It has emerged that the Ghana Tourism Authority and the Ministry of Tourism were informed about the possible collapse of the Bunso canopy walkway, five months before yesterday’s tragedy.
General Manager of travel and tour company, LANDTOURS, Mawuli Dzebu told Joy News’ Kemini Amanor he drew the attention of the relevant authorities to conditions at Bunso as far back as March.
He said he visited the facility with some tourists but abandoned plans to use the canopy when he observed that the structure was not in good shape. “We realized it wasn’t safe so we didn’t use it,” he stated.
Upon his return, he said, he immediately sent an email on March 16 informing the Director of the Ghana Tourism Authority, the board chairman of the authority and the supervising sector minister about the poor structure at Bunso.
In the email, Mr. Dzebu asked whether the site was licensed, whether the owners had developed and posted how the bridge could be sued, whether structural engineers had inspected and certified it as safe.
He received no response from any of the people he emailed about his concerns.
On Republic Day, 1st July, 20 persons sustained several degrees of injuries when the about 38 meters high canopy fell. One person is in critical condition. They were part of about 3,000 people gathered at the Bonsu Aboretum tourism facility in the Eastern Region to observe the holiday.
Joy News’ Kofi Siaw who visited the victims at various hospitals said the health officials there said the people were responding to treatment.
Fifteen of them were sent to the Hawa Memorial Hospital but the one in critical condition was transferred to the Koforidua Government Hospital; the rest were admitted at the Tafo Government Hospital.
Meanwhile, the Eastern Regional Minister Antwi-Boasiako Sekyere has paid a visit to the Bunso Aboretum site to ascertain the seriousnes of the accident, Joy News Haruna Wumpuni reported.
In his interaction with the managers of the facility, he enquired whether the facility has the licence to operate. Haruna reported a management member telling the delegation that the facility is credible because it has received certification from an insurance company.
The managers appeared to be overwhelmed by the number of persons who fail to use the approved route to the facility, which they suspect brought undue pressure on the walkway, leading to its eventual collapse.
Kenneth Akuffo Asare, who has over 20 years experience in managing such facilities, and who is one of the maintenance officers of the Bunso walkway said on whenever they are expecting increased number of patrons, steps are taken to have a standby ambulance as well as personnel from the fire and police services in case of any eventuality.
He blamed the victims for illegally accessing the facility when the facility was closed, and therefore failed to follow safety procedure.
“They were on one particular bridge so with their weight, when they reach the middle a tree fell and hit the cable so the cable came down with them and landed. If it was the cable itself that broke, they will all die because it is about 38 meters from the ground,” Kenneth Asare narrated.