Thursday, 4 June 2015

Those Who Died In Accra's Floods Yesterday Must Not Die In Vain

It is hard to find words to describe the feelings evoked in one, by some of the harrowing eyewitness accounts, of the horrific events that occurred during the flash floods in Accra yesterday, broadcast by Peace FM early today.

Those flash floods show how vulnerable our country has become in an era of extreme weather occasioned by global climate change. It also shows how fragile human existence actually is.

What cruel fate led so many innocent people to take shelter from the rains, at the GOIL petrol filling station adjacent to the GCB Towers building near the Kwame Nkrumah circle, only to end up being engulfed and burnt alive by a raging inferno - when the petrol filling station apparently caught fire after an explosion?

It is a fate one would not wish to befall even one's worst enemy. With the proliferation of petrol and LPG gas filling stations in residential areas in towns and cities across Ghana,  should we not be questioning the wisdom of regulatory bodies  issuing permits for building petrol and LPG gas filling stations in such areas?

If eyewitnesses spoke of smelling petrol in the flood waters before the explosion at that GOIL petrol station, where so many people lost their lives so tragically, the possibility that underground tanks in some of the many petrol filling stations in that part of Accra could be leaching petrol into the underground water table, cannot be ruled out.

In addition to any investigations carried out by the Ghana National Fire Service, at the very least - and in memory of all those who lost their lives so tragically in the fire after the explosion - there ought to be thorough inspections of all the petrol and LPG gas filling stations sited in residential areas in towns and cities countrywide.

They must all be made to strictly conform with required standards. Perhaps a law ought to be passed to make it mandatory for underground tanks in all petrol filling stations in Ghana to be double-hulled - and coated with paint, which will ensure that  they neither rust nor corrode.

The time has also come for the professionals whose job it is to ensure that people do not build on watercourses in towns and cities, to be sanctioned when they allow that to happen. Parliament must pass draconian laws to make that possible now.

The suffering caused to many families and individuals whose lives are disrupted by flooding is unbearable and everything possible must be done to prevent it.

Above all, politicians must stop playing politics with the issue of demolishing buildings blocking watercourses in our  major cities. Such demolitions of unlawfully sited buildings are flood-control measures necessary to prevent future loss of lives and destruction of  properties during heavy downpours.

We mourn all those who lost their lives as a result of the flooding in Accra and elsewhere in the country yesterday, and pray for their souls.

We share the grief of their loved ones left so painfully behind - and our hearts and prayers go out to all of them. The deaths of our departed compatriots who died in the flash floods in Accra (and elsewhere in Ghana) must not be in vain. We must all learn lessons from this painful national tragedy.
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