We need a sea defence wall. Lives and properties must be protected in our area.”
Those were the words of Mr Sylvester Kumawu, the assembly member for Amutinu-Salakope, one of the communities hit by recent tidal waves in the Ketu South municipality in the Volta Region.
He said life had been very tough for the affected families, and that what was required was a long-term solution to the problem.
The tidal waves are said to have disrupted the economic activities of the people and affected the people’s health, education and other daily engagements.
For the past three months, over 1,000 residents of Agavedzi, Adina, Amutinu and Salakope in about 135 homes have been affected and rendered homeless by the ravaging sea, which keeps swallowing homes and destroying properties.
Some victims of the disaster are still lodging in churches, schools, under trees and with family members, although social and economic activities in the enclave seem to have returned to normal.
The amplified call for a sea defence wall in the affected area appears to have become urgent because the sea — which used to be 500 metres away from human settlements — is now about 100 metres closer to the people.
The tidal waves became intense from 2015, for which reason the government signed a contract with Amadi Company Limited for a sea defence project.
The first phase of the project, which commenced in 2016, tackled the coastal stretch from Havedzie/Horvi-Blekusu-Agavedzi, which at the time was at the mercy of the destructive force of the waves.
The second phase was to be from Agavedzi-Salakope-Amutinu-Adina to other coastal communities.
The repercussions of the annual tidal waves have always been disastrous, although no casualty is recorded.
The Keta-Aflao road in the area is currently on the verge of being swept away by the sea, threatening to leave the communities trapped between the sea and the Keta Lagoon.
The people’s fear
The people fear that if the sea takes away the Keta-Aflao road around the area where the communities are located, it could further take away the main Accra-Aflao ECOWAS road if the sea defence wall is not constructed within the next two months.
Mr Kumawu told the Daily Graphic that the only solution to the problem was a sea defence wall to protect residents of the affected communities.
While showing appreciation to the National Disaster Management Organisations (NADMO) for the relief items given to affected persons, Mr Kumawu said that was not enough, stressing that that gesture was only a temporary measure to ameliorate the plight of the people.
“We were made to understand that the project would be in phases. So we expect the second phase to continue to take us out of our plight. We cannot continue to lose all we acquire to the waves. People have lost homes that took them years to build. We need a real solution to our problem,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, the residents have indicated that relocating from their communities will impose a financial burden on them, aside from losing their identity and cultural heritage.
A fisherman of 37 years at Salakope, Midao Agbokpa, said fishing activities had slowed down because debris from destroyed buildings was in the sea and often destroyed their nets.
He said some fishermen also suffered injuries when they dived into the sea because of the debris in the sea.
He said the sea defence project was non-negotiable, adding: “We are fisher folk in these communities. The sea is our source of livelihood, and so moving us from here will be very difficult. We are only asking the government to protect us from the destruction of the sea, as it has done for other communities.”
Meanwhile, the Ketu South Municipal Assembly has given assurance of its commitment to construct the sea defence wall.
It is said to be seeking about $83 million to fund the extension of the sea defence project to cover about 4.2 kilometres to save the coastal communities from extinction.
The Municipal Chief Executive, Mr Elliot Agbenorwu, noted that the issue demanded urgent solution, and that the assembly was doing its best to address it.