Mr Eric Nana Agyemang-Prempeh, the Director-General of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), says Accra is depleted of open spaces, which are most needed to erect temporal tents and other structures as shelters in times of earthquake.
He said that notwithstanding most playgrounds in Accra, especially for public schools, have been converted to Astro turfs and in some cases with buildings.
Speaking at a media briefing ahead of a four-day Earthquake Simulation Exercise in the Volta and the Greater-Accra regions to test the country’s preparedness during a damaging earthquake, Mr Agyemang-Prempeh said open spaces served as places where people run to or converge in times of emergencies and appealed to the Ministry of Education to stem the practice that makes such grounds inaccessible for public use.
“I wish to also appeal to Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies to take a critical look at protecting the few open spaces left and try to create new ones not only in Accra but all over the country,” he said and urged the Land Use and Special Planning Authority (LUSPA) to support MMDAs in that effort.
He said the vulnerability of Accra, Tema and adjoining districts to damaging earthquakes could not be emphasised and called on the two bodies to impress on Traditional Authorities to reserve spaces for the public good when demarcating land for human settlements.
The simulation exercise is being done in collaboration with sister security agencies and the North Dakota National Guard from the United States of America with funding from the Government of the United States of America, acting through its Embassy in Accra.
In 2018, emergency response agencies and other stakeholder institutions in disaster management successfully conducted a full-scale simulated damaging earthquake event in Accra.
The exercise tested the national response readiness and capabilities.
The outcome, the NADMO Boss, said revealed a good coordination system, warm cooperation among agencies and an appreciably high level of professionalism.
He, however, said gaps identified were noted and efforts were made to address them.
Major Jarrod Simek of the United States Embassy Office of Security Cooperation noted that current disasters around the world was a wake-up call for all nations and reiterated the need for all hands on deck to prepare effectively for any future emergencies.
He said the relationship between NADMO and his office dated back 15 years ago and expressed the hope for a longer bilateral friendship.
The North Dakota Adjutant General and Director of Emergency Service, Major General Al Dohrmann, said all responsive agencies needed to be ready for all emergency cases.
The team will conduct simulation exercises at Tema Fishing Habour, Kpando, and Trade Fair Center, La.