The continuous issuance of building permits for construction in earthquake-prone areas remains a threat in the wake of recent earth tremors, according to the Ghana Geological Survey Authority.
The Authority in December 2018, warned of an imminent earthquake following a series of tremors that shook parts of Accra.The most recent tremor on March 2 measured 3.9 on the Richter Scale.
People living around Gbawe, Sowutuom, Old Kasoa Barrier, New Bortianor, Awoshie, Abelemkpe, Tabora, Achimota, Ablekuma, Kisseiman, Westland, Laterbiokorshie, Legon and McCarthy Hill experienced the tremor.
Speaking to Citi News on the sidelines of the Ghana Institution of Engineering’s evening session series on the impact of heightened seismic activity, Senior Seismologist at the Geological Survey Authority, Nicholas Opoku, warned Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies to stop issuing building permits in such areas.
“They [the assemblies] are supposed to know better so that they avoid those areas; fault zones, unstable mountainous regions, flood-prone areas, water bodies and all those things so it is in their policies.”
Also speaking to Citi News at the same event, the Ghana Institution of Engineering, called for better collaboration to ensure the country’s preparedness for such natural disasters.
Ing. Micheal Obeng Konadu noted that though Ghana is not in an earthquake-prone area of the world, “once it has happened before, it could happen again.”
“We are not saying we are moving towards a big earthquake now. All we are saying is we should improve our level of preparedness by doing things in a more proper manner so that in the highly unlikely event that something ”
Ghana’s history with earthquakes
The last three major earthquakes occurred in Ghana in 1862, 1906 and 1939.
The 1862 Accra earthquake had a magnitude of 6.5 on the Richter Scale and caused three fatalities in addition to the damage to property.
Magnitude 4.6 and 4.9 seismic events also occurred in Accra in 1871 and 1872.
The epicentre of the 1906 earthquake was near Ho collapsing buildings and causing severe damage.
The June 1939 magnitude 6.5 earthquake was the most destructive in Ghana’s history causing an estimated $67.3 million damage.
This seismic event lasted about thirty seconds and killed 17 people and injured about 140. Its intensity centred around James Town.
Right now, the Ministry of Interior has inaugurated a 10-member committee to develop a comprehensive programme for national earthquake preparedness and response.
The committee, chaired by an engineer, Carlien Bou-Chedid, was expected to finish work by April 15, 2019.
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