Al-Shabaab Scare Hits Accra Mall

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But officials assure patrons

By Gifty Arthur

Patrons of Ghana’s one-stop shopping centre the Accra Mall, are skeptical about their safety following last Saturday’s massacre at Kenya’s Westgate Mall which claimed many lives including that of the Ghana’s respected poet, Prof. Kofi Awoonor and 65 others.

But managers of the Accra Mall have given assurance, security is tight and there is no cause for alarm. They have also planned a meeting with the security agencies especially the police administration for additional measures.

Like a properly written and rehearsed script being acted in a Hollywood movie, dozens of lives were lost due to the wicked Somali-based Al Qaeda-linked terror group, Al Shabaab. The incident also resulted in the injury of over 170 others.

Customers of the Accra Mall who spoke to “The Herald” yesterday in the wake of last Saturday’s attack, expressed fear and anxiety over the entire incident, as they admit Ghana could not be exempted from these menace of terrorism.

All the customers who spoke to this paper noted that indeed, they had heard of the attack that claimed the life of Ghana’s finest poet, Diplomat, politician and former Chairman of Council of State, who was reported to have been invited by a group in that country to give a lecture.

According to a Mechanical Engineer, Emmanuel Boahen, who readily expressed desire to speak to this reporter yesterday said, “I panicked, wondering what would have happened to me if it had happened in Ghana and I was at the Mall at the time?”

He revealed that as at the time, he was speaking to this paper, he was not comfortable sitting at the Mall waiting for a friend adding “ I have called this particular friend severally for him to hurriedly come so that we could finish whatever we have to do, so that I can leave in peace”.

Though he was not comfortable, Mr. Boahen expressed joy over the presence of the security personnel at the Mall especially a Police officer he claimed he had spotted around. Asked if he had seen any emergency exit around, a panicky Mr. Boahen pointed to about two of them noting that they could help in a way when the unthinkable happens, but was worried how many of the people who visit the Mall knew about them.

Another visitor, a graduate of Wisconsin University, John Duncan, said although he heard about the news, it could not change his mind, since he is optimistic nothing of the sort will happen in Ghana.

He told this paper that when the news broke; he took it as one of those things noting that he had even forgotten about it until he spotted a Police officer at the Mall Tuesday morning, which reminded him of the Kenya story.

A taxi driver, Kweku Annan, who claims he visits the Mall almost every day said, he fears for his life but at the same time he has no other choice than to go about his normal business, hoping nothing untoward will happen.

Another visitor, Emelia Armah, revealed to this paper that “in fact, the whole incident has put fear in me, but I won’t stop coming to the Mall, because it is a place I enjoy coming to”.

But the General Manager of Accra Mall, Joseph Amo-Mensah, has allayed the fears of these customers in the unlikely event that the Westgate episode occurs in Ghana.

Mr. Amo-Mnesah told this paper yesterday that when they first heard the barbaric attack on innocent civilians, they were pained especially about the loss of Prof. Awoonor.

He said that the unfortunate attack drew them even closer to happenings internationally, especially so when they are in charge of a huge building which averagely in a day, receives not less than eighteen thousand five hundred customers.

He said that, although security cannot be said to be absolute, the measures they have put in place before and after the incident assured them that they are on course to protect every individual who will visit the facility on daily basis.

“I can’t say that what we have is hundred percent, but we can assure the public that when they visit the Mall, their safety would be assured. Accra Mall as an entity, already, we have put in place measures to mitigate such security risk. A place that on the average, 18,500 people come every day, you will agree that we understand the kind of risk every day, we are exposed to.

And so, we have tight security here, we have adequate security personnel who are here 24 hours and Police personnel who parade here both day and night. Coupled with that, we have trained our service providers, cleaners, plumbers, electricians, etc such that, they observe whatever that goes on in the Mall”, he said.

The Accra Mall has planned a meeting with the Police to institute additional measures to reinforce security as the Christmas draws near.
Meanwhile, it has CCTV cameras, eight emergency exit points, aside the two main entrances.

It revealed that aside the uniformed security officers, the Mall has plain clothed security personnel who parade the Mall, questioning suspicious characters, and where necessary, such people are handed over to the Police or sacked from the premises.

On whether the number of people who visit the Mall had reduced since the Kenyan incident, Mr. Amo-Mensah noted that though the bloody incident have caused panic, the number has not reduced.

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