I Have Failed – Says Accra Mayor

Dr Vanderpuije admitted on Rainbow Radio 87.5Fm that he had failed the people in his administration of the city.Pressure is mounting on Alfred Oko Vanderpuije, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) Chief Executive, to resign his position following last Wednesday’s deadly floods that killed over a hundred people as the mayor concedes his failure in administering the city.

He blamed the floods partly on the Ministry of Finance for the delay in approving and releasing a $500 million facility granted by Exim Bank of America to dredge the Odaw River to pave way for free flow of water under the Conti Project.

He has come under heavy criticisms for the poor planning of the capital, particularly the poor sanitary conditions which had been considered a conduit for Wednesday’s floods that claimed close to 200 lives.

There have been several calls for the AMA boss, who has been awarded the prestigious Jose Eduardo dos Santos’ African Best Mayor, to step aside as other mayors across the globe whose cities got flooded had done.

A typical example is the Mayor of Beijing in China, Guo Jinlong, and his deputy, Ji Lin, who had tendered their resignations because the city got flooded and 37 people lost their lives last week.

Also, in France the mayor of La Faute-sur-Mer in the Pays de la Loire region, Rene Marratier, was jailed for four years last December because the court said he knew the west coast resort town was at risk of flooding.

In Ghana, Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG) is calling for the immediate sack of Dr Vanderpuije.

According to the pressure group, the AMA boss has failed in his duties as the political head of the capital.

AFAG in a statement said, ‘With all the powers of his office, it was his duty to clean up the city and to have taken necessary actions to have avoided this disaster. He has woefully failed in his duties.’

It said President Mahama had also failed in his duty to protect Ghanaians for lack of or the failure of implementing a comprehensive drainage plan for the capital.

AFAG recalled that in June 2014 President Mahama promised there would be no flooding in Accra again saying, ‘I have directed the finance minister to release funds immediately for the construction of storm drains in Accra.’

The pressure group underscored, ‘A year on, the rains are in and once again, Accra is flooded. Clearly, there is no doubt that Ghana, our beloved nation, is led by leaders who care more about their names in the newspapers, billboards and faces on TVs than solving pressing issues facing us.’

Death Toll
In the course of the floods last Wednesday, June 3, a Goil petrol station at Kwame Nkrumah Circle exploded, killing many people.

The death toll for the fire and flood tragedy continues to rise as more bodies are discovered daily.

Officially, the government announced the total number of those who perished as 150 but unofficial sources put it beyond 200, aside the many businesses lost in the mishap.

As at yesterday, a body was said to have been retrieved at Teshie Rasta, a suburb of Accra.

Aside that, more bodies were also retrieved on Saturday and yesterday around the disaster scene at the Nkrumah Circle, including a child whose body was in an advanced state of decomposition.

The three-day national mourning with flags flying at half mast as declared by President John Mahama starts today.

President of IMANI Ghana, Franklin Cudjoe, has also called for the resignation of the AMA boss saying, ‘The mayor has overseen too many mishaps which have made his position untenable.

‘I have reached that limit where I think the Accra mayor really has to bow out. I would be ashamed if I were the son of the Accra mayor, having seen a series of mishaps,’ he told Citi FM on Saturday.

Franklin Cudjoe pointed out that the billboard in Accra congratulating the mayor, and which has since become a source of ridicule for his critics, remained intact, despite the widespread destruction caused by the floods.

‘The annoying thing is the fact that those structures erecting his awards in the middle of this chaos stood after the rains. They were probably the only ones well constructed probably because they were effigies of his awards,’ the IMANI boss observed.

He said the time had come for Oko Vanderpuije to accept responsibility for failing to effectively manage the city’s flooding problems and step aside as it was the ‘civilised’ thing to do.

‘Responsibility is a very important matter and he should be ashamed. One of the avenues to express angst is when we have this mayor leaving the scene. When he does that, it sends signals to his bosses that he has reached his wits’ end and it will be enough opportunity for them to get something done.

‘You hear about political interference. Maybe it is a factor, but I think that at this stage there have been too many of these mishaps that I think he should bow out. That is what everyone does in a civilised state; just bow out,’ the affable IMANI boss said.

Heads Must Roll
Mathew Opoku Prempeh aka Napo, New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP for Manhyia North, also said President John Mahama should resign from office if he could not sanction his non-performing appointees.

He said the president should use the disaster to crack the whip because the city’s authorities had failed to effectively deliver on their mandate, and particularly mentioned the mayor as someone who should have resigned or been fired following the floods.

‘I don’t blame anybody but the president…he should be responsible. Why shouldn’t it be the president? Didn’t he know there was no money before he went to cut the sod…Does it mean those who joined the president to cut the sod were deceiving Ghanaians? Are the handlers of the president leading him astray?” he queried on Peace FM in Accra.

Advice To Sue
Sydney Caseley-Hayford, a financial analyst and           anti-corruption crusader, rather wanted the public to resist any attempt by the city authorities to demolish their houses on the grounds that those houses are on waterways.

‘If this government, through any means, gets up and comes to demolish your home on the grounds that you have built your house in a waterway, don’t accept it. Sue them,’ he said on Citi FM, adding, ‘They have no right to break down your home because the people who are responsible for giving permits for you to build your homes are sitting at the Town and Country Planning, the district authorities, the municipalities and the metropolises. That is their job.’

Mr Caseley-Hayford continued, ‘If you are given a permit to build a property in a place where they know is on a waterway and they have managed to disingenuously manoeuvre around so that the property is built and they come and tell you that your property should not have been built there, reveal who gave you that authority to build and let that person be punished and prosecuted for doing the wrong thing.’

By William Yaw Owusu

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