By Alfred K Dogbe
Transport Minister, Madam Dzifa Aku Attivor, has paid a working visit to the Atimpoku Bridge renovation project site on the Volta Lake to interact with the engineers and inspect the progress of work.
The resident engineer of the project from the Ghana Highway Authority (GHA), Victor Nyantekyi-Baah said, the project which was expected to take thirty months to complete, is 51 per cent complete as at August, since the reconstruction work started.
He assured the Minister that based on the speed at which the work was progressing, he was confident that the contractor would finish early and the bridge would be ready for use ahead of schedule.
So far, he said the project which has been divided into two sections; the design part has been completed, remaining the installation part, which is expected to be completed by the end of next year. The engineer, however, added that, because the project involves rehabilitation of an old structure, “We do not want to take risk by rushing to complete the work early”.
The Project Manager, Dr. Paul Hermann of Bilfingure MCE Construction, Austria, who also briefed the Minister said, refurbishing of the bridge involves more work than building a new bridge; but everything was on course to ensure that the project was properly renovated and completed.
Mr. Nyantekyi-Baah, mentioned that, the total cost of the 333 metre long bridge rehabilitation contract is about 12.9million Euro, and funded by the Ghana government through a concessional credit facility from the Bank of Austria.
It involves the replacement of old steel desks on the floor with new ones. Hanger cables that hold the arc symbol and give firm support for the bridge, were also being replaced during the visit.
On the safety of workers, the Project Manager said, all the 66 employees; made up of 55 Ghanaians and 11 expatriates working at the site, have been covered by insurance, provided by the Star Assurance Company.
The Minister appealed to the travelling public to have patience, adding government was committed to ensure that their safety; the reason for which the bridge was closed is executed.
An elated Madam Dzifa Aku Attivor, told the press that, “even though am not an engineer, physically I think they [engineers] are doing excellent work, per the briefing they gave me”.
She lamented over the closure of the bridge, but said it was a necessary evil that had to be resolved, before disaster strikes, adding “I know people are losing their businesses, but this is a commitment that we all need to endure”.
Corruption At Senchi
Before her departure to Accra, the Minister also visited the Senchi Ferry Site to observe the operation of the ferry and the frustrations of passengers as a result of the hectic vehicular traffic daily.
The Ferry manager, Keelson Benjamin Adjei, who briefed the Minister said, the level of the water has dropped drastically and “we are finding it difficult to operate”.
According to him, the ferry which can take as many as eighteen vehicles, could now carry only eight or six, which is contributing to serious delays in the operations and causing difficulty in crossing over vehicles and passengers over the Volta Lake.
Some frustrated drivers and passengers, also complained bitterly about unfairness and alleged corrupt activities by some deviant police personnel on duty at the site.
They told The Herald that, while everyone was in the queue and anxiously waiting to reach their turn to cross the lake, some of the policemen engaged in nefarious businesses, where they select and allow some private vehicles with so-called “big men” to overtake them in order to go first.
This unpleasant development, worry travelers some of who claimed to have stayed in a queue for more than five hours. They disclosed how the attitude of the police is causing confusion, delay and traffic congestion in Atimpoku township.