Accra Rainfloods
Accra Rainfloods

Disaster is a phenomenon that has lived with mankind for centuries.

Accra Rainfloods
Accra Rainfloods

Indeed, the human kind has no choice than to accept the fact that we are bound to face one form of disaster or another yet, with the advancement of science and technology it is becoming increasingly possible that man could reduce the impact and frequency of disasters.

It is however ironical and a bizarre to know that in the 21st century, some disasters still happen.

Ghana woke up on the 9th of May 2001 to the gruesome news of the death of about 120 people in a stadium disaster. Not only could the circumstances surrounding it could have been avoided, it turned out to be an unnecessary waste of human life. Then just last year, a common rainfall which is a seasonal occurrence, claimed scores of lives under very unreasonable and unimaginable circumstances. What is so pathetic was the burning to death of a young woman and her baby girl, an image that will always remind Ghanaians of the carnage of that day.

It only tells us that we are a nation that cannot protect our citizens. This is because if rain can cause such disasters then what would Tsunami do to us.

As we celebrate one year of the June 3rd disaster, we must reflect on some issues.

First, we must know that these are more of man-made disasters instead of natural. Our sense of understanding of our situation is normally not adequate. We fail to know our realities and how to work around it. In the first place, who authorized police officers to send tear gasses to an enclosed area like a stadium? And wasn’t it done vis-a-vis the kind of exits available at the stadium? One school of thought would have it that we didn’t have money enough to build world class stadia with dozens of exits. But another school of thought would say that if that was the case why go with tear gas.
So overnight, poverty and underdevelopment become an excuse for disasters. What therefore is the guarantee that if we develop, we would still get it right. It doesn’t need advancement to go round and check that operators of filling stations for instance,are adhering to standards. It doesn’t take wealth for police officers to know what to do under a particular circumstance. And so with all the city authorities and their rhetoric, all we get is that during a heavy down pour, underground petrol tanks leak into the rain water and spark fire that ends up consuming precious lives.

But the situation becomes compelling because, for all we know, people died because somebody took brown envelopes and failed to sanction when he or she should have sanctioned. And to make things worse not only would investigations be misconducted, the true culprits–the rich and powerful in society, who own businesses and abuse power–would go scot free.

The world has reached a stage where some of these disasters are forgotten. If they are still happening in our nation it only tells the extent of backwardness of our governments, institutions and the citizens. Whilst the advanced nations are fighting unimaginable disasters caused by typhoons, hurricanes, earthquakes and even terrorist strikes, normal rainfall is still killing us. I believe it is unnecessary to celebrate the anniversaries of disasters we could have prevented.

So long as corruption goes on in both higher and lower places, so long as we refuse to put nation first and do our duties right as citizens, we would forever encounter such disasters and the list of anniversaries of disasters would continue to grow tall.

(A GNA feature by Alexander Nyarko Yeboah)

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