wednesday’s floods, razed down a filling station killing more than 150 people who were seeking shelter in and around the filling station located in a busy area in Accra. The floods led to the leaking of petrol on the surface of the water which caught fire somewhere and exploded the filling station. Just a day or two after this regrettable disaster, the country is now witnessing the closing down of some filling stations that were apparently operating without permit and/or are in bad shape and are a disaster in waiting. Should  laws like this be drastically enforced after havoc has been caused?

The explosion of the filling station

The explosion of the filling station

Ghana should be up and doing. Wednesday, June 3, 2015; should be a wake- up call. Lot of havoc have been caused, lives that can never be ever again, properties that can not be retrieved and the trauma that will take a long time to leave. Despite all these, we as a people have great lessons to learn and the best tribute we can pay to the lives lost due to our collective negligence; is to repent and plan effectively for the future.  Government, institutions and departments tasked with the duties to make and enforce laws in order to protect lives and properties as well as to make citizens located everywhere in the country to live in peace and dignity; must do their work well. They must be made accountable to the mandate they serve. Citizens must be gate- keepers at the grass-root, to live by the laws and to keep authorities on their toes. Natural disasters are natural yet we as humans, play our parts to ensure the extent to which we are affected by natural occurrences such as heavy rainfalls.

Dorcas Tiwaa Addai

Dorcas Tiwaa Addai

Dorcas Tiwaa Addai, BA, is a writer, blogger, volunteer, MUNer and a youth activist. I am passionate about women empowerment, youth development, other human rights issues and International relations and Diplomacy. Currently, I ‘m a volunteer with African Rights Initiative International (ARII) and an intern with UN Refugee Agency.