Sydney Abugri Writing and Editing Services

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I love the sound of falling rain, Jomo.  It soothes the ear and calms the soul. Rain cools the atmosphere and rids it of dust, airborne disease germs and other lethal and health-threatening atmospheric pollutants. When the heat and dust of the dry season become unbearable, we usually cannot wait to see the torrents come cascading down again, but as every resident of the Ghanaian capital Accra now knows, there is always a big catch:

Nearly every rainy season comes with the ever recurring problem of floods, a problem that has been attributed variously to a poor drainage system, the ugly waste disposal habits of city residents who have made a pastime of heaping solid waste into drains, buildings standing in the way of flood waters and the incompetence of city engineers who appear unable to stand away from the problem, survey it form a distance with a critical eye and proceed to fix it.

Yet as we have already noted, there is often no solace to be found in the dry season either: At the very peak of the dry season, the heat often mercilessly roasts the capital, sets the Atlantic on the boil and threatens to barbecue its nearly three million inhabitants to death.

The problem with flooding in Accra will remain as dicey as city engineering problems ever get, old chap: Nearly every water source and course from upstream in Ghana is bound for the coast. As if that were not enough, Accra lies on low land. To cap it all, flouting building regulations and building property on water ways and choking all available drains with every discarded solid with a name is now a way of metropolitan life.

The tragic explosion of the GOIL fuel station on June 3 when the heavens had opened up on the city has naturally magnified the scale of this year’s torrent-triggered floods, otherwise it may not have been any more severe than some os previous ones.

Long before anyone ever heard of Mayor Okoe Vanderpuije { poor man, what will he do now?} the floods had plagued Accra with an unrelenting seasonal vengeance.

While a regional correspondent for the Daily Graphic in the early 1990s, I arrived from my duty post up on the Savanna and booked into a hotel at Kwame Nkrumah Circle close to the former Lido club on a night, see?

While I was sleeping like a baby on account of sheer fatigue from the gruelling trip on rough and rugged highways from Savannah to coast cascading torrents all but washed Accra straight into the Atlantic.

I woke up in the morning to the sounds of loud banging of indeterminate objects, whooshing, scraping, clanging sounds downstairs and on the stair way.

I opened the door and Holy Moses, lodgers from rooms on the ground and floors all looing as wet as guinea fowls drenched in rain, were coming up from ground floors, dragging bags and suitcases. Looked out of the widow and there was water everywhere with some of it almost up to the window sill.

To say that it was scary is an understatement, Jomo. Fortunately, by morning the torrents had slowed to a drizzle and water began to subside.

The ravages of the 1995 floods have remained one of the most devastating to date. Buses and taxis were nowhere to be seen and  long files of people trekked all day through mud, slime, debris and filth, in all manner of shoes and sandals across the city on the day of that disaster. I recall one tragic yet morbidly comic scenes played which played during the flooding:

Pedestrians walking through flood waters at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle stared in horror at the sight of a sofa floating down the huge drain from Alajo to Circle with a dead, middle-aged man sitting in it!

It is bad enough not being able to take effective measures ahead of annual rains to minimize the effects of heavy rains in a city with a poor drainage system but it is even worse not making adequate plans to cope with the aftermath of floods:

The homelessness of the displaced, the poorly constructed, shoddily asphalted roads that have been washed away and the monstrous, gaping chasms called potholes, that will riddle what is left of the asphalted road surfaces like bombed out tracks in a war zone!

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