Govt inaugurates national earthquake preparedness and response c’ttee

A committee tasked with developing a comprehensive framework for refocusing national earthquake preparedness and response was yesterday inaugurated by the Minister of the Interior, Mr Ambrose Dery in Accra.

The 10-member committee, chaired by Mrs Carlien Bou-Chedid, a member of the Ghana Institute of Engineers, is to among other things, identify and outline the key measures that must be undertaken by relevant agencies to empower the communities to be well prepared and resilient for reduction of seismic risk.

In addition, they are to outline other response measures required by stakeholders and agencies in the event of an earthquake, to include the recovery phase, evaluate the capacities of relevant bodies mandated with national response to identify resource gaps and recommend measures to augment their capabilities towards effective response and also determine the kind of support that may be required.

Inaugurating it, Dery said the putting together of the committee was in preparedness towards any anticipated occurrence of earthquake in the country.

He said over the past year, the country, particularly some environs of Accra had been hit by a series of earth tremors of magnitudes ranging between 2.6 and 3.9 on the Richter Scale with the last occurrence on March 2.

Recounting the history of earthquakes in the country, the Minister said the last destructive earthquake that affected the country was on June 22, 1939 almost 100 years after the 1862 earthquake which shook Accra, rendering the Christianborg Castle and all other forts in Accra inhabitable.

“Should a major quake occur today, there would be many unanswered questions. Some of such questions are, what we would do as a country of Ghana and how many people and infrastructure will be found in harm’s way,” he queried.

Mr Dery noted that President Akufo-Addo in consonance with his commitment to make each person in the country secure was justifiably concerned about the state of affairs, stressing that, “Accordingly, Mr President has directed that a committee, this committee, be constituted to address the situation”.

He said the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) had not rested on its oars since the current government took office as it had held several engagements with stakeholders to discuss existing national capacities and capabilities to respond to a major earthquake.

On her part, the Chairperson of the committee, Mrs Bou-Chedid expressed her appreciation to the government for the confidence reposed in them, stressing that “we will work assiduously to ensure that we come out with a comprehensive plan that will ensure that we reduce the risk and harm in the event that the unfortunate occurs”.

She said the difficulty in managing such situation was the ability to get adjourning communities of the affected communities or areas ready to respond to such emergencies and it was important that such a committee had been put in place to get the whole country prepared.

Other members of the committee are Mr Eric Nana Agyemang-Prempeh, the Director General of NADMO, Mr Joseph Ankrah, Chief Disaster Control Officer, NADMO, Mr Nicholas Opoku, a seismologist with the Ghana Geological Survey Authority, ACP George Tweneboah, Ghana Police Service and Mr Julius Kuunuor, Ghana National Fire Service.

The rest are Mr Benedict Arhjurst, Land Use and Spatial Planning Authority, Dr Lawrence Ofori-Boadu, Ghana Health Service, Professor Ahmed Nuhu Zakariah, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Ambulance Service and Colonel Mohammed Mustapha of the Ghana Armed Forces.

The committee has up to April 15 to submit its report to the government.

By Cliff Ekuful

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