Regional News of Monday, 17 July 2017
Two bridges in the Brong Ahafo and Upper East regions have collapsed, disrupting socio-economic activities in the affected areas.
They are a wooden bridge over the Tano River at Nobekaw, which links the Asunafo South District and the Asutifi South District in the Brong-Ahafo Region, and the Tambe bridge that links the Garu-Tempane District to the Bawku Municipality in the Upper East Region.
From Sunyani Emmanuel Adu-Gyamerah reports that three students of the Nobekaw Junior High School (JHS) escaped death narrowly when the Tano bridge in the area collapsed last Wednesday.
Fortunately, two of the three students who were crossing the bridge when the incident occurred managed to swim out of the river and saved their mate who did not know how to swim.
The students, Abass Seidu, 16, Ebenezer Ochere, 16 and Enoch Antwi, 15, were returning from Nobekaw in the Asunafo South District where they attend school to Kwakunyuma, near Mehame in the Asutifi South District.
Residents of the area have been using the bridge, which has been in a deplorable state for so many years now, but the situation worsened last month when the area experienced series of torrential rains leading to the overflow of the river.
More than eight communities in the area have been using the wooden bridge.
Kwakunyunma and its surrounding communities have been hit hardest because of the absence of social amenities in the area.
The collapse of the bridge has halted socio-economic activities at Kwakunyuma and Nobekaw, including the surrounding villages. This is because residents of the two districts cross the river daily to transact businesses.
Teachers and students, who have been crossing the bridge to school, have since July 12, 2017 not been able to go to school.
The residents, who are mostly subsistence farmers, cannot transport their produce for sale in the major markets outside the area, while it has become very difficult to access health care in an emergency situation.
Means of transport
As a temporary measure, a-23-year old farmer, Mr Solomon Ozoro, has acquired a canoe to ferry people across the river at a cost of GH¢5.00 per person.
Call for help
After visiting the area to assess the situation, the District Chief Executive (DCE) for Asutifi South, Mr Robert Dwomoh Mensah, called on the central government to assist the assembly to construct a proper bridge to replace the collapsed one.
He pleaded with the Ministry of Roads and Highways to consider the plight of the people and add the district to the list of beneficiaries of the bridges to be constructed under an agreement between Ghana and China, which was signed when the Vice-President, Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, visited China recently.
In another development, Vincent Amenuveve reports from Bolgatanga that the Tambe bridge collapsed last Thursday, making it difficult for trucks, mostly loaded with cereals, to cross from Garu-Tempane District to the southern sector.
The development has compelled residents to find cumbersome alternative routes to get to Bawku.
The District Chief Executive for Garu-Tempane, Mr Emmanuel Avoka, told the Daily Graphic that the collapse of the bridge was due to lack of routine maintenance since it was constructed in 2007.
He observed that owing to the ongoing construction of the Tamne Irrigation Dam in the district, about 30 heavy duty trucks plied the bridge several times within a day, thus putting a lot of pressure on the bridge.
Mr Avoka was, however, of the view that if routine maintenance works had been carried out on the bridge, the situation could have been prevented.
Reports, he said, indicated that some individuals had been going there at night to loosen some of the bolts and nuts holding the bridge.
"Looking at the level of collapse of this bridge,it will require a high-level technical expertise to fix it," he noted.
He further disclosed that he had informed the regional minister, Mr Rockson Bukari, and the Member of Parliament for the area about the situation and hopefully this week something would be done about it.
Mr Avoka further stated that owing to the collapse of the bridge, residents and other commuters from the area now spent about three hours to get to Bawku whereas when the bridge was functional, they used only 20 minutes to make the journey
He indicated that commuters now passed through Garu-Tempane to Gagbiri through Bugri and then to Bawku.
The DCE was also of the view that the construction of the Tamne Irrigation Dam, although a step in the right direction, had eventually blocked water from flowing freely hence putting extra pressure on other smaller bridges built over smaller rivers which might collapse as more rains set in.
Meanwhile, residents have made an urgent appeal to the authorities to fix the bridge quickly to facilitate the free movement of goods and services.