Ablakwa to VRA: Consult with chiefs before spilling water from dam

The North Tongu Member of Parliament said the Volta River Authority (VRA) must learn from last year’s mistakes and ensure better communication and transparency

The Member of Parliament for the North Tongu constituency of the Volta region, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has warned the Volta River Authority (VRA) to engage the chiefs and residents before embarking on their intended dam spillage.

Speaking at Juapong during a press conference for the chiefs and people of the Tongu area, Ablakwa said, VRA must consider the plights the residents are going through after last year’s disaster, which has rendered many homeless and in hardship.

“Many of the flood victims are still living in tents with unhealthy living conditions and hardship without any compensation from the government and yet you are announcing another spillage. The people of Tongu deserve better but not to be punished for going through this mess. We will not tolerate any unprepared spillage without any proper engagement with the chiefs and other relevant stakeholders,” he urged.

“VRA must learn from last year’s mistakes and ensure better communication and transparency in their plans, including evacuation procedures in case of an emergency.”

The call by the member of parliament comes after the VRA announced in a statement a possible controlled spillage of water from the dam, which last year affected over 30,000 households in South, North, and Central Tongu, displacing residents and damaging properties and farm lands.

“We want to see the necessary preparations by the VRA and the evacuation plans for those who might be affected before the spillage and without that, we will not accept what happened last year. The people of Tongu are not demanding for what they do not deserve but they are asking for their human rights, and that must be respected. ”

This, he believes, would help avert the level of disaster experienced last year, where over 30,000 people were displaced and compelled to live under inhuman circumstances.

Speaking at the press launch of the Tongu Chiefs Union in Juapong, Ablakwa called for extensive stakeholder engagement to ensure all outstanding safety issues are addressed before the spillage.

“We want to use this opportunity to send a very clear message to the Volta River Authority that the disregard for our dignity, and humanity that occurred last year, will not be accepted this year. We would not tolerate that this year.

“Before they spill, we want to see their emergency preparedness plan. We want to see their plan to evacuate people and we want to see where they have prepared for the people who will be evacuated,” he said.

Ablakwa has therefore called on VRA to properly engage the chiefs and people of Tongu for a dialogue and possible preparations before the spillage.

Meanwhile, Togbega Okokoanko Nana Yaw Akonnor II, the paramount chief of the Vume traditional area, has expressed worries over the recent announcement by the Volta River Authority.

“I am grieved with fear and frustration after reading the announcement by the VRA yesterday on news portals that, they will spill the dam again while my people have not even recovered from the spillage damage last year. They are currently suffering and the government has been mute about the plight of the victims yet they want to embark on another spillage.”

“They need to come to us and engage us with their plans and where they will evacuate the victims before they carry out any spillage; if not, we will resist every attempt ” he urged .

He lamented that, last year’s victims are still living in tents and experiencing hardship without being compensated by the government. He urged the government and the Volta River Authority to consider compensating the last year’s victims before any other spillage.

Reporting by Solomon Mensah-Ahiable in the Oti Region

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