Sunyani library project abandoned for 18 yrs - Students, pupils want urgent completion

BY: Emmanuel Adu-Gyamerah
Part of the library project which would be used as offices and for other purposes
Part of the library project which would be used as offices and for other purposes

Agigantic regional library project which started in Sunyani 18 years ago is yet to be completed.

The Sunyani Library sits on about an acre of land near the Ebenezer Presbyterian Church.

Aside from the 600-seating capacity library for secondary and tertiary students, the complex is also expected to have children’s, reference and lending libraries, an information and communications technology (ICT) centre, conference rooms and a secretariat for the regional librarian and staff.

Complete urgently

Some students, who spoke to the Daily Graphic, expressed their displeasure about the long delay in the completion of the project and called for urgent completion.

According to them, it was a disservice to the people of Sunyani, especially students, that such a laudable project had been left unattended to for 18 good years.

They, therefore, urged the authorities to operationalise the project without any further delay.

Although the main library complex is not complete, interior works of some offices at the rear had been done and are being used by officers of the Ghana Library Authority (GLA).

Also, an improvised library has been provided within the uncompleted facility, but the hall, according to patrons, was not spacious enough while the stock of books for research was limited.

The facility, which is strategically located near a small roundabout on the Sunyani-Odomase road, will provide easy access to patrons.

It has additional space that provides enough parking place for visitors’ vehicles and a garden for outdoor reading.

Funding

After an assessment of the project in 2019, the GLA concluded that it would require about GH¢2 million to complete the edifice.

The execution of the multi-purpose library project at a snail’s pace has become a source of concern to residents, with many wondering when it will finally be completed.

The reading public in the Bono Region are eagerly looking forward to the completion of the edifice as it will offer them more room for reading and research.

Children’s library rots away

Over the years, pupils in the Sunyani municipality have been using a small children's library near the Nyamaa Cluster of Schools which can only accommodate 50 people at a time.

Another children’s library which was constructed at the Sunyani Children’s Park has been left to rot in the bush.

It is now a place of abode for the mentally ill and destitutes.

Displeasure

Kwame Ali, a student of the University of Education, Winneba (UEW) satellite campus in Sunyani, said the library would help students to do their research work if it was completed.

"It is unfortunate that there is no public library in a big town like Sunyani which has two public universities, one private university, many senior high schools as well as satellite campuses of other universities,” he said.

He explained that the improvised library within the uncompleted structure was not spacious enough and had a limited stock of research materials.

A group of pupils from the St Patrick's Primary School, who were returning from the Sunyani Children’s Library, told the Daily Graphic that they had been going there either to borrow books or read story books.

They complained about the limited space and expressed the hope that a bigger facility would be built for them.

Asked whether they were aware of the Sunyani Library project and the Children’s Library which had been abandoned in the bush at the Children’s Park, they all answered in the negative.

Funding

While inspecting the project in 2019, the Ag. Executive Secretary of the GLA, Mr Hayford Siaw, said the Ministry of Education had asked the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) to release funds to honour certificates of the contractor to ensure the completion of the project.

“Per an assessment of the project, over GH¢2 million will be needed for its completion,” Mr Siaw said, and gave an assurance that "by the middle of 2020, the library project will be inaugurated to enable it to play its expected role in the region".

But “the middle of 2020” is now history, as 2021 is expected to end in two months’ time yet the edifice remains uncompleted.

Director’s response

When the Daily Graphic contacted the Bono Regional Director of the GLA, Mr Ofosu Frimpong, he said the general belief was that the project would be completed by December 2020 for inauguration.

He said the government had released funds to pay for work done by the contractor “and we are expecting that the contractor should come back to site to complete the project.”

Mr Frimpong explained that it was the Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) which awarded the contract with the Architectural Engineering Services Limited (AESL) as the consultants, while the K-TAC Construction Company is the current contractor.

He added that though the contractor promised to go back to site on June 4, 2021 to continue with the project, that had not been the case.

“We have complained to the RCC and the AESL but nothing has changed. The completion of the project is long overdue. We believe the contractor cannot complete the project; thus the contract should be terminated,” Mr Frimpong stated.

Chequered history

The Bono, Bono East and Ahafo Zonal Consultant of the AESL, Mr Edward Agyeman Prempeh, said the project had a chequered history.

He explained that the contract for the project was originally awarded in August 2003 and was scheduled to be completed in February 2006.

The contractor went to the site as and when the Ministry of Finance released funds to pay for work done, Mr Prempeh said.

Funding shifted

In the course of time, funding for the project shifted to the GETFund, and the first two contractors left because of delay in honouring their certificates.

Mr Prempeh said the contract was repackaged and awarded to the current contractor, K-TAC Construction Company, in October 2016 with the contract sum of GH¢2.78 million for completion in August 2018.

He added that as of October 2021, only 12 per cent of the contract awarded to K-TAC had been executed because of the failure of GETFund to honour certificates for work done.

Appeal

Mr Prempeh called on chiefs, politicians and other influential people in the region to impress on the government to release funds for the completion of the project.