Collapsed Zorkor-Sirigu bridge: Paramount Chief leads demonstration over neglect
Gilbert Mawuli Agbey
The Paramount Chief of the Sirigu Traditional Area in the Upper East Region, Naba Roland Atogumdeya Akwara III, last Saturday, led a demonstration by angry residents to express their displeasure over the neglect of the Zorkor-Sirigu bridge.
They have given the government up to September 19, 2023, to reconstruct the bridge and other bad roads in the area, or else they will be compelled to take the next line of action.
Although the bridge collapsed four years ago after it caved in while a heavy truck was crossing, it has still not been fixed, a development which has been a source of worry to residents of more than 20 communities who travel on the road.
Several appeals by chiefs, opinion leaders and residents to the Ministry of Roads and Highways for the collapsed bridge to be reconstructed have not received the needed attention, leaving them to their own fate.
Since the collapse of the bridge, farmers and traders have found it very difficult to transport their farm produce from the rural communities to the Bolgatanga and Sirigu markets for sale to earn their daily income.
In February this year, during a tour to inspect some damaged bridges, the Regional Minister, Stephen Yakubu, assured the people that proactive measures would be put in place to reconstruct the bridge.
Naba Roland Atogumdeya Akwara III (arrowed) demonstrates at the collapsed bridge with some residents
However, that promise has not been made good.
Led by Naba Akwara III, hundreds of residents of Sirigu and other adjoining communities, including the aged and women, holding placards, took to the streets in the area to express their displeasure over the bad state of the bridge.
Some of the inscriptions on the placards read: “Pregnant women are getting miscarriages”, “Every life matters”, “President Akufo-Addo, listen to us”, “Sirigu is part of Ghana”, “Enough is enough”, “Hon. Amoako-Attah, come to our aid”, “Fix killer bridge now” and “Sirigu deserves better”.
A four-page petition was also presented to the Minister of Roads and Highways, the Upper East Regional Minister and the District Chief Executive of the Kassena Nankana West District.
Reading the contents of the petition, Eden Akurugu, Secretary to Naba Akwara, said due to the strategic location of the town, many people visited the area, including nationals of Burkina Faso, for economic activities, tourism and to access education and health care.
He noted that the people largely depended on the market in the town which attracted hundreds of traders to the area to trade, thereby enabling the district assembly to generate revenue from the people.
He stated that the people could not access Paga, the district capital, due to the collapse of the Manyoro and Navio bridges, coupled with the deplorable state of the Sirigu-Kandiga road, which was inaccessible, especially when it rained.
“To make matters worse, the Sirigu-Zorkor bridge on the only road to Bolgatanga and other adjoining communities also collapsed about four years ago, cutting off the area from other parts of the region,” he lamented.
Mr Akurugu explained that since the collapse of the bridge, the people had suffered untoward mishaps, including loss of lives due to accidents, and also lost other valuable properties, adding: “Pregnant women referred to the regional hospital from the health centre in the town, have had several miscarriages due to the poor state of the road.”
He expressed worry that the current state of the bridge had stalled economic activities in the area since trucks and other vehicles cannot transport farm produce from the town to other market centres for sale.
“Also, with the current security situation in our neighbouring countries where terrorists are seeking to use any terrain to launch their nefarious activities, the people are worried about how they would be protected in case the town, which is a border community, is infiltrated with a collapsed bridge and poor road network,” he said.
Therefore, he made a passionate appeal to the government to immediately commence work on the reconstruction of the bridge, the Sirigu-Kandiga road and the Sirigu town roads, as well as the drainage system in the market.
In an interview, Naba Akwara III said they had done their part as responsible citizens by reporting to the appropriate authorities but nothing positive had come out of it, saying: “I personally met with the roads minister in the presence of three MPs from the region who promised to send a team to inspect it.
However, no step has been taken ever since”.