Ghanaians are marking a year since over hundred people died in a fire and floods in the capital Accra. Twelve months later, survivors are worried about a potential recurrence due to poor drainage systems.
On June 3, 2015, an explosion at a gas station in Ghana's capital Accra and flooding caused by heavy rains killed an estimated 150 people. The heavy rains occur every year, yet until the disaster, city authorities had done little to address the problem. Twelve months later, residents of Accra live in fear that this year's rains could bring further floods.
Jerry Buckman, 31, is one of the victims of last year's floods. Two of his relatives perished last year and his family home was engulfed by fire. Buckman says he is scared every time it starts to rain. "Sometimes I have to stop my work and go back home, when it starts to rain," he said.
Simon Korang, 23, is another survivor. During the flooding his family lost their property. His mother is unable to find work and he has dropped out of school. "The tragedy has affected us in different ways. My mum can no longer afford my school fees," Korang said.
As the rains begin to pour, Accra residents like Buckman, are becoming uncomfortable as they once again witness flooding in parts of the capital due to poor drainage systems. "When you come to this area, just look into the gutters, they are choked and when it rains the water can't flow well," Buckman said.
No concrete actions
One year on, nothing much has been done to minimize the harm. Gutters are blocked even in the areas that were affected last year.
Ghana's president John Mahama gave an order to have all structures obstructing water ways pulled down. Even flling stations situated in unauthorized places were to be removed. But it appears that city authorities are struggling to enforce this directive to avert another disaster. The mayor of Accra, Alfred Oko Vanderpuije, however, said his office has done some work. "There was a pile of refuse collected, now you can see clean water," Oko said. "They are doing maintenance and then after, they will go into the water and dredge from upstream," he added.
As the country marks a year after the deadly disaster, Accra residents have called on the authorities to do more to minimize the flooding. The city, however, has a huge task to mobilize the needed funds to construct proper drains.