Since the stadium disaster which struck the nation in 2001, Ghana has not experienced any major disaster to the magnitude of what happened in Accra yesterday. The structure housing the Melcom Shopping Mall at Achimota, a suburb of Accra, caved in, killing three workers and trapping several others. As at the time of going to press yesterday, rescue efforts were still ongoing to save the lives of those still trapped under the debris.
President Mahama, who was on a campaign tour of the Upper East Region, was compelled to cut short his programme and rush down to Accra, when the news about the disaster reached him.
The opposition political party leadership equally rushed to the scene of the accident to express their sympathy to those who lost their relatives and the injured.
The Chronicle joins hands with the other Ghanaians to express our heartfelt sympathy to all those who lost their loved ones, and we wish speedy recovery to those who have been injured.
We, however, wish to state that this is not the first time this kind of disaster has struck the nation, except that the magnitude is not up to the scale we experienced yesterday. This raises questions as to whether our city authorities are really enforcing the building regulations.
Before one puts up a building, the person must first submit his or her building plan to the city authorities, who would study it to ascertain whether it conforms to standard regulations, before a permit is issued to commence the construction work.
It is our contention that if the owners of the Melcom building had the right permit to build the six storey building, then the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) cannot escape blame over the collapse of the building, since they scrutinised the building plan before issuing the permit for construction work to start.
The Chronicle is, therefore, urging the security agencies to question officials at the Town and Country Planning Department of the AMA and their building inspectors to tell Ghanaians about the root cause of the disaster, and why they must not be held responsible for what has happened.
The authorities must not accept the excuse, which we see as an afterthought, that the AMA did not issue a permit for the owner to put up the structure.
Even if the owners of the building did not obtain a permit, that does not still exculpate the building inspectors from being charged for negligence of duty. They could have still stopped the builders from continuing with the project, which they failed to do.
Human life is irreplaceable, and that is why we take serious exception to what has happened. It is our hope that investigations would not stall immediately the rescue mission is over, but would continue to its logical conclusion, to prevent a future occurrence of a similar disaster.