The rainy season is with us again, and as usual it would lead to flooding and the resultant destruction of life and property in the Tamale metropolis.
It baffles me why this perennial occurrence is allowed to continue without any effort by the people or the city authorities to bring it to an end. Each year, homes, stores, schools and offices are destroyed and other valuable properties are washed away by flood waters.
What is even more disheartening is how some residents continue to dump garbage and sand into the city’s well-designed drains, thereby obstructing the free flow of water. This blatant show of indiscipline and flouting of the assembly’s by-laws have contributed significantly to the recurrent flooding of parts of Tamale.
Take the Central Business District for instance, where traders in the nearby markets dump all manner of waste into the drains whilst city guards and revenue collectors watch unconcerned.
Other causes of this perennial flood include the construction of unauthorized structures on water courses, the use of low quality building materials and the failure by some residents to plant trees around their surroundings to serve as wind breaks during storms.
Unfortunately, the spirit of communal labour has died down completely, at least in Tamale where I reside, as a result of government’s engagement of waste management companies, and so these choked gutters are left unattended to by residents.
Meanwhile, a few individuals who cultivated the habit of volunteering to clean choked gutters and clear rubbish from the surroundings have equally stopped doing this because some of them have been downgraded by the same people they are helping. Some have even been given degrading nicknames and this has discouraged them from continuing to volunteer their services.
According to authorities of the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly (TaMA), the Department of Urban Roads had on a number of occasions awarded on contract the emptying of major drains in the city, but residents continue to dump waste materials and gravel into these drains and gutters, thereby stalling progress.
In past few years, hundreds of houses have collapsed due to floods. Some persons who were affected by these floods are still counting their losses and as the rains set in, they are harbouring fears of another flood disaster that may worsen their plight.
As the old adage goes: ‘‘the memory of death is a warning to the living.” Already, the warning signs are clear. The Gushegu district, for instance, had its share of torrential rains early this year resulting in the displacement of over 1000 people and destruction of properties worth thousands of cedis.
It took the intervention of the government, through the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) and the district assemblies, and some charitable organizations to ease the plight of these people through the provision of mattresses, drugs and food aid, among others.
I hope the TaMA is not waiting for similar disasters to occur in Tamale. I have not seen any positive signs of preventive measures, but only time will tell.
What the various Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies (MMDAs) need to do this time round is to embark on massive educational campaigns through the various radio stations on the importance of practicing sanitation and strict compliance with the assembly’s by-laws.
Also, there is the need for city authorities to construct more storm drains, especially at flood prone low land areas, to improve flood control and sanitation in the metropolis.
A stitch in time saves nine.