Accra, , GNA -The Weija Lake would be extinct by 2021 due to pollution and encroachment on the banks if immediate pragmatic steps are not taken to reverse the situation, an environmentalist raised the alarm on Thursday.
Mr Joshua Awuku-Apaw, Executive Director of Earth Service, an NGO on Sustainable Development, said “According to experts, if things are allowed to go at this rate, within 10 years, the lake will become like the Korle, so bad that no organism can survive in it.”
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in Accra, he said, currently only four fish species were caught in the Weija Lake, adding the fishes had shrunk in size, a clear but gloomy warning of upcoming worst things.
Mr Awuku-Apaw added that communities living along the banks of the lake had cleared large portions of the vegetation surrounding the lake for farming purposes.
“This has caused the lake to be losing much water due to the drying up of the moisture content of lands surrounding it. As a result of the surrounding land losing protective cover, anytime it rains, sheet erosion transfers huge volumes of sand into the water body causing much siltation and its attendant problems,” he said.
Mr Awuku-Apaw said some individuals living close to the dam engaged in wood harvesting for energy purposes, an activity that further destroyed the vegetative cover of the lake.
He said both liquid and solid wastes were daily dumped into the lake.
Mr Awuku-Apaw said, “Due to the poor waste management practices of Ghanaians, communities living along the banks of the lake tend to use the lake as a refuse receptacle pouring anything unwanted into the water body; household refuse, faecal matter, dead bodies, and so forth.”
“As a matter of fact, the pollution happens along the entire course of the river Densu, from Koforidua through Mangoase to Nsawam until everything finally assembles in the lake at Weija.”
Mr Awuku-Apaw observed that pollution of the lake had been compounded as a result of several industrial and commercial activities carried out at the Weija Township.
“Within the catchment can be found people engaged in various occupations. One can find sand winners, stone crackers, the fisher folk, fishmongers, drivers and their mates, mechanics and people whose activities are less noticeable,” he added.
Mr Awuku-Apaw said the presence of a Police Check Point and a toll booth had worsened matters as a result of the upsurge of hawkers and other vendors in the community.
He noted that the waste they generated might cost the Ghana Water Company Limited huge sums of money to apply chemicals to remove excessive pollutants with consequential effects on aquatic life.
Mr Awuku-Apaw observed that structures, ranging from storey buildings, palatial mansions, industries, kraals, hotels, ghettoes, mud houses and huts, had sprung up within the green belt.
He noted that some of the perpetrators had political leanings thus making it difficult to stop them.
Mr Awuku-Apaw suggested that strong political will, strengthening of the Judiciary and relevant institutions would help to clamp down on activities of these “ecological militias.”
He proposed the re-demarcation of Weija catchment so that structures within the prohibited zone could be demolished to save the dam from collapse.
“For a long term solution, the place must be made a military zone with a regiment of soldiers permanently garrisoned there to protect the national asset, lives and properties of individuals.”
The Weija Dam, arguably the second largest water reservoir in the country after the Volta reservoir, was constructed in 1978 by an Italian company, Messrs Tahi.
It is said to be the second urban water system to be constructed in Ghana, after Birimso in Cape Coast. The lake is formed over the Densu River in the Ga South Municipality traveling a distance of about 116 kilometres from the Atiwa mountains where it takes its source.
The river traverses through three Regions: Eastern, Central and Greater Accra where it enters the sea at Bortianor in the Ga South Municipality.
The Weija lake covers an area of about 9,000 square hectares and serves over 2.5 million people in Accra East and West.