Wet and Ripped off

Dear Nii Kpakpo Thompson,

The rains have set in the savannah and like I predicted we aren’t adequately prepared for it. Trust me this time it is not structure wise but it is the inability of the people to prepare themselves for what is yet to come.

The meteorological services have sent a global warning that this year is going to be one of the toughest in terms of weather patterns and occurrences due to global climate change. Why else do you think we were experiencing such heat earlier in the year and we broke the record (in my estimation) when we hit 43degress a few months back. That was the height of global climate change for me. Where I would stand by a flame and couldn’t feel it burn as much as the sun was burning on my forehead and cheeks.

There was a thunderstorm yesterday and the lightning flashes alone were enough to send these people running helter-skelter to safety. The savannah people are not afraid of anything but for rainstorms they will run and ask questions later.

Sometime during the rainstorm I realized that gutter in front of my house was getting excessively full. With the kind of garbage my neighbors put in the drain in front of my house, it is during rainy weather like that that I make sure that I clean the gutter up. But as usual, when there are such incidents, you know the electricity company will do what they know best. And yes they did.

So Nii Kpakpo, I had to trace what was causing the water in my gutter not to flow. So with a shovel and a torchlight to see in the dark, helped by a healthy dose of lightning, I moved up the road to where the gutter connects to the main drainage. What a realized was quite shocking.

The winds that had preceded the rain had managed to push a truck (as the ones used in the market to cart goods) into the gutter and it had blocked the water in the drain from flowing uninterrupted. Interestingly, it was overflowing into the nearest houses and I could hear broom sounds swishing meaning that the occupants were attempting to sweep the water that was entering their rooms out of the room. Well I was amazed!

Yes I was amazed because not being a normal occurrence I expected that the occupants of the room will at least come out to check what was causing the water to flood into their rooms but they didn’t even bother. Even when I tried singlehandedly to move the truck out of the gutter so the water could flow, they still didn’t come out to help.

This fear of rainstorms in the savannah must be really something else. So finally I had to adjust the truck in the gutter so that at least the water and the debris would flow because if it didn’t it affected me too although I was a bit upstream.

It was only after the rainstorm had ended and the owner of the truck had come to retrieve it and I was trying to help that the women in the house came to thank me for me efforts at making the water flow uninterrupted and it seemed the truck owner had seen me too but didn’t come out too. Well, I had done my part. Suffice it to say that they lost a few items that were carried away in the floods but to them it seems it is a normal life.

So the next day I get an urgent call to come to work from my boss and I get there and the phones are ringing off the hook with disaster reports from all over the district. Roofs have been ripped off buildings, whole houses had collapsed and deep cracks have appeared in some buildings in the district. Teams had been dispatched into the various communities to access the damage and displacement as early as the crack of dawn and the reports kept flooding in.

Kpakpo, it is an uncanny sight. Luckily no casualties have been reported but the situation is a dire one. It is severe such that the radio stations haven’t stopped calling my office for updates and finally the Member of Parliament who also doubles as the Deputy Regional Minister had to come on a cursory tour of the district visiting affected households and assessing damage caused.

Kpakpo if you ask me, I think it is only a political gimmick because there is nothing much anybody can do and the people themselves are the cause of whatever happened to them.

Living in a gullible country, politicians take these opportunities to care for victims are they are seen to be sympathizing with them. Yes! It could be genuine but in reality, how best can they assuage the situation. Whatever relief they give or don’t give will never be enough to cater for the loss of property that these people have.

It’s always been my standpoint that the people are not adequately prepared for the rains. Let me ask this, who builds a bathroom that is stronger both in design and structure than their bedroom. I found it pretty interesting that some of the bathrooms were built with stronger mortar blocks than the buildings that collapsed and hey, I’m no expert.

Kpakpo, some of the cracks in some buildings already make them a death trap almost from the very day they were built but these people will not heed warnings or contract proper expertise to build their houses for them.

Roofing sheets lie ripped off buildings and somehow I can understand why the savannah people will rather stay indoors in a rainstorm. At least you don’t get beheaded by an aluminum roofing sheet especially the way some of the victims and residents describe how the sheets are ripped off the buildings by the force of the wind.

Well, it’s done and the reports for the field I’m collating won’t wait for me but I got to get back to them.

Before I go let me tell you about one funny incident.

Whilst we were going on the cursory rounds with the Minister and District Mayor, I noticed one of the minister’s assistants carried an iPad box. Yes! The iPad was in its original box and any time has wanted to ‘cut a picture’ he took it out, took just as many pictures, wiped it clean (did I tell you all this time it was drizzling) and put it back into the box.

Moreover we were doing the rounds with a television crew and a couple of journalists from some of the local radio stations some affiliated to radio stations in Accra.

My savannah people do take their technology seriously. We really need to work on accelerating that development process to bridge the gap with the south but ‘sadaly’ that has also become a fiasco.
Wish I could talk about it but alas.

So Kpakpo, do take care of you and you’ll hear more from me soon.
Best wishes.

Your Cousin in Law
Savannah Boy.

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