General News of Friday, 9 November 2012

Source: The Herald

Melcom Building Owner’s Dirty Record Out

…builds at night with no permit

It has emerged that the owner of the Melcom Achimota building, which collapsed last Wednesday, has a – record of putting up buildings at night to avoid attention. He bears the name Nana Kwesi Buadu, who is said to be highly-connected in political cycles.

Indeed, there are claims that he was behind the renovation works at the ex-President Kufuor’s Airport West residence in Accra, using a ghost name, Marfo, claiming to be a farmer.

Nana Kwesi Buadu, has a penchant for building both in the day and the night against the advice of his architects. He owns several building in Accra and Kumasi which are rented out to banks. The buildings have several defects. One of his defective buildings, it is reported was seized during the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) era, The Herald learnt.

The site for the collapsed building, is said to be a public toilet which was snatched by Buadu from its owner, a lady, using his connections within political circles, the military and the judiciary.

Meanwhile, some residents close to the multi-storey department store told Myjoyonline that the Achimota edifice, for instance, “sprung up all of a sudden”.

They claimed that during the construction, the site was fenced so residents could not tell exactly what was going on. “We only saw lights in there and sounds of machines and people working,” one of them recollected.

Nana Buadu, the owner of the Melcom building, has a similar building in Kumasi which city engineers in city have cautioned against as not good for housing people.

Luv News Erastus Donkor reports that he had confrontation with city authorities for building at night and also having no permit for the building.

Our correspondent was told that the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) has had problems with Nana Buadu’s five-storey building, which is close to the Asokwa Interchange in Kumasi, because it had some structural defects.

“It is a huge edifice sitting on small pillars, that is my layman view of it,” he said.

Erastus said the KMA confirmed to him that its engineers did not give the owner permit to put up the building.

Even though, he observed, that the structure looks like it has been abandoned for several years, about four persons are currently occupying the building which is fitted with a lift.

Mr. Clement K. Kegeri, Special Assistance to the Kumasi Mayor remarked: “Our records indicate that our Assembly has not granted him any permit. The information we also gathered from our engineering department indicates that our engineers didn’t supervise the building.

“I can tell you on authority that our engineers are not satisfied with the structural nature of the building, they are of technical view that the building has some structural defects. For that matter they have not approved the building to be used to house people,” he said.

Meanwhile, the immediate past President of the Ghana Institution of Architects, Osei Agyemang, is demanding immediate pragmatic steps to prevent another disaster.

He also called for “a certain rigid of professional procedure” in putting up buildings in the country, regretting “unfortunately” that most contractors do not submit themselves to due process.

“We are not respecting the regulatory framework, we are not abiding by the regulations and procedures that we need to go by,” said he.

Mahama Promotes Brave policeman President John Mahama has ordered the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to promote to the next rank a police officer who got injured while helping to rescue people trapped in Wednesday’s Melcom shop disaster.

The policeman, whose name is not readily known, has reportedly rescued about 14 victims, according to Joy News’ Derick W. Johnson, who was at the scene.

He reported that both of the policeman’s limbs have been bandaged and he is taking a rest.

Derrick quoted the security officer as saying: “I have sacrificed myself to rescue people”.

So far, about 75 people have been rescued and nine confirmed dead.

The President visited the scene again on Thursday afternoon after Isreali rescuers arrived in Ghana to support local efforts.

He vowed to ensure that city authorities were held responsible for the disaster.

Meanwhile, officials of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) have questioned three people in connection with Wednesday’s Melcom shop disaster.

The suspects are believed to have acted negligently, resulting in the collapse of the Achimota branch of the Melcom shop.

Ramesh Sadhwani, 50 years of age and a Co-Managing Director of Melcom, Victor Mensah , also from Melcom and the Works Director of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly have been grilled by the BNI.

Richmond Oduro Kwarteng, the Public Relations Officer of Melcom confirmed this to Joy News.

He said the Co-MD and the other official had been discharged.

Deputy Information Minister Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa said the questioning followed a directive from President John Mahama.

He said it was the view of the President that “too many things have been taken for granted.”

The security agencies are still hunting for the owner of the building, one Nana Kwesi Boadu, who is currently at large.

The nation woke up Wednesday to a rare disaster in which a 6-storey building housing a Melcom Shop collapsed on workers who were having a morning devotion pending the opening of the shop to shoppers.

Rescue teams were rallied and campaign activities of the various political parties were cancelled.

So far, over 70 people have been pulled out of the rubble but so too are the bodies of nine victims.

Israelis Eight members of the 18-man team from Israel to help rescue any remaining survivors in the collapsed Melcom shopping mall disaster have arrived.

Joy News’ Elton John Brobbey, who is at the scene, reported that the foreign rescuers arrived with sniffer dogs.

President John Mahama announced upon his visit to the scene Wednesday that external help had been sought to boost rescue efforts.

A statement signed by the President’s Spokesperson, John Abdulai Jinapor, said an 18-man Israeli team would come and work in close collaboration with the detachment from the Field Engineers Regiment of the Ghana Army currently at the site.

Mr. Jinapor said the team would make an initial assessment of the site using special equipment and sniffer dogs that would help identify the locations of possible survivors or corpses.

He indicated that an additional team of about one hundred and fifty (150) with additional equipment including field hospitals, concrete cutters among others would move to Ghana should the initial assessment deem it necessary.

Joy News Adelaide Arthur, who was at the scene when the foreign rescuers arrived, said a woman who’s daughter had not been found by Thursday afternoon collapsed at the scene.

President Mahama went to the scene again on Thursday shortly after the arrival of the Israelis and addressed the media.

He commended the local rescuers for a good job done so far and vowed that city authorities were going “to be held accountable” for the disaster.

National Coordinator of NADMO, Kofi Kportophy said government would provide assistance in the burial of departed victims.