Mr Speaker, thank you.
Thank you, Hon Okudzeto Ablakwa, for my first Question in Parliament.
Mr Speaker, on the evening of 19th
March, 2017, an unfortunate accident happened at the Kintampo Waterfalls, leading to loss of lives of 20 persons and injuring 21 others who were mostly
students from Wenchi Methodist Senior High School (SHS) and the University of Energy and Natural Resources in Sunyani.
Mr Speaker, in the early morning of 20th
March, 2017, I led a team including the Chief Director of the Ministry, the Chief Executive of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) and other management staff of the Ministry and the Authority to Kintampo. The team met up with the Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency, Alhaji (Dr) Mahamudu Bawumia who also led a high-powered Government delegation and visited the Assembly, the chiefs, the hospitals, the schools and other important stakeholders.
Mr Speaker, I ordered that the site be closed pending a safety audit and reconstruction.
Mr Speaker, given the importance we attach to safety and security, I also ordered that safety audits be conducted at six (6) additional sites as follows:
a. Fuller Falls near Kintampo
b. Kakum National Park in the Central Region
c. Wli Falls in the Volta Region
d. Nzulezu in the Western Region
e. Bunsu Aboretrem in the Eastern Region and
f. Boti Waterfalls in the Eastern Region.
Mr Speaker, the safety audit on these sites are currently ongoing by a cross functional team led by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GTA and military engi- neers from the 48 Engineers Regiment; National Disaster Management Orga-
nisation (NADMO); a safety, health and environmental management consultant called Sustainable Ghana Limited; Forestry Commission; tourism sector non- governmental organisation (Tourism Safety and Security Initiative)(TOSSI); and other officials of GTA and Ghana Tourism Development Commission
Mr Speaker, the safety audit team has completed and submitted a Report on Kintampo Waterfalls to the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture. The Report concluded that although this was an Act of God, a number of remote and immediate causes were identified as being instrumental in the accident and the response following the disaster.
These included a lack of focus on public safety responsibilities, a lack of adequate training and supervision of personnel, poor environmental manage- ment factors and impact of encroachers on the area which has exposed the soil to major erosion and made trees weak and vulnerable.
Mr Speaker, to ensure full recovery and improvements in service delivery, the team made a number of recommendations which included:
1) Immediate afforestation exercise to improve the diversity of flora in and around the Kintampo Water Falls
2) Activities to check erosion
3) A review of the management structure
4) Recruitment and training enhancements
5) Introduction of clearly defined public safety management measures, and emergency preparedness and coordination
6) Removal of loose rocks and those in potentially precarious positions at various stages of the Kintampo Water Falls
7) Creation of separate entries and exits to different stages, especially stage three of the Falls
8) Re-engineering of the staircase leading to the Falls and the re- engineering of the entrance from the main Techiman-Tamale Highway, among others.
Mr Speaker, suggestions have also been made by the team who visited the site and we are working on the potential to add other attractions to the Kintampo Waterfalls to enrich the experience of visitors to the site.
These suggestions include incorpora- tion of a museum, rebuilding a replica of Dr Kwame Nkrumah's Lodge which was sited at the Kintampo Water Falls, the addition of a canopy walkway, a camp site, a hotel and a cafeteria, among others.
Mr Speaker, subsequent to the Kintampo Safety Audit Report which was presented to the Ministry, GTA has been coordinating activities with the 48 Engineers Regiment, Forestry Com- mission, the Traditional Authorities and the Local Assemblies of North and South Kintampo.
Mr Speaker, various stakeholder meetings have also been held in Kintampo with members of the Municipal Security Committee, the traditional authorities and various stakeholders.
Mr Speaker, a design and build team led by 48 Engineers Regiment are in place and they will be moving to site on Thursday, 8th June, 2017.