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Regional News of Friday, 20 January 2023


Apiate Explosion: Residents still struggling to survive, one year after disaster

The Appiatse explosion occurred on January 20, 2022 play videoThe Appiatse explosion occurred on January 20, 2022

Correspondence from the Western Region

It was almost mid-day on January 20, 2022, when an explosion occurred at Appiatse, a community near Bogoso in the Prestea Huni Valley Municipality of the Western Region where thirteen people died on the spot and several others got injured.

Three others died later, bringing the total number of deaths to sixteen.

Properties were destroyed, after all, buildings in the Appiatse community of about a thousand population were razed down due to the explosion rendering all residents homeless.

The explosion happened as a result of a crash between a motorbike and a truck carrying explosive material from Maxam Company Ltd being transported by a subcontractor, Arthaans Logistics, to Chirano Gold Mines.

The part of the road where the truck was waiting after it caught fire caved in very deeply after the explosion, destroying that portion of the road and tearing the truck into small invisible particles.

The explosion brought together health, safety and security services including the Ghana National Fire Service, Ghana Police service, and Ambulance Service among others to see to it that victims were rescued safely.

Due to the collapse of houses, the Municipal Chief Executive, Dr Isaac Dasmani and the Municipal NADMO office found a temporary place for victims at the Bogoso Roman Catholic Parish Hall to pass the night. They were provided with food items, mattresses, and some clothing, after which the Appiatse Disaster Relief Committee was formed to see to the proper management of the victims.

They were later moved to the Dumase settlement, a new community being constructed by Future Global Resources to settle temporarily. Donations began pouring in from various companies, organizations, government agencies, international organisations and individuals to support the victims. Goldfields Ghana Ltd and the Red Cross Society donated some tents that were erected to serve as a temporary residence for the victims at the new settlement called the Appiatse Relief Camp.

Currently, they have all been moved from the tents to the uncompleted resettlement buildings, where they feel more secure than in the tents.

The Prestea Huni Valley Municipal Chief Executive, Dr Isaac Dasmani described the incident as very unfortunate as residents of that community had to start their lives all over again.

He said the relief committee had to rely on donor support to take care of the victims.

He explained that “all the donations that people brought were brought to the warehouse at the camp where we distribute to all those there and those outside. Unfortunately, some of the injured people were not living in Appiatse, some are living in Tarkwa, Takoradi and Kumasi, so every month, we provided food and the necessary things for them based on the data we have”.

The injuries

Many had their legs, arms, and other parts of their bodies broken as a result of the explosion with some still having parts of metals within their bodies.
Sadat Sule, a nineteen-year-old boy for instance, had his belly open with his intestines hanging out.

“The blast lifted me and landed me on a foundation, so when I woke up, I saw that blood was dripping from the white vest I was wearing. I lifted my vest and realized that my intestines were out,” he recounted how he saw the explosion.

Another victim recounted “when I heard the blast, I didn't see anything again. I woke up and realized I was bleeding in my thigh, a metal had entered my thigh like that. They did an operation to remove it. I was admitted for about a week and I was discharged. But the problem I have now is that I experience pains in my heart and feel dizzy with some kind of pressure and small illness.”

There are others who cannot hear or see well due to what they went through.

According to the MCE, “about eight people are paralyzed who cannot walk, so those are the people we are concentrating on now to provide them with support”.

Life after the disaster

One year on, life has not been easy for the victims as they lost everything they had, bringing their lives to ground zero. People who were in their businesses lost everything to the explosion, including money.

Madam Christina Koba, one of the victims said “before the disaster, we had something small we could use for our upkeep but now there is nothing. Though we have been receiving support but now things are hard, so we are appealing to the government to come to our aid."

Although people lost their businesses, most of them have been able to put bits and pieces together to start their lives again.

One of the victims, Hannah Akrule who was a seamstress prior to the disaster, now has to go to the Bogoso market every Saturday for alterations to get money to take care of her children. She is also operating a fufu pounding machine and a small store to make ends meet.

Another victim, Florence Afful said she had gone for a loan to boost her business but she lost everything to the disaster. She had to go for another loan of Two Thousand Ghana Cedis to start a small store at the relief camp in order to feed the family.

Some of these women who have begun these small businesses were supported by the International Organization for Migration and other organisations, to start their lives again.

Support Funds

Two funds were set up to receive donations for the victims; the Appiatse Disaster Relief Fund to take care of the victims and the day-to-day running of the relief camp chaired by the MCE and the Appiatse Support Fund, chaired by Dr Joyce Aryee for the rebuilding of Appiatse community.

But this has caused lots of confusion in the minds of the people. According to Thywil Quashie, “most of the donations were made to the Appiatse Support Fund and not to the Relief Fund creating confusion in the minds of the victims that the committee receives a lot of money but they don’t share it for the victims.”

He confirmed that “we receive cash donations, but those monies are used in paying the hospital bills of the victims and transportation for their reviews at the hospital.”

He added that “just last week, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor visited the camp and donated Fifteen Thousand Cedis (GHC15,000). If we are to share this money to one thousand and thirty-six (1,036) victims, each one will receive fourteen cedis (GHC14), what can you do with that money?”

He called for more cash donations to the Disaster Relief Fund to pay the huge bills of those who are still in critical condition.

Rebuilding of Appiatse

The Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia on Friday, January 21, 2022, paid a visit to the victims where he, on behalf of the government assured them of rebuilding the Appiatse community.

One year down the line, the reconstruction is progressing steadily. GhanaWeb’s visit to the reconstruction site indicates that some of the buildings were at the roofing level, and others at the lentil and footing stages. Brick moulding machines were erected on site with workers busily moulding the bricks to ensure a constant supply of bricks.

Public Relations Officer of the Appiaste Disaster Relief Committee, Thywil Quashie noted that the new community is an ultra-modern rural community that has all the necessary facilities needed in a house.

He explained that “each house household will have a toilet and bath with kitchen, whether you had one or not before the disaster. There are two Poly tanks for every house, one will store rainwater to flush the toilet and the other for potable water. This is the kind of house they will be living in.”

According to the MCE, Dr Dasmani, the people of Appiatse are expected to move to their new abode latest by the end of 2023.

Maxam Ghana Ltd fined

Although the government fined Maxam Six Million Dollars, the chief of the community, Nana Kwagir and his community folks are of the view that the fine was not enough.

According to Nana Kwagyir, if the company comes out with a better deal to compensate the victims, it will assuage their pains.

He, therefore, called on the government to impress upon Maxam to compensate the community, due to the bad state the company has put them in.

Appreciation to donors

While requesting more support, the Deputy NADMO director, Lewis Afful expressed his profound gratitude to all companies, organisations and individuals who have been donating to the community from day one of the disasters to date.

According to him, the donations are enormous and have helped in taking care of the victims from day one of the disaster till a year now.

“But for these donations, how could we have taken care of them? We share food, clothes and others all the time the people at the camp here,” he added.

He is calling for more support, cash and kindness to give the people continuous support till they come back to their normal lives.

Activities to mark one year commemoration

As part of the one-year commemoration, the committee put together a five-day programme which began on Wednesday, January 18, and will end on Sunday, January 22, 2023.

It begun with a clean-up exercise on Wednesday morning, a vigil to show a documentary on the disaster on Thursday, a safety lecture, memorial prayer and wreath laying exercise all on Friday, indoor games on Saturday and a Thanksgiving service on Sunday.