The Mepe Development Association (MDA) has condemned comments made by the Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources, Freda Prempeh, in which she blamed the indigenes of Mepe and other downstream communities along the Volta River for not heeding warnings to evacuate before the Akosombo Dam spillage.
In a statement released on yesterday, October 24, the MDA said the Minister’s comments were “ill-informed, uneducated” and disrespectful to the people of Mepe, who have suffered greatly from the devastating floods.
The MDA also challenged the Minister’s claims that the Volta River Authority (VRA) and the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) had conducted simulation exercises in Mepe to prepare residents for the spillage.
“The Mepe Development Association (MDA) strongly condemns the comments made by the Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources, Freda Prempeh, in which she blames the indigenes of Mepe and other downstream communities along the Volta River for not heeding warnings to evacuate before the Akosombo Dam spillage” part of the statement reads.
It added, “For the record, Mepe is the epicenter of the VRA-induced flood disaster where thousands of people are still reeling from the devastating losses and pain we have endured. We would like to ask the Minister to provide answers to folowing questions:
- Can the Minister tell the nation which part(s) of the Mepe traditional area the Volta River Authority (VRA) and the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) conducted the so-called simulation exercise before the spillage?
- How many people from Mepe were included in the said simulation exercise?
- How many times was the simulation exercise conducted, and how extensive was the community engagement?
“We wish to make it clear that the Mepe Traditional Council, Mepe Development Association, opinion leaders, and all key stakeholders were not engaged in any simulation exercise or post-simulation exercise as claimed by the Minister. How such an important exercise could escape the eyes and ears of these key stakeholders in the community leaves one to wonder whether the simulation should not be refunded to the state coffers.
“The Minister also mentioned that the people of Mepe refused to evacuate before the spillage. Evacuate to where? There were no official temporary shelter facilities provided by the state for the people in the event of an evacuation. It was the leadership of the MDA, in consultation with the Chiefs, that took the initiative to create seven makeshift safe havens for the affected flood victims in the following locations: Mepe R.C. Primary, R.C JHS, Mepe Presby Primary, Presby JHS, D.A JHS, Holy Christ, and St. Kizito Secondary Technical School.
“Out of these seven safe havens, only St. Kizito, which currently houses 1,320 displaced persons, received six mobile toilets just this past Friday, provided by the VRA after persistent appeals.”
What The Minister Said
The Minister speaking at a forum organized by the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) and its customers in Accra on Monday said government cannot be blamed entirely for the misfortunes of the flood victims following the spillage of the Akosombo and Kpong dams.
That, she said, was because despite the best efforts of key agencies to evacuate, people ahead of the spillage, they refused to pay heed to authorities.
Ms Prempeh explained that the Volta River Authority (VRA), the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) and the Water Resources Commission, since the beginning of 2023, had been educating people in the communities likely to be flooded in such a situation.
“They did simulation exercises with them even at Mepe, yet they refused to leave. They didn’t want to be evacuated. They stayed there till the end when we started spilling,” the Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources stressed.
“Now people are blaming government, VRA and NADMO but these three institutions really did a lot of education right from January. Even in September they were still talking to the people to move because there was a likelihood they were going to spill in the next week or two,” she added.