Key national assets including the seat of government, the Jubilee House; Kotoka International Airport and Tema Harbour are in danger of demolition if there is a major earthquake in Ghana.
A report of a technical committee indicated that all these state facilities fall within the earthquake Zone, which stretches between the Volta, Greater Accra Eastern Regions as well as parts of the Central Region.
Consequently, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has issued a number of directives to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in response to the report compiled by the committee of experts tasked to assess the country’s state of preparedness for the occurrence of earthquakes. Ghana has recorded three earthquakes in 1615, 1636 and the last was in 1939 resulting in 17 deaths, 133 injured, leading to resettlement of hundreds of people in Accra.
President Akufo-Addo has accordingly directed an immediate integrity audit of all public buildings to determine their state of readiness in the event of an earthquake
He issued the directives at a stakeholders’ conference organised by the Ministry of the Interior at Tang Palace Hotel in Accra yesterday.
President Akufo-Addo noted that the series of earth tremors experienced by the country in recent times, coupled with the confirmation that Ghana is susceptible to earthquakes along the southern belt and the Akwapim-Togo range, resulted in the establishment of the Technical Committee to prepare “A Framework for Refocusing Ghana’s Earthquake Preparedness and Response”.
Endorsing the report and recommendations of the Committee, together with its action plan, the President noted that it is the collapse of structures during earthquakes that is responsible for human and economic losses.
“This means that to avoid or reduce these losses, we need to ensure that buildings, including dwellings, dams and bridges, are structurally competent and resilient to earthquakes of a higher magnitude,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo added, “Constructing well-engineered structures, including dams and roads, and retrofitting important lifeline buildings, such as hospitals, schools, churches, and mosques, cannot be compromised. That is why I urge the Engineering Council of the Ministry of Works and Housing to ensure that a comprehensive integrity audit of all public buildings and structures is conducted, and Government appropriately advised.”
He also urged the Ghana Geological Survey Authority to advise Government on the logistical needs and equipment required by the Authority to undertake round the clock monitoring of seismic activities for urgent action.
Knowing what to do, he said, in the event of an earthquake, is crucial to survival, adding that it is important that all Ghanaians know what to do to remain safe and alive should such an unfortunate event occur in future.
“I have already instructed the leadership of NADMO to liaise with the Ghana Education Service to help incorporate learning themes on protection against earthquakes and other disasters in the curricula at the pre-tertiary education level. Again, I have encouraged NADMO to embark on a sustained education campaign for the entire population, in this regard. I have requested regular updates from the Director-General of NADMO on progress made,” President Akufo-Addo noted.
To the Ministries of Works and Housing; and Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development, President Akufo-Addo urged them to collaborate with the Ghana Institution of Engineers to develop a scheme that will entail home-owners retrofitting their homes to make them resistant to earthquakes, and compelling prospective home-owners to build in accordance with defined standards.
“I want to reiterate my total commitment as President to ensuring that Government protects the entire citizenry from the effects of earthquakes and other disasters that might ravage any part of the nation,” he said.
Government, according to President Akufo-Addo, has sufficiently demonstrated its determination to make the nation resilient to the effects of disasters, adding that “we will continue to equip NADMO and, indeed, all response agencies, to enhance their operational effectiveness”.
He indicated that “the only option is to work collaboratively, devoid of turf wars and other counter-productive tendencies. Disaster preparedness and mitigation are a shared and collective responsibility. Let us put our shoulders to the wheels and safeguard Mother Ghana.