Monday, November 12, 2012


Last week Wednesday, one of the stores of the Melcom Group of Companies, a retail outlet collapsed in Achimota in Accra. A “few” lives have been lost. A number of people have been pulled out of the rubble as survivors. Some have been able to tell their stories, their horrors, their anguish and their shock. Ghanaians flocked to the venue and some lay men did volunteer to help pull out some people. 

The Fire Service, the Police, NADMO, Zoomlion and all other agencies including a supporting team from Israel have done well at helping the victims.
I cannot say whether some are still trapped but I can say that if measures are not put in place, if the Fire Service themselves do not adhere to venue capacities and stop event organizers from overcrowding event venues, if they do not agree to event organizers filling aisles with temporary seats because of a few little cedis that are given to a member or two, a lot more lives will be lost. A lot more, and I dare say, a 1000 more lives will be lost because of greed.

Greed because the Event Organizers k now very well the capacity of the venues, yet they always over print their tickets. How else will the venues get to be over crowded? Does the Ghana National Fire Service not have the mandate to shut down a program and a venue and end it all because of overcrowding? Have we not had many incidents of people dying because there was not enough egress as of the time of the calamity? What again was the main issue for a lot more people dying at the Accra Sports Stadium sometime ago? Why do I often see Firemen at Event Venues, in their uniforms, finding it difficult to maneuver their ways through the crowd yet they do not make any calls to end the program and prevent a disaster?

I watch TV. I watch movies. I witness a scene where one character is having a party in his apartment. I see a few people who are moving about freely and yet, next thing, there is a knock on the door, the party is halted and the guests are forced to move out. Why? Because the apartment has a limit on the number of people it should accommodate at all times. Here too our venues have limits. They are almost doubled all the time with the scariest part being the upper floors of the National Theater having all seats filled and having people standing there because the ground floor is totally full. Are we that greedy? Yes!

Do we always have to wait for an unfortunate event to happen, hear our “leaders” talk and blame others and do nothing about it after a few weeks? Do we have to have leaders of these institutions who are clearly not doing their jobs still at post, even after lives have been lost? Do we care at all about the lives we seek to govern?

People get trapped and die through this Melcom Disaster and you have the AMA Boss still at post. All institutions that are supposed to check buildings and are directly related to this incident still have their heads at post. Is it not their negligence that has gotten us to this situation? If a Doctor is proven to have been negligent, what happens? If a Lawyer misrepresents the law, what happens? If a Graphic Designer gets so negligent as to use 2011 dates on a 2012 calendar, for which 20,000 copies have been printed, what happens?

In elsewhere, people resign over extra marital affairs. Extra marital affairs may not have any direct bearing on their work output, yet once it becomes news, they resign. Here, we have people who are so negligent that their direct work kills people and yet we continue to have them at post! Sigh!

In all this, while some politicians halted their activities in these rather crucial times to sympathize and support the victims and their families, we have other insensitive ones who make dry jokes about their opponents with this disaster. And mind you, after such a stupid blunder, this politician is still at post. Are we serious at all? I am tired of these media talks about building permits and what should have been done and what not not. I am tired of hearing them. Lives are lost. My concern now is that lives will be lost again and that is rather preventable. Let us work at preventing another disaster. I need support.

I heard Jon Germain talk about overcrowding at such shows and he admonished event organizers. Jon, in view of the looming danger, and with my acceptance that your voice is louder than mine, please keep talking. Keep pressing the authorities and the event organizers to be more sensitive. They should not print extra tickets. If the place takes 2000 and would want to give out complimentary tickets, they should sell 1500 and issue 500 complimentary tickets. No live is worth a 1000 more of GHC40.

Dear Musicians and Actors and popular Ghanaians, I need help with this advocacy. Please admonish the leaders to only fill venues to their capacity. You are you because we pay and come for your shows. If a venue caves in today, some will die, some will survive, you may die, you may survive, but should you survive, you probably won’t get a show for a long time and mind you this is Ghana. Rebuilding such a venue will take another forever. We need you to entertain us. While we all talk about all this, let’s focus on preventing another disaster. Let’s save lives. Please help.

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