Akosombo Dam spillage: We’re considering a class action suit against government – Ablakwa

The Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has announced his intention to file a lawsuit against the government on behalf of the victims of the Akosombo Dam spillage.

According to him, despite exhaustive efforts to secure government assistance for the thousands displaced by the disaster, including providing new housing and aiding those who lost property, there has been no action.

Speaking on JoyFM’s Newsnight on April 29, Mr Ablakwa said affected residents feel abandoned and rejected eight months after the disaster insisting that they deserve compensation for their losses. “It is their right.”

“To be very sincere with you, we have begun discussions with our lawyers. We’ve done everything we can do in Parliament. We have filed motions, we’ve made statements, we’ve filed urgent questions and we have engaged ministers. It’s clear that this is a clear case of government abdicating and engaging in cruel neglect. So we are considering a class action,” he told the host Evans Mensah.

“We are talking to our lawyers, and we want to take legal action to compel the government to be responsible and be responsive to the plight of the victims of this man-made disaster which they created. It appears that that’s the only realistic option we have now,” Mr Ablakwa noted.

He said that some victims have homes now as a result of support from Ghanaians, NGOs, organisations and embassies.

“We were able to get two resettlements, housing 600 people. Where will all of these displaced people be? We are on the third project now, MP and partners projects, but there’s not much we can do. The catastrophe is on a large scale, we expect the government to carry out its mandate.” he said.

The North Tongu MP said that it is unfair for the government to fail in its duty to take care of the people who were victims of the disaster through no fault of theirs.

Mr Ablakwa added that they are also yet to see the inter-ministerial committee set up to investigate the incident in the communities adding that their request for an invite to the committee hearing has not received a response.

The spillage, carried out by the Volta River Authority (VRA) on September 15, 2023, displaced over 27,000 people, according to the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO).

The spillage affected almost all the communities along the lower Volta Basin, resulting in widespread power cuts in the affected communities.

Subsequently, in November 2023, the government as part of the 2024 budget, earmarked GH¢220 million to aid relief efforts for communities impacted by the Akosombo Dam spillage floods.

On Independence Day, President Akufo-Addo revealed that GH¢80 million out of the promised GH¢220 million had been released by the Ministry of Finance, to support the ongoing rehabilitation of communities affected.

However, Mr Ablakwa criticized the lack of transparency regarding the utilisation of the GH¢80 million released by the Ministry of Finance.

He noted that when the Housing Minister was asked to provide details on what the government had done and used the GH¢80 million for, he could not give concrete answers.

“The last time we heard from the Works and Housing Minister, the government was still doing an assessment to determine how much exactly would go, what sort of resettlement and low-cost housing they promised would happen. So, the last time the Works and Housing Minister visited, he told the chief that they should prepare the land, the government would soon arrive. That was about three weeks ago.”

“When the chief asked him for designs and if they could have a look at them for the housing project, he told the chief that the designs were not ready. So, it’s a very lackadaisical, nonchalant attitude. It’s as though, let’s pretend after many months when there is an outcry and they are reminded that they have an obligation, there is a constitutional mandate imposed on them, then, they come around,” Mr Ablakwa said.

On the other hand the government, he said, has initiated many new projects in Ejisu ahead of the by-election.

“How about fellow citizens, thousands of them, living in tents? They’ve lost everything. Farmers who cannot return to their farms because their farms were submerged, and they don’t have the means to return to their livelihoods.”

“They don’t want to remain beggars. They don’t want to remain people who are at the mercy of charity. They don’t want to continue to live in abject squalor,” Mr Abakwa said.

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Source: myjoyonline.com