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Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh

Energy Minister takes responsibility to brief Parliament on spillage of Akosombo Dam

The Minister of Energy, Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh, has taken the responsibility to brief Parliament on the spillage of water from the Akosombo Dam that caused the flood in parts of the Volta Region.

He said that even though there is an inter-ministerial advisory committee set up to investigate the matter, he is prepared to inform the House on the development.

Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, October 31, the Manhya South Member of Parliament said “Even though VRA is under the Ministry of Energy we take responsibility that it is a national disaster, it is an emergency, it is not only affecting people south the dam, it is affecting people north the dams, from the Bui Power on the White Volta. We need a comprehensive statement and understanding.

“I would have begged for even a longer time but since this house needs to also be informed of what is going on and government activities, I am not the lead government agency, there is an inter-ministerial advisory committee headed by somebody but we will take responsibility and come and tell you what VRA did and VRA hasn’t done, till when we finish with everything we can all settle and listen and have a dispassionate opinion on this matter. I do pledge that if it is next week Wednesday I will be here with VRA.”

Prior to his statement, the Majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu had served notice that officials of the Volta River Authority (VRA) would be invited to Parliament to provide answers to questions on the spillage of water.

Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said that he believed officials of the VRA had questions to answer.

“I believe we may need to find answers to some questions. The Speaker is not yet here, when the Speaker comes, we will have some discussions with him and I believe it is important for us to invite VRA to come and fully brief the House about what has been happening, the repercussions, and how to avoid any future such events,” he told journalists in Parliament on Tuesday, October 31.

The VRA has been accused of causing the ‘man-made’ disaster.

For instance, North Tongu Member of Parliament, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, said he was in talks with lawyers for a possible lawsuit against the VRA for the flood.

“We’re in talks with our lawyers,” he said on the Hot Edition on 3FM Friday, October 20.

He further said it was only a miracle that no life was lost in the flood and further acknowledged the work done by the youth of the affected communities in helping the rescue mission.

Meanwhile, the Minority in Parliament has demanded a thorough investigation into the cause of the flooding situation.

He further expressed disappointment at the way the VRA is going about its relief support to the people.

The Minority Leader Dr Cassiel Ato Forson told journalists after leading the leadership of the Minority to inspect communities that have been affected on Friday, October 20 that “We have Saglemi sitting idle,  the government must ensure that they house the people of these 11 affected communities for this constituency properly. We are suggesting that as a matter of urgency, they can relocate them temporarily to the Saglemi Housing project.”

The Ajumako Enyan Essiam lawmaker added “We are disappointed in the Volta River Authority, we believe that their conduct has not been good enough, they have not engaged communities and we in the NDC particularly in Parliament, will investigate this matter.

“We urge the Energy Committee from our side to start the process of instituting a probe into this matter immediately. Aside from this,  we also believe that the VRA has not been proactive, after causing this man-made disaster their donations are coming in in trickles. A strong institution such as VRA  should have done better what they are doing, we urge them to also start.”

Earlier, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the VRA, Mr Emmanuel Antwi-Darkwa said that the lake was experiencing inflows more than expected hence the spillage in that magnitude.

“We are on phase II [of the spillage] right now and it is a cycle. It is normal at this time of the year for us to experience inflows. The difference is that we are getting more than expected and to safeguard this dam means that we have to spill water, that is the standard operation for any hydro dam but the inflows that we are seeing now are in excess.

“Definitely, as the cycle goes through this will recede so we are hoping it will recede in the next time,” he told journalists on Thursday, October 12.

“The spilling may continue even though we are anticipating that the levels may drop down to phase 1, which was started on September 15 but of course, we did not have much excess as we are seeing now, this is an emergency as we have seen from the beginning.

“Whether dredging or no dredging it is an emergency. The volume of water that is coming into the lake right now which we have to throw out, it means that we need to evacuate people from wherever they are to ensure they are safe until the inflows recede,” he added.

The VRA was accused of neglecting its responsibilities in the Lower Volta Basin hence the huge impact of flood caused by spillage from the Akosombo and Kpong Dams on communities.

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