Over 20 communities in the Sissala East Municipality, in the Upper West Region of Ghana, have been cut off from Tumu by 12 hours of torrential rain.
A concrete bridge connecting Tumu to the communities has been washed away, leaving a block of concrete hanging in the middle of the road.
Some local people say they fear for their lives because of the excess water and the depth of the washed-off soil. “It might be dangerous for pedestrians to use it,” they say.
Anass from Kassana, one of the communities affected, said: “We are mourning. It’s a big funeral for all the over 20 communities.
“This is the farming season and we cannot bring fertiliser and other farm inputs to the place. This is more serious than the last flood.”
Speaking on Radford FM in Tumu, Anass said: “We can’t go to Tumu today and nobody can visit us, not even a motorbike can cross. Women in labour or sick persons who will need medical services cannot get it, as no motor, vehicle or bicycle can cross.”
The affected communities include Kassana, Kassannpouri, Tanla, Tanvieli and Kunsola.
These communities have a large acreage of maize fields, which are cultivated every year because the arable land here is particularly fertile. They are located about 15 kilometres from the capital of Sissala East, Tumu.
The rains started at about 1am on Tuesday 14 July 2020 and did not stop until about noon on Wednesday 15 July. Workers and farmers were practically trapped in their homes by the intensity of the rain.
Checks revealed that the main Tumu dam embankment may break if the rains continue. The Navariwie Bridge, which runs between Tumu and Navrongo, can render the highway impassable if not checked, given the increasing volume of water.
Already there are reports that some vehicles and passengers are stranded. A group of passengers travelling from Bolgatanga to Tumu on Wednesday said: “It’s dangerous to cross to the other side. We are waiting for the water to subside.”
Health personnel from the Sissala West directorate of health who were on their way to Jeffisi Market on Wednesday were forced to cancel a social mobilisation exercise for children after the Jeffisi-to-Gwollu stretch of the road became flooded.
Emmanuel Narh, a health professional, said, “When we drove from Gwollu to the area Wednesday morning, we noticed that there is a box culvert which is yet to be constructed. But the entire area was flooded, so it was risky to pass.
“The area had been covered by the water to a depth of close to ten metres. We found this when the driver used a stick to measure it, and this made us abandon the SMC programme, as it was risky.”
He said, “Being market day, it would have been easy for us to reach everyone, including those from the adjoining communities, to hear the information on seasonal malaria chemotherapy. We only wasted fuel and our time.”
Last year, the same portion of the highway between Tumu and Navrongo had been washed away when the British High Commissioner to Ghana, Iain Walker, visited Tumu to start his charitable bicycle ride. The metal bridge became flooded and since then the contractor has not given it much attention.