Residents of Accra and, indeed, Ghanaians as a whole woke up to the disturbing story about a collapsed building at nii Boi town, a suburb of Accra, last thursday.
One person lost his life and others sustained injuries and various degrees of inconvenience, including loss of property as a result of the avoidable accident. It could have been worse. The collapse was significant because it was a d?j? vu. It brings to the fore, once more, the irresponsibility which is the feature of public service in the country and the fact that the Melcom tragedy, which occurred last year, bears similar characteristics somewhat with this. Both structures manifested dangerous signs about which concerns were raised but nothing was done to avert the bloodshed that eventually followed.
Residents in the general area of the collapsed structure raised concerns and had genuine cause to contact the owner who dismissed their fears as groundless.
The Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), the authorities responsible for giving the nod for building constructions in the city, appeared to have shirked their critical responsibility. It was glaring that when the Chief Executive Officer of the assembly turned up at the disaster site, he was subtly heckled by residents. They accused the AMA of compromising their positions; although we are unable to substantiate the allegation, we can, however, point out that there is evidence of irresponsibility in the work of the assembly.
Under normal circumstances, the construction of a structure of the magnitude of the collapsed building should be preceded by acquisition of building permits and procedures such as soil tests.
The foregone were subtly waivered. The owner of the building is said to have assured those who complained about the danger posed by the structure that he was on the verge of acquiring a permit.
Building inspectors who are required to order the stoppage of constructions when these do not conform to standards, it would appear, have been found wanting in their work under the circumstances.
We are finding it difficult to understand how such a structure got to the level it did without official query raised by the many AMA building inspectors who roam the city with gallons of red paint ready to inscribe, ?Stop Work! Produce Permit,? on even hen coops.
As usual, important public office holders, government appointees such as ministers and others, would throng such disaster sites sympathizing with victims and promising all manner of support as they did Thursday morning.
Contractors are arrested for the cameras but sooner than later when the dust is settled, these persons are released and a closure is forcefully enacted.
Whatever happened to the Melcom case? And now this! In a country where failed public office holders do not resign their appointments until they are sacked ignominiously, the AMA Chief Executive Officer, we can bet, would maintain his position, business as usual.