Many things in this world strike humans and we become so devastated, often boxed into a tight corner without the slightest imagination or the faintest idea how to lift ourselves out of an obstacle which engulf us.
More often than not, all kinds of solutions, strategies and expert opinions are proffered or deployed to deal with the issue at hand. Solutions turn to work but certain cases are not. They are sometimes left unresolved and could remain a mystery forever.
For three years running, Dormaa Nkyenkyenkye, more than any other place in Dormaa has repeatedly witnessed categories of rainstorm and levels of destructions of property running into several millions of cedis.
Major intriquing questions posed by the natural disasters that had plaqued the area have been left unanswered, although certain minor factors – few trees to serve as windbreaks, poor construction works by artisans/mason, use of inferior building materials, poor monitoring/supervision and regulations in ensuring standards set are duely followed by industry players – have been cited or assumed to be causes of the disaster.
There’s however no comprehensive study or research conducted to depict or reveal outright the causes of the recurrent disaster in the area.
But it appears the trend of events may not be ending anytime soon as more forecast of heavy rainfall have been predicted in the months ahead by weather experts.
The recurring disasters, have left residents with question – why Nkyenkyenkye again – although its magnitude are incomparable to those that occured in Florida, USA and Sierra Leone some year ago which made headlines in international media. In fact the area has consistently been worse hit any time there have been a massive rainstorm.
What is so interesting, is the fact that the disasters have occured in the same month – March – within the past three years. For many people, the month of March is thus gradually turning out to be some sort of a ‘mystery month’ or ‘Dormaa’s black month’ which comes with calamities, sorrow, tragedy and horror for particularly the people of Nkyenkyenkye community but not Dormaa as a whole.
A week before the rainstorm in Nkyenkyenkye similar one had struck Wamfie in the Dormaa East District of the Brong Ahafo Region also in March last year.
Others have wondered and at times suspected the unanswered mystery may be puzzling because evil and wrong doing may be thriving or taking a better hold of the populace there. And the gods, definitely, may have to be pacified to avert even more deadly, tragic and unpleasant news in the near future. At least that’s the view and suggestion of some.
In 2016, torrential rains resulted in the loss of two lives and wanton destruction of property including the – pulling down and disconnection of power/telephone lines, reported casualties, roof rip-offs, displacement of lotto kiosk and in some instances the displacement of giant trees situated along the road side.
The then Municipal Chief Executive(MCE), Mr Gordon Kwaku Asubonteng, in a quick response and reaction to the calamity constituted an eight member emergency committee to oversee and supervise the collection and distribution of relief items from individuals, organisations and philanthropists for presentation to those affected.
His efforts yielded some measure of success inspite of the very fact that not all victims ended up being beneficiaries of the relief items.
The quantity of items which were collected by the Committee after several appeals by the former MCE and the assembly member for the area, Mr Evans Kwaku Oppong on local radio stations was never enough to reach the number of victims hit by the disaster.
Others who were fortunate to have received some of the relief items later complained that it was not sufficient enough to adequately address all their concerns.
Meaning authorities were only able to meet their demands half way through. This, subsequently, led to some grumblings and murmurings in the community particularly as others could not benefit at all from distributed relief items fueling suspicions that some of the items may have been diverted.
Nothwithstanding, the former MCE’s efforts ended some praise from the indigenes in the manner he and his team approached and had handled the whole situation when it came up.
Mr. Kwaku Agyemang Manu, the Member of Parliament(MP) for Dormaa Central Constituency in all such moments have shown deep concern by personally donating some packets of roofing sheets and sympathising with disaster victims.
The last time he made such presentations was last year when he donated some 20 packets of roofing sheets valued at Ghc10,000.00 to authorities of the Seventh Day Adventist(SDA) Basic School. This School is located outside the confines of the Nkyenkyenkye community.
Administratively, the reaction of the Municipal National Disaster Management Organisation(NADMO) has been spontaneous in terms of visiting the affected community or the disaster scene and taking records of the number of those affected.
