“Lest we forget” is a phrase commonly used in war remembrance services and it is consistent with the main theme of the “Recessional” poem written by Rudyard Kipling.
The main theme of the poem is that, if a nation forgets the true source of its success, its military or material possessions will be insufficient in times of war.
We have quoted the above phrase today to remind all of us about the deadly June 3 twin disaster that occurred five years ago yesterday, and which as a country, we appear to have forgotten about hence the quote “Lest we forget”.
Indeed, yesterday marked exactly half a decade since the horrendous twin-disaster claimed 154 lives at the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange in Accra.
The memories of those who died and scores of others who sustained injuries are still fresh on our minds. Many years after the disaster, we continue to mourn the dead but not done enough to support victims as well as institute measures to ensure that such a calamity never befalls the nation again.
The question to ask is why the country has been unable to comprehensively address the concerns of families of victims and those who sustained injuries as well as fix the problems that led to the disaster on that fateful day.
Five years down the lane, survivors are still battling to live as some have been neglected by the society due to the severe burns they sustained during the fire outbreak.
Similarly, the cause of the floods, which were traced to blockade in Accra’s main storm drains, resulting from the non-desilting, as well as the building of settlements and habitations of squatters along the storm drains, are still with us.
Also outstanding to be resolved is restoration of the full discharge capacity of the Odaw channel into the Korle-Lagoon which has been reduced by human activity at the lower parts of the Odaw River in the area known as “Sodom Gomorrah” blocked by settlers who had reclaimed substantial portions of the Odaw channel for houses, mosques, churches and a market.
Despite a Ministerial Committee’s recommendation after investigations into the disaster, nothing or very little have been done to prevent future occurrence.
Lest we forget, a similar disaster can befall us if we do not take the necessary steps to address problems which led to the June 3 incident.
It is important for city authorities to be reminded that they owe it as a duty to ensure public safety and therefore must take the tough measures to prevent such disasters in future.
If that means clearing the water ways of illegal structures, desilting drains regularly and removing encroachers along the Odaw River, let us do it.
We also appeal to the government and the city authorities to equitably compensate the victims who continue to be in agony five years on.
Never again should we experience another June 3 calamity and we should never forget such a disaster so that, it would serve as a guide to correct our path.