Ho, Nov. 6 GNA - “Building a culture of prevention is not easy. While the cost of prevention has to be paid in the present, its benefits lie in a distant future. Moreover the benefits are not tangible, they are the disasters that did not happen.” (Kofi Annan, 1999, Former UN Secretary General).
As a young journalist appreciative of the environment and coming from Accra to Ho, the Volta Regional capital, the first thing I noticed about Ho was the lush beautiful greenery.
I mean sheer attractiveness. A beauty to behold of my new found love-the Ho City.
The mountains and hills are wrapped in beautiful mini forests with sluggish streams and rivers in seemingly romantic affairs with tree plantations.
The rich vegetation with trees between houses, the “fresh” air and absence of noise pollution make the City adorable.
It is a good sight viewing the Kabakaba Hills and Galenku Mountain surrounding the Ho Township at Sunset and enjoyable observing the valley City at the summit of the mountains at night.
The rich vegetation cover provides breeding places for animals, bio-diversity, equitable temperatures, medicinal plants, and help preserve water bodies in the forest.
It also helps in absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and provides aesthetic beauty.
But this beautiful City is waiting to be ‘crushed’ as it is experiencing the sharp edge of urbanisation and gradually becoming home for the rich and the toast for players in hospitality industry.
It seems there are no well-defined plans to landowners on how to put up buildings on the hilltop, which could cause serious mudslide when the vegetation cover is all gone.
Players in the hospitality industry and some individuals are simply digging everywhere and “planting” blocks with no recourse to the rich vegetation cover just as it happened to the historical Mount Vesuvius and the City of Pompeii in ancient Rome.
Despite cautions from the Geological Survey Department against the putting up of structures along the mountain range, due to the risk of rocks falling off of huge boulders, there appear to be mad rush for land on the hills, with some erecting structures between the mountains.
Officials of the Municipal Forestry Commission described the happening as a “time bomb” and predicted that in a few years to come, the Ho Township would be submerged in water and mud if nothing is done to protect the hills.
Investigations by the Ghana News Agency, indicated that the Kabakaba Hills is part of the Akwapim-Togoland range, which is mainly made of quartzite and phyllites rocks making it not solid enough to hold buildings especially those that do not have deeper and firmer foundations.
Recently, some residents living at the foot of the Hills complained of experiencing floods and mudslide. Ali Johnson, 43, an Auto mechanic, who resides there with his family said, “Madam, we are really suffering. Anytime it rains, our rooms and shops are flooded. And you will find mud everywhere. We sometimes use three or four days to clear the mess.”
Unconfirmed reports also indicate that a six-year old boy lost his life last year during a flood in the Kpoe community, down the hill.
In July this year, the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) in the Volta Region declared the Adaklu Mountain, the highest free standing mountain in Ghana, unsafe for sight-seeing as a result of a “severe” landslide displacing 50 farmers and destroying over 70 acres of farmlands at Helekpe, Avanyaviepe and Sikaman.
Geologists attributed the incident to farming activities on the slope of the Mountain and quarrying activities, some kilometres away from the Mountain.
Similar incidents of landslide/mudslide have been recorded on the Peki-Adzokoe and Akpafu mountains in the South Dayi and Hohoe districts respectively, raising concerns over human activities on the Kabakaba Hills.
It is therefore imperative for developers to create buffer zones of about 50-100 metres from the foot of the Mountain and plant and maintain trees in the zones to avoid imminent disaster.
Planners of cities (Architects, Engineers, and Geoscientists) must also stop giving permits to people to develop earthquake prone areas, flood areas, buffer zones and ensure that foundations of buildings go deeper beyond the clayey layer.
Mr Kwame Gyasi, Volta Regional Director, Ghana Tourism Authority said the Hills have local tourism potentials and said his outfit could salvage it by mapping it out to boost tourism and also preserve its vegetation cover.
Mr Tordey Gershon Amaglo, Ho Municipal Forestry Commission Customer Service Officer, also said with the availability of funds, the Hills could be transformed into a hiking site for tourists.
The Hills could also be developed as a relaxation centre, where pupils and researchers could go for recreation and reading ‘festivals.’