But they have always fallen short of finding sufficient relief items to supply as aids to victims. There’s no warehouse in place to even store such items for the relief organisation in the Municipality.
Ironically, in a country where companies like ASHFOAM, TCL, ALUZINC among others operate and do manufacture some of these relief items in large quantities for both the national and international market, some of these items some how turns to elude disaster and relief organisations and victims when they are needed most.
Unfortunately, those at the helm at NADMO still lack ideas and fail to be proactive regarding how they can apply themselves and partner these companies for support in operation. Sometimes they have argued and complained about limited budget from central government to carry out their work effectively.
Or peradventurely, their partnership with those institutions are not so strong in a way that allows NADMO district offices to receive more supplies of some of these items for onward distribution to disaster-stricken victims.
The previous and current Directors of the NADMO in the area are often heard in radio interviews echoing sentiments like “a list of beneficiaries and those affected in the ordeal have already been submitted to our Brong Ahafo Regional Office and we are waiting for their response and action”.
Those assurances usually ends with such radio conversations. Aid supply had never ever gotten to the victims who suffered dire need during such period.
In fact in 2016, it took the ingenuity, creativity and innovativeness of the then MCE, Mr. Gordon Asubonteng who set up an emergency committee to solicit public support for victims. Had he not appropriately intervened with his speed thinking idea, none of the victims could have received support for the disaster which struck.
The officials of NADMO were caught pants down and finger biting, wobbling in a desert of uncertainty and totally bereft of ideas, clueless as to how and what steps to take to find needed aid items to help distribute to the destitute.
They have severally complained about not having sufficient resources and relief materials to enable them perform their roles effectively with the urgency it requires. Theirs have always been a serious case of lack in meeting the expectation of victims.
The Municipal NADMO Office have often shown one hundred per cent dependence on the Regional Office in Sunyani to help them out of such situations when they surfaced but unfortunately, they were also logistically and terribly handicapped or ill equipped to deal with the crisis and pressure from other areas themselves.
Take a stroll around town, and you will see that there are still some areas in Dormaa not Nkyenkyenkye per se, which till date have a couple of buildings with roofs ripped apart and in poor condition following last year’s rainstorm disaster.
The buildings have been completely abandoned.Their occupants have deserted them and owners/landlords are yet to attend to them.
One cannot predict how soon these buildings will be put in good shape again by their owners.
A driver who works with the Dormaa Presbyterian Midwifery Nurses Training School who spoke on condition of anonymity could not tell whether or not a landlord of an apartment he formerly rented which had roof ripped off in a rainstorm since last year has received any form of assistance from the Municipal Assembly authorities in material or financial terms.
“The landlord has now left to Badukrom, a suburb of Dormaa Ahenkro. If he has received any form of assistance from the authorities definitely i will know”, he stated.
The building is one of those left in ruins. It was severely battered in the rainstorm and lies inhabited.
The current MCE, Mr Drissa Ouattara and his team of officials have supported victims but often their responses are usually not swift.
They attribute this to the precarious financial position of the Dormaa Central Municipal Assembly.
The Assembly donated roofing sheets to the SDA school as well but this happened several months after the rainstorm forcing authorities of the school to relocate students to church buildings for classroom activities.
The disaster has reintroduced a new way of roofing apartments – the pyramid style.
Mr. Ampaabeng Kyeremeh, former Brong Ahafo Regional Meteorological Officer, indicates the course of the disaster could be attributed to the lack of trees to serve as windbreaks.
“Thunderstorm form at a particular spot. It happens that where there are no trees like Nkyenkyenkye it moves with speed and creates havoc on its way.
He appealed to residents to visit the premises of the Forestry Commission(FC) as there were special trees reserved for such purposes by the Commission.
Mr. Kwasi Damoah, the Municipal Manager of the National Disaster Management Organisation(NADMO) declined to comment on the number of houses which were affected in the rainstorm in March this year and other related subject.
By – Robert Tachie Menson