Ghana’s brilliant economic profile has recently been tainted by a combination of power disruptions and a full-fledged fiscal crisis. Despite several attempts solve its socio-economic problems—from engaging the IMF for funds and economic advice to purchasing electricity from Ivory Coast—new challenges keep arising. The latest is the loss of more than 90 lives from a flood-triggered explosion at a gasoline station.
The flooding moved petrol and diesel away from the gas station where it came in contact with fire from a nearby residential facility and exploded. As at this morning, bodies were still being collected from the scene and officials from a nearby 37 Military Hospital said their morgue had already reached its full capacity. Footage of charred bodies loaded on trucks dominated the media space as did pictures of neighbouring buildings that caught fire because of the explosion. “Many people took shelter under a shed at the station during a severe rain across the country and got trapped when the explosion happened,” an eye-witness report stated.
Visiting the scene of the incident, Ghanaian President John Dramani advocated for calm and praised the rescue workers for the lives they were able to save. “The loss of life is catastrophic and almost unprecedented. We will have to take some measures to avoid this from happening in the future,” he said.
Accra experiences serious flooding crises every year largely due to a lack of drainage canals and sewers to divert rainwater. Driven by the stagnant water mass, a number of waterborne diseases have ravaged the West African capital in recent times; last year alone, the city reported more cholera cases than the previous twenty years combined. “Many suburbs of Accra and surrounding parts have been heavily affected, leading to heavy restriction of movement of people,” the Communications Ministry declared in a statement. “The general public is kindly advised to avoid fast-moving rainwater and areas they know have big drains. Stay on higher ground, where necessary, to prevent loss of life.”
Ghana is the world’s largest cocoa producer but this year’s harvest will likely be the smallest in five years due to the poor weather.
Beyond the explosion, the rains—which lasted for two days—swept many cars away and blocked roads. Some power sub-stations were destroyed leaving many parts of Ghana without power and worsening the already unpleasant energy shortages. Needless to say, many homes were destroyed and some locals fled their residences in their night wears.
Fixing this crises will be a top priority for the government especially as the nation prepares for another election cycle next year. Experts believe it will be “very difficult” to restore a country ridden with devastating power gaps and a debt profile as high as 70 percent of its GDP.
Weather analysts say more rains should be expected.