Magical Takoradi Harbour View
Fond memories began rolling in my mind’s eye on reaching the Harbour View Gardens in Takoradi.
What a picturesque view of the whole Takoradi Port from up there.
A picture with the harbour in the background is so alluring and makes the photo look like a studio shot, yet it is so real.
Every now and then as a child my father would take us the children there in the night and we would sit on a garden bench just to take in the beautiful view of a lighted Takoradi Harbour, the ships berthed there and trains delivering materials for export.
It all came back to me as if it was just yesterday.
Where are the gardens that used to be here?
Why hasn’t the place been developed into a tourist attraction to rake in some money yet?
Why are there not many people here?
A statue in honour of soldiers who lost their lives in the two world wars can be found at the entrance to the gardens
So many questions rather flooded my mind.
So, I set out to ask what had happened over the years.
According to the current owner of the place, Mr Eric Ato Arhin, who took over from his parents in 2010 after their demise, they had an appreciable number of patrons daily, which number peaked during the weekends.
Hotel to offices
On a visit to the once famed Harbour View, the Daily Graphic saw that there was an attempt to expand the gardens and add other infrastructure to attract more patrons.
Howbeit, Mr Arhin said it had become increasingly difficult to access funds as an individual to make the spot more attractive.
“Finances and the rest and the interest on the loan alone – if you are not careful and you go for any big loan and you invest [you will have a lot of problems].
Our loans are per annum - at least if you are taking a loan it should be five or 10 years but this yearly basis loans are a no no,” he stated.
He explained that the Harbour View Hotel that received so much patronage in its hey days as people could sit on the top floor to view the harbour had been closed down and the building converted into offices for some shipping agencies because of some challenges the owners encountered.
Some of the challenges were the small sizes of the rooms that patrons complained about but the biggest was that it became the rendezvous for ‘ladies of the night’ referred to as ‘sisters’ because of the ship crew or seamen as they are popularly known who frequented the hotel when they docked.
“They often created a nuisance and many patrons complained about their behaviour while others stopped patronising the hotel because of their presence,” he said.
Moreover, more floors could not be added to the eight-room, single-storey hotel because additional floors would prevent the lighthouse adjacent from functioning effectively by blocking the light and endangering ships.
“The hotel’s rooms were made very small and people started complaining and we decided to turn it into offices and I think the offices were giving us more revenue than the hotel.
That is why I decided to expand the garden rather, but like I was saying, it is not easy,” Mr Arhin surmised.
Yesteryears’ Harbour View
According to Mr Arhin, the defunct Harbour View Hotel also had a night club and restaurant, because his father who was the original owner was a cook and was into the restaurant business.
He intimated that he did not want the Harbour View to die and he would do everything in his power to make the place flourish again but he could do with some assistance such as soft loans or a good partnership to redevelop the place.
He expressed the hope that things would look up at the garden.
“The port people come here every day so now I think it is up to me to develop the place to get more people here,” he stated.