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Korle Gonno: Kindergarten pupil dies after falling in septic tank

BY: Zadok K. Gyesi

Teaching and learning at the Kitson Mills Primary School at Korle Gonno, near Korle Bu in the Greater Accra Region, came to a temporary halt when a kindergarten pupil of the school fell into an underground water reservoir and died while playing with his friends yesterday morning.

The child, Robert Okoh Thompson, 7, fell into the uncovered tank which was overgrown with weeds while chasing butterflies with his peers.

According to an official of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), the tank, which used to be a septic tank, was about 12 feet deep and full of water.

What happened?                                 

When the Daily Graphic got to the scene, teachers of the school and some members of the community were there.

The Headmaster of the school, Mr Bernard Attipoe, told the Daily Graphic that the incident happened when the pupils were on break and chasing butterflies, with the deceased leading.

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According to him, it was the friends of the deceased who reported the incident to their teacher when he accidentally fell into the tank.

He said when the issue was reported, the GNFS was called in, since the tank was full of water and no teacher could enter it to retrieve the body.

Mr Attipoe, who was emotional and on the verge of weeping while narrating the incident, said officers from the GNFS responded quickly and that when they went to the scene, they had to draw out all the water from the tank before the boy’s body could be retrieved.

He said the tank was used to collect water from two schools in the cluster and that it did not belong to Kitson Mills Primary School.

Efforts by school

“We have been writing to the appropriate quarters for them to cover it for us; we have written a series of letters,” he said.

Mr Attipoe said the tank had been there for more than five years and that “there used to be a toilet in the school and when a contractor was engaged to build a new facility for the school, after building the new one, he broke open the old one (the one in which the deceased fell) without covering it”.

According to him, the new toilet the contractor built, which led to the destruction of the old one, belonged to the Korle Gonno Methodist “B” School, and that Kitson Mills Primary School also had its own toilet facility.

He described the whole Kitson Mills Primary School building as unsafe for both teachers and pupils, as the structure had developed cracks at various parts.

An official of the Greater Accra Regional Headquarters of the GNFS, Station Officer One Mr Nathaniel Armah, said officers of the GNFS spent about 35 minutes to empty the water from the tank before the body was retrieved.

Officials

The Assembly Member for the Korle Gonno Electoral Area, Mr Ransford Quaye, said he was not aware that there was an uncovered septic tank in the school.

He said he only got to know about the uncovered tank after he had been informed that a pupil of the school had fallen into it.

Mr Quaye promised to take the issue up, so that the tank could be covered to prevent further deaths in the school.

The Accra Metropolitan Chief Executive, Mr Mohammed Adjei Sowah, was at the scene of the incident but declined to comment on whether the issue of the uncovered tank had come to his attention or not.

 “My brother, you’ve been asking questions upon questions; what sort of life is this? Can you go back?” he yelled at this reporter.