General News of Friday, 9 November 2012

Source: Pius K. Dogbey/The Republic

‘Killer’ Melcom Building Owner Uncovered

Investigations conducted by The Republic into the possible causes of the collapsed six-storey building that used to house the Achimota Branch of the popular department store in the country, Melcom, on Wednesday morning, has revealed that the accident is largely due to the inferior quality of materials used in construction and the mean nature of its owner.
Information gathered by this paper confirmed that the building has no permit from the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other relevant institutions that are vest with technical and professional oversight of such construction works in the country.
According to a Glass Glazer who gave his name only as Nicholas, and worked on the building during its construction stages, the land upon which the building used to stand is a wet land thus, requiring special attention by the constructors, but this basic requirement was ignored while work went on at a cheetah’s pace.
He also confirmed allegations of the quality of materials used in constructing the building saying, the owner, one Nana Kwasi Buodu, is a mean man by nature and will not spend his money buying anything of high quality for any of his numerous building projects all over the country.
Nicholas further revealed that, Kwasi Buodu owns the biggest filling station in the Kumasi Metropolis, the Asokwa Mobil Station, which got gutted by fire after the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), station exploded a few years ago and claimed a couple of lives.
He is further cited for owning an eight storey building just behind the filling station, which got confiscated by the then J.J Rawlings government for not acquiring the necessary permits, and on a more serious grounds that the building did not meet the standard requirements for such a huge project like that.
Information also has it that, Nana Kwasi Buodu is currently battling a court case brought against him by some of the constructors and workers who executed the collapsed Melcom building project for not paying what is rightly due them. This suggests that, the man does not pay due diligence to the quality of materials used in his projects and the incentives paid to his workers for quality delivery.
According to Nicholas, the common man on the street, who does not have any knowledge in construction engineering, can tell from the onset that the pillars raised for the building are not strong and big enough to support the weight of the building, more or less, the people and materials that will be occupying it.
He therefore said it did not come to him as a surprise when news broke out on Wednesday morning about the collapsed building. “I always foresee it coming and I was not surprise it happened that faithful on Wednesday” he said.
Asked why he did not report to the appropriate authorities about the realities on the ground, our source said, Nana Buodu is a major financier of the New Patriotic Party and has his way through the ranks and files of the party, thus, making him very influential. He therefore does not see the sense in a small boy like him (Nicholas) taking Nana on.
Nana Kwasi Buodu, who happens to be the chief of Agric-Nzema in Kumasi, is also reported to be the owner and resides in the building that houses the Standard Chartered Bank, just close to the collapsed Melcom shopping complex.
Before work begun on the collapsed six storey building, the place was originally owned by one Nana Heema, who used it as a block factory. She later constructed on the plot, three stores and a toilet, meant for the workers use, but was later turned to a public toilet due to the number of outsiders who troop to patronise the facility.
She was allegedly contacted by Nana Buodu who expressed interest in buying the plot for a bigger construction project and promised to offer the ground floor to her when the project is completed, but this proposal was turned down by Nana Heema. Later, Buodu allegedly used his political connections to take the land away from its original owner.
He then begun building the six-storey building on the plot and upon completion, the place was rented out to the Melcom retail shop operators until the unfortunate incident on Wednesday morning, without fulfilling his promise of giving the ground floor to the rightful owner of the land.
It is therefore a laudable idea for the President, John Dramani Mahama, to constitute a committee to look into the possible causes leading to the collapsed of the building and the persons found culpable should not go unpunished since people’s lives are at stake.
Expert Engineer, Clement Kojo Amole whose opinion was sorted by The Republic noted that the mode of collapse of the building is a clear indication of poor material quality and wrong sizes of reinforcement coupled with poor quality of Supervision.
“A physical examination of debris reveals that the collapse was progressive from mid-height of the building”, intimated Mr. Amole who is also a member of the Ghana Civil Engineers Association.