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Conflict threatens investment in Kintampo Waterfalls canopy

BY: Emmanuel Adu-Gyamerah
 The Newly Constructed Canopy walkways at the Kintampo Waterfalls
The Newly Constructed Canopy walkways at the Kintampo Waterfalls

The Kintampo Waterfalls in the Bono East Region was closed for refurbishment as a result of a disaster on Sunday March 19, 2017, which claimed the lives of 18 students from the Wenchi Methodist Senior High School and the University of Energy and Natural Resources, Sunyani, who were patronising the facility on that fateful day.

As part of the refurbishment, a new walkway was constructed while the existing dilapidated one was reconstructed and other facilities were added to befit the Kintampo Waterfalls’ reputation as one of the most patronised tourists’ facility in the country.

The new-look waterfalls also came with facilities such as an entrance fence, a security gate, souvenir/provision/artifacts shops, a toll booth and a spacious car park.

Indeed, since its re-opening to the public on November 18, 2017, patronage of the facility has increased tremendously.

Patronage

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Statistics made available by the GTA indicate that in 2017, tourist arrivals were 3,419 with a corresponding receipt of GHC20,329.

In 2018, however, the tourist arrivals increased to 15,739 while the revenue accrued was GHC132,053 and from January to March, this year, a total of 5,722 people have visited the waterfalls while GHC45,682 have been accrued.

A revenue sharing mechanism had been put in place between the GTA, the Kintampo North Municipal Assembly and the traditional authority together with the setting up of an advisory board and the institution of safety measures.

That, according to the GTA, had helped to position the Kintampo Waterfalls as a key tourist destination for the country and would, therefore, replicate the successful model across community-based tourist sites.

Consequently, the Ghana Tourism Authority seeks to replicate this successful model across community-based tourist sites through the Tourism Sites Regulations which is being developed by the Attorney General’s Department to regulate the operations of tourist sites across the country.

Canopy Walkways

During his recent visit to the Bono East Region, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo inaugurated the newly constructed two canopy walkways on the Kintampo Waterfalls.

The canopy walkways were constructed through the collaboration of the GTA and a private developer – Bonsu Aboretum – with the support of the traditional authority and the Kintampo Municipal Assembly.

Constructed over a valley spanning 90 metres and 80 metres at two locations, the canopy walkways are to enhance visitor experience at the site.

The bridges of the canopy walkways are made of two cables which serve as the tread way with three high tensioned tendons forming the structural base for the platform which is made up of angle bars braced together with a wooden plate to form the walkway area.

The structural calculation and design indicate that a maximum load of 20 human beings with each weighing an average of 100 kilogrammes can walk on the bridge at a time.

A zipline of 77.6m has also been proposed to be constructed over the same valley parallel to one of the canopy walkways.

Land ownership

Notwithstanding these positive developments at the Kintampo Waterfalls, the ownership of the land on which the facility is situated has become a thorny issue which should be resolved immediately in order not to derail the gains so far.

Some members of the Mo Youth Association were reported to have forcibly taken over the Waterfalls on Tuesday, March 16, 2019, a day after President Akufo-Addo had inaugurated the canopy walkways.

A police/military reinforcement succeeded in arresting some of the perpetrators but in the process of sending them to Sunyani, a confrontation ensued between the security men and the youth group which resulted in the death of one person and injuries to others.
Patronage of the facility during this year’s Easter festivities, at the time when it was expected to receive many visitors, was very low, according to reports.

This implies that urgent measures must be taken to resolve the current impasse once and for all to enable the Kintampo Waterfalls continue to play its role in the country’s tourism industry for the benefit of residents in the Kintampo Municipality and the entire country.