Thursday, April 18

Mepe Development Association takes on NAPO over comments on Akosombo Dam spillage

The Mepe Development Association has condemned the Minister of Energy’s comments when he appeared before Parliament on Wednesday, November 8, to provide an update on the spillage of the Akosombo Dam.

Matthew Opoku Prempeh defended the Volta River Authority (VRA) during his briefing of Parliament on the happenings surrounding the spillage of the dam and its attendant devastations, as well as the measures being taken by the government to provide relief for the affected people.

A day after the Minister’s appearance, the Mepe Development Association, in a statement, condemned the Minister’s utterances and called them appalling and unapologetic.

The Energy Minister defended that the VRA conducted simulation exercises prior to the spillage and told Parliament that the spillage of the dam was necessary to prevent catastrophic consequences.

But the angry Mepe Development Association has called on the public to disregard such comments.

“The MDA calls on all to reject the claim by the minister that a simulation exercise was done by the VRA in Mepe with the participation of 57 people before the spillage. Granted that this claim is even true, what is that so-called simulation supposed to do for a community of over 16,000 people? Which stakeholders were engaged in that exercise and how was that information disseminated?”

Below is the full statement of the Mepe Development Association

Press Release

Re: Energy Minister’s Tour, Briefing in Parliament

The Mepe Development Association (MDA) is appalled by the poor submission and several misrepresentations contained in the statement read by the Minister of Energy, Matthew Opoku Prempeh, MP on the floor of Parliament yesterday.

As the sector minister in charge of the Volta River Authority (VRA) that superintended over the poor management of the flood disaster, one would have expected him to apologise to the affected communities for his failure to provide the needed oversight responsibility to effectively manage the pre- and post-spillage interventions.

Since the spillage by the Akosombo and Kpong Dams began on 15th September 2023 which occasioned the destruction of homes, businesses and properties from 26th September, Mr. Opoku- Prempeh had never visited any of the affected communities to assess the impact of the devastation of the flood disaster.

Less than 24 hours before his appearance before parliament on 8th November 2023, he rushed down to the North and Central Tongu District Assemblies in a hurriedly arranged meeting for media optics without adequate notice to key stakeholders. The submerging of businesses and homes in Mepe by the spillage started on 26th September 2023 and the Minister only visited some selected affected district assemblies 42 days after the disaster because he had to appear in parliament the next day.

The MDA calls on all to reject the claim by the minister that a simulation exercise was done by the VRA in Mepe with the participation of 57 people before the spillage. Granted that this claim is even true, what is that so-called simulation supposed to do for a community of over 16,000 people? Which stakeholders were engaged in that exercise, and how was that information disseminated?

If the Minister and the VRA claim the simulation exercise was done to prepare the indigenes of Mepe ahead of the disaster for possible evacuation, what provisions were made for us to contain the fallouts?

It took the swift intervention of the Mepe Development Association (MDA) with support of the Mepe Traditional Council (MTC) to arrange for the evacuation of the displaced persons to churches and classrooms. The Canoe Owners Association were engaged, at our own cost, to ferry the flood victims across all the 12 crossing units created by the flood. The truth is that no life was lost thankfully because a good number of our people are fishermen and good swimmers and were able to manoeuvre the flood waters and not because NADMO rescued a single person as the Minister claimed.

The team from the Ghana Armed Forces only came on the ground with boats on 13th October to assist with the evacuation efforts, 17 days after the disaster struck. These boats are only stationed at one crossing point when we have not less than twelve (12).

The icing on the cake: a ministerial task force committee was also set up by the president on 13th October 2023 in response to the disaster, a clear indication that there was no inter-ministerial engagements prior to the spillage.

The MDA had to mobilise for relief items for the displaced persons continuously for over three weeks since the disaster without any state support. Not even a single bag of sachet water, mobile toilet, mosquito net, a grain of rice, mattress, temporary structures nor basic necessities of life to stay afloat were provided by the state through its agencies during those difficult moments. It had to take a media call out of the state’s neglect before the VRA provided six mobile toilets to the over 1,300 displaced persons camped in one of the so-called safe havens at St. Kizito on 20th October 2023

What is the importance of the so-called simulation exercise the minister rehashed on the floor of Parliament when the displaced persons were left to their fate when the disaster struck? Is that the minister’s understanding of the best way to handle a man-created disaster? The state’s reaction to its own created disaster was at best reactionary than proactive.

Why has the state left its responsibilities to private individuals and corporate bodies to be dredging flooded areas, constructing roads and temporary accommodation facilities for some affected communities?

How long will the people continue to live in mosquito-infested classrooms like refugees on their own land? How long, Mr. Minister? Why is the state silent on resettlement of the displaced persons and compensations for same?

It has been over 27 days since the formation of the inter-ministerial task force committee by the president, what has been their usefulness so far to the displaced persons and the many others that have lost their livelihoods as a result of the VRA-induced flood disaster?

The MDA expects the inter-ministerial committee and its relevant agencies such as the VRA, NADMO, Water Resources Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, among others, to properly engage key stakeholders in the affected communities in finding short, medium and long-term solutions to the flood disaster.

We will not countenance the continuous misinformation and disinformation by the state and its appointed representatives about the true situation on the ground.

Fabian Mawulenu Kojo
Chairman, Mepe Development Association