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General News of Saturday, 10 November 2012

Source: Daily Guide

Melcom Landlord In Hot Water

The man at the centre of the raging controversy over the collapsed six-storey Melcom Mall at Achimota in Accra, Nana Nkansah Ayeboafo Boadu, yesterday turned himself in to the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) after speculations became rife that he was wanted by the security agencies.

The owner had been missing for the past three days.

Nana Boadu is said to be the chief of Ashanti Nzema in the Ashanti Region

A number of bodies were retrieved from the debris of the building, with the latest being the General Manager of the branch, Gerald Berhene.

Accra Mayor Alfred Vanderpuije moved to court early yesterday morning to secure an order of interlocutory injunction to be placed on four other properties owned by Nana Boadu, in the Achimota area suspected to be in a similar condition as the collapsed building.

That, he said, was to enable the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) to assess the ability of the buildings to withstand the test of time.

The court has issued a three-day ultimatum for occupants of the said properties, which are in the same enclave with the collapsed building including one occupied by Fidelity and Standard Chartered Banks, to vacate.

Mr Vanderpuije told journalists that the collapsed six-storey building was put up “without any approval and without any permit”.

Contrary to claims by government that Nana Nkansah did not have a building permit covering the collapsed building, he insists he has one and other relevant documents relating to the other properties in question.

Rising Death Toll

On the third day of the disaster, which occurred in the early hours of Wednesday, there were conflicting reports about the death toll, with official figures being pegged at 12 persons, with four others either gone missing or dead, whilst 78 others were said to have been rescued so far.

The management of the Melcom chain of stores yesterday put out the names of Lucy Ampofo, Neils Lutterodt, Eric Bio, Samuel Gyaman, Ruth Atingah, Sandra Ofosu, Judith Asantewaa, Victoria Amposah and Jacob Mensah, as workers who had gone missing.

But it later emerged that the General Manager and Neils Lutterodt were indeed dead whilst Sandra Owusu was alive but Eric Bio, Samuel Gyaman and Ruth Atinga were still missing.

It emerged that five other persons who were thought to have gone missing were off duty on that fateful day.

Rescue workers claimed yesterday they heard the voices of some persons believed to be still alive but trapped in a mangled elevator in the collapsed building, with pungent smell beginning to emit from the debris.

Four people were identified as still being alive under the wreckage. The rescue mission denied that 18 people had died, even though initial reports suggested that nine more bodies were discovered on Thursday evening. Four of the victims, including a pregnant woman, were buried under slabs of stones.

The Israeli rescue team has been using a sniffer dog to help locate those buried under the rubble.

Nana Boadu’s Rebuttal

Nana Boadu, who spoke on various radio networks yesterday, accepted responsibility but expressed utter dismay at the claims that he did not have a building permit covering the building.

He has since indicated his preparedness to tender the needed documents as evidence.

“I have a file full of documents and receipts showing the building permit fees. And so anyone who will say that we don’t have a permit is just trying to play mischief,” he said, insisting, “It is not my wish for the building to collapse. There is no way I will put up a building and do a shoddy work.”

He said, “I will plead that the right thing will be said and also allow for investigations. I am so sad but I accept every blame… I have tried to get in touch with the contractor but to no avail but we have not given up; I am sure we will get in touch with him soon. Every document needed to help in the investigations, I will provide.”

Nana Boadu, a contractor, disclosed that he visited the shop on Monday and noticed that heavy appliances and drinks were being carried to the top floor which he spoke against but no one heeded his word. He declared his willingness to bear the cost of investigations into the cause of the collapse of the building in order to establish the facts. Nana Addo’s Support

Presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo visited the scene yesterday and donated GH¢10, 000 to support victims of the disaster.

He was at the 37 Military Hospital as well where some of the victims are receiving treatment.

Nana Addo made this known when he visited some of the victims on admission at the 37 Military Hospital.

He assured the victims that investigation would be carried out to ensure that persons responsible for the disaster were brought to book.

The NPP candidate expressed his condolences to the bereaved families.

Addressing the joint taskforce responsible for the evacuation of trapped persons, the NPP flagbearer commended the security agencies and Ghanaians in general for the show of love and patriotism exhibited so far.

He called for more resources for security agencies to enable them to fully undertake rescue missions in the country.

He was grateful to the government and people of Israel for their support to Ghana in such trying times.

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