Although many have described the tragedy that befell some students at the Kintampo waterfall as a natural disaster, I hold a contrary view because of some factors that led to the sad accident.
As an indigent of Kintampo, the last Sunday waterfalls tragedy that took the life of innocent student revelers is a bloat on my conscious and I am sure many residents and indigene must be in the same mood.
For many years, human activities along the streams that feed into the Kintampo waterfalls have had negative impact on the flow of water in the falls.
The flow of water for the past many years has been reducing but civil and public servants paid to manage the resources of the area pretended not to have noticed. In fact, patronage of the Waterfall by indigents of Kintampo has been reducing over the years.
Many of us today prefer to use the ‘Fola Waterfall’ also in the Kintampo Municipal Assembly than the old and popular Kintampo Waterfalls that sadly claimed about 19 lives over the weekend.
The reasoning isn’t far for anyone to guess; the indigenes and residents have noticed over the years that leadership across board have been very irresponsible to nature i.e. the vegetation along the streams that flows into the waterfalls had been encroached upon by farming activity, illegal logging of trees for timber and charcoal and finally construction of residential properties close to some of the streams.
Watching the pictures from various news portals on this tragedy can tell anyone who has once visited the Kintampo Waterfall that even the colour of the water flowing from the falls had changed from the colourless look to now milky, meaning the protective covers have been compromised from source.
It therefore beats my imagination to hear the chief of Kyeremankuma, Nana Effah Guakro, in a Citi Fm interview with Bernard Avle, the host of the Citi FM morning show just a day after the tragic perish of innocent school revelers on a facility that he the Chief have contributed into turning it into a death trap.
Suddenly, Nana Guakro claimed he has trained men who manage the facility but due to a change in political administration these men have been replaced by youth claiming to be members of the New Patriotic Party (NPP). This claim cannot be true because anyone who has visited the facility can attest that for many years especially in the 1990s, entry to the facility was free on ordinary days but tolls were collected on accusations when private individuals had hosted activities at the waterfalls. The practice only changed in few years into the President Kufuor administration when the late Jake Otanka Obitsebi Lamptey was appointed as the Minister of Tourism and Modernization of the Capital city.
As part of efforts to generate funds in developing many abandoned tourists sites in the country, the various Metropolitan, Municipal, District Assemblies(MMDAs) across the country were encourage to raise revenue from these tourists sites on permanent basis as a means of raising funds to develop the sites.
In the case of the Kintampo Waterfall, a private entity was contracted to collect the toll on behalf of the Assembly and after some agitation by the people including Nana Effah Guakro, the contract was cancelled and the District Assembly together with the chief of the area agreed on appointing revenue personnel of the assembly and a representative of the traditional authority for the revenue collection.
Just after the NPP lost the elections in 2008, some youth from the NDC took over the revenue collection of the facility from the Assembly and those revenue collectors lost their job till date.
It’s very sad for a chief of the area to try to caught public sympathy through false representation to the media in Accra whom may not know that the people manning the falls are not tourists guards but mere revenue collectors.
In spite of the huge sums of money collected from tourists at the waterfalls not much investment has been made to up left the status of the facility. Don’t be surprise if you are told the walk way to the Kintampo waterfalls was constructed by TAYSEC Constructions limited on gratis after the President Rawlings administration had contracted them to construct the Highway from Kintampo to Tamale.
The most devastating factor to the gradual distraction of the Kintampo Waterfall is rampant falling of trees by illegal chain saw operators known to state agencies paid by the Ghanaian tax payer to protect their forests and rivers; the Ghana Forestry Commission district officers can’t tell us they are not aware of the deforestation activities going on along the rivers that feed the waterfalls.
I remember during our young years when we visited the waterfall, people could place bottles of unrefrigerated drinks under the sands in the falls and few minutes after when taken out the drinks were as chilled as though they were kept in a fridge.
In contrast, today the water flowing down is as warm as boiling water in the afternoon.
In fact, lands from the Kintampo Senior High School to the Waterfall stretching over ten kilometres square had all been sold by Nana Effah Guakro to private developers and farmers whose activities are directly contributing to the gradual distraction of nature’s gift to us the people of Kintampo.
The response of government to the tragedy must be commended especially the Vice President, Dr Mahamadu Bawumia cancelling-off many activities in Accra to join the Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Creative Arts, Catherine Ablema Afeku, and the Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, to console with the families that lost their loved ones and also pledging government supports for the many injured and receiving medical treatments.
Whilst commending them for their response, we must also start holding persons whose negligence led to the tragedy at Kintampo responsible for their inactions to set as example for those in the civil service who are paid to act with the aim of protecting public lives and properties.
Chiefs are said to be custodian of culture and they also hold in trust all assets being it land or water resource for the benefit of both today and future generations but greed and selfishness seems to have taken the better part of many modern traditional leaders.
Some seek their comfort at the expense of their subjects with the thinking that their ruin ends with their lives on earth and therefore they can sell lands with no recourse to the protection of water bodies and other vegetation. Unfortunately, we are all paying for the shame and bad media publicity that our greed have caused to the loss of innocent souls.
Author: Konadu Asare