The twenty-six (26) year-old Aklakpanu-Sayikope steel bridge on the Mafi Adidome-Juapong main road in the North Tongu District of the Volta Region has collapsed. The bridge went down around 10.30 pm on Thursday, 25th January 2024, with a man diesel cargo truck with registration number GR 7325-17.
The truck was carrying some six hundred (600) bags of twenty-five (25) kilograms of salt from Sege-Ada in the Ada West District of the Greater Accra Region and headed for Kpassa in the Nkwanta North District of the Oti Region.
The bridge, about sixty (60) to seventy (70) metres in length, was constructed in 1998 by Kasap Construction Company Limited. It is one of the two (2) steel bridges in addition to one (1) concrete one linking several communities between Adidome in Central Tongu and Juapong in the North Tongu District. It has yet to see any major renovation or maintenance work since its construction twenty-six (26) years ago.
The bridge was one of the facilities severely hit by last year’s spillage of the Akosombo and Kpong dams, worsening its structural integrity. Residents told our news team that alarms had been raised about the weak state of the bridge for some time now, but such concerns were flatly ignored by the road authorities concerned. In October last year, notices were put up at both ends of the bridge, alerting pedestrians and other road users not only about the deteriorating state of the facility but also its maximum load of twenty-five (25) tonnes it could take.
The driver of the truck, Mr. Enoch Wakpar Nfojuni, told our news team that he and the driver mate were the only two (2) occupants of the vehicle with no casualties recorded. According to him, when they got to the middle part of the steel portion of the bridge, it suddenly caved in, largely submerging the truck and getting them trapped in the front compartment of the vehicle. He lauded the efforts of the youth of the two (2) sister communities of Sayikope and Aklakpanu, saying it took the efforts and benevolence of their residents to urgently come to their rescue.
Mr. Enoch Nfojuni said he has been using this route for the past one (1) year, explaining that the poor nature of the Akatsi-Wute-Ho and the other link roads has compelled him to be using this route which according to him is also shorter.
Residents of the two (2) communities and beyond besieged the disaster site yesterday to catch a glimpse of the situation. Market women, pedestrians, and other motorists from both directions of the road either returned or were ferried across the stream which is one of the tributaries of the Lake Volta.
A number of the local boys were busily seen throughout yesterday, diving into the water to salvage part of the salt and the almost empty fertilizer bags. Unfortunately, this is the same water the people still use for their domestic and other uses.
The Assembly Member for the Dadome Electoral Area, Hon. Christian Ameglah, described the incident as a disaster, saying the signs of the imminent collapse of the bridge were written on the walls as far back as two (2) years ago, accusing the authorities of doing nothing about it. His assertion was corroborated by a teacher at the St. Anthony R.C. Basic School, Husikope, Mr. Anthony Gligbe who argued that the situation would have been avoided if the needful was done. Some residents of the area also felt that the concrete platforms holding the steel portions of the bridge from both ends were either poorly constructed or not well thought through.
The Assembly Member for the Mepe Electoral Area, Hon. Amos Borlor Ahorsu, bemoaned the lack of maintenance culture that is continuously creeping into the fabric of Ghanaian society. He called on the government and those put at the helm of affairs, to be honest and truthful in the discharge of their responsibilities to the state.
The Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu, Hon. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa led a six (6) member delegation of constituency party executives to the disaster scene in a canoe and on a motorbike from Mepe through Titikope to Aklakpanu. He immediately arranged for some twenty (20) life jackets for the local boys to ferry pedestrians particularly school children across the stream. He also made some money available for the four (4) canoe operators to enable them to ferry the passengers across the stream free of charge.
Mr. Ablakwa described the situation as an attestation to the fact that the spillage of the recent Akosombo and Kpong dams has caused great havoc to many communities and the thousands of people affected by what he described as the self-induced spillage.
According to him, the disaster is a wake-up call for the government not only to urgently come to the aid of the people but also to tackle the bigger picture of a weakened infrastructure occasioned by the spillage disaster.
The North Tongu lawmaker called on the Ministry of Roads and Highways to urgently step in to restore such a strategic asset or bridge to bring back the economic livelihoods of the people. ‘I hope this latest disaster will trigger an expeditious action from government so that all the lingering matters resulting from the spillage would be addressed permanently’, Hon. Ablakwa emphasized.
The North Tongu MP believed that the bridge disaster is a stuck reminder that even though the flood waters have receded, they have left in their wake lots of damage to property and livelihoods that must be fixed by the government.
The collapse of this strategic facility means motorists from either Adidome to Juapong or vice versa would have to reroute their trips through Titikope, Dadome, and other poor link roads in the enclave to do their businesses or get to their destinations.
About ninety (90) school children of the St. Anthony R. C Basic School at Husikope who live in some four communities on the Adidome end, including Masape, Sayikope, Anekpo, and parts of Tsetsekpo, will have to use canoes across the stream to school from Monday.