Floods threaten Northern Star Tomato Factory

The Northern Star Tomato Factory (NSTF) at Pwalugu in the Upper  East Region is under threat from rising flood waters from the White Volta.

The precincts of the tomato factory and farmlands close to the river have all been submerged in water.

Though the factory is temporarily out of operation due to shortage of raw materials, some facilities such as the distribution panel which supplies power to other parts of the factory have been affected by the floods.

The road leading to the factory has been inundated with water and should the continuous flow of water persist, some equipment will be lost.

As the water level has risen around the plant, managers of the facility are worried about the possibility of the situation escalating, especially as the sluice gates of the Bagre Dam in neighbouring Burkina Faso have been opened due to torrential rains in that country to allow for excess water to flow out..

It will be recalled that on August 24, 2012, authorities in Burkina Faso issued an alert that due to heavy rains in that country, the Bagre Dam had reached its maximum operating level, requiring the spillage.

A delegation led by the Upper East Regional Minister, Mr Mark Woyongo, and the Chief Executive of the Savanna Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) were in Bagre to witness the spillage. On their return, the team said only one of the five gates was opened and that the spillage would be done gradually.

A few days after the visit, the rising waters from the spillage coupled with heavy rains in the Upper East Region are causing worries in downstream communities in Ghana. The White Volta River has reached its upper level, bursting its banks and flooding major highways at Kobore in the Bawku West District and Pwalugu in the Talensi District.

The already silted river is also posing a threat to the bridges spanning the river at Kobore in the Bawku West District and Pwalugu in the Talensi District.

Briefing the Upper East Regional Minister, Mr Mark Woyongo, who toured the Northern Star Tomato Factory (NSTF) to assess the threat posed by the rising flood waters, the General Manager of the NSTF, Mr Kwabena Darko, said the rising flood waters posed a threat to the operations of the plant should the situation persist.

Mr Woyongo described the current water level as a disaster, considering the devastating effect it could have on lives and property, including farmlands. He indicated his intention to have a second meeting with authorities in Bagre to discuss how to minimise the rate of spillage before the situation got out of hand.

The Regional Coordinator of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), Mr Patrick Akake, has reiterated calls for people living along water bodies and those occupying low lying areas to move to safer grounds till the rainy season is over.

He said the NADMO was under resourced and could not shoulder interventions alone. He, therefore, appealed to institutions and agencies to complement the effort of the NADMO and the government by attending to flood victims in times of emergency.

In a related development, NADMO officials are expected to carry out an assessment of communities in the Bolgatanga Municipality who were severely affected by last Wednesday’s floods which also claimed one life.

Source: Daily Graphic

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