Encroachment on wetlands, watercourses---makes parts of Tema flood-prone (June, 27, 2013, pg 71)

In spite of interventions by the Tema metropolitan Assembly (TMA)  to keep a leash on perennial flooding, some areas in the Tema Metropolis remain prone to flooding because of encroachment on wetlands and watercourses.

Recalcitrant private developers and residents have been filling vast stretches of wetlands for construction purposes.

This observation was made when officials of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) and the TMA toured flood-prone areas in the Tema metropolis to ensure adequate preparation for any floods this year.

The team's first place of call was the Accra Abattoir area where several houses have been built on lands declared uninhabitable and for wetlands purposes.

Even though two different notices of demolition had been given by the TMA for November 1, 2011 and TDC for October 5, 2011, a church and houses built on the lands have not been demolished.

When the rains carved a destructive path through the area in 2011, the Tema Metropolitan NADMO said 'we had to break part of the wall to enable the water to gush out to save the lives of the occupants.'

At Klagon, a private developer has encroached on the Ramser site and constructed a wall which impedes the movement of water that enters the Sakumono Lagoon and flows into the sea. Here, the TMA Chief Executive, Mr Robert Kempes Ofosuware, ordered the immediate demolition of the structure.

'We are bringing the wall down to make room for water to pass. Even though the law mandates us to give the owners of such structures two weeks' notice, the same law gives us discretion to demolish structures that pose a  threat to human life. This is an example as it is clearly built on a watercourse,' he said.

The MCE also  said to tackle the encroachment and restore the wetlands, a committee had been set up to map the area and take inventory of all structures that should be demolished.

The story was not different at Tema Community 5, where a swampy area had been encroached upon. Here, wooden structures and other unauthorised buildings were competing for space. Also, the turf fight between the Tema Development Corporation (TDC) and the TMA was evident.

While the TMA had marked almost all the buildings on the land for demolishing by June 10, 2013, some pillars on the land showed that the TDC had sold a portion of the land to a churchthe Mount Calvary Christian Church, with information on the pillar reading 'TDC CH/13/4' and a signpost beside it having the inscription 'Keep Off Mount Calvary Christian Church property.' That did not sit well with the NADMO National Coordinator, Mr Kofi Portuphy.

He said the operations of the TDC should be looked at again, and added, 'if people are interested in selling the lands, they must protect the people and not expose them to the hazards of the weather'.

He noted that while NADMO could only provide early warning systems, it did not have the power to demolish.

'If we are not careful, we would be creating another Sodom and Gomorrah here,' he said .
But Mr Ofosuware had an explanation. According to him, part of the area was allocated to churches when the assembly outlawed churches in classrooms.

'It appears some people are taking advantage of that to build close to the churches. We would scrutinise the documents of everybody here and evict those who don't have to be here,' he added.

Tema is  overpopulated and facing sanitation problems. This was evident from  the choked drain that ends in the sea at Tema New Town.

Industrial and human waste had choked the drain, but Mr Portuphy said NADMO would release its excavators to the assembly to desilt the drains.

He, however, urged the assembly to liaise with the companies in the area and to ensure that they process their industrial waste before discharging it into the drains.

At Shalom Spot a place at Community 18, drains constructed by the assembly had relieved the area of flooding.

But a resident, Madam Mavis Agbey, while commending the initiative, urged the assembly to construct another drain opposite the current one, since the problem was half-solved.

While applauding the various interventions put in place to arrest the floods, Mr Portuphy urged the residents not to delude themselves into thinking that the rains would not come again.

'The rains have their own pulse and can cause havoc at any time, but if we remain disciplined and do the right thing, no life would be at risk,' he added.

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