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Why 45-year-old KATH abandoned maternity block needs to be demolished (PHOTOS)

BY: Daniel Kenu

The construction of a new maternity block for the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi, is to go ahead following a determination that the old and abandoned 45-year-old uncompleted structure is weak.

The Ministry of Health (MoH) and the management of the KATH together with Contracta UK Company Limited, the contractor working on rebuilding the hospital’s 45-year-old Maternity Block have agreed on a new design with a reduced bed size.

The block’s reconstruction will take place side by side demolition works of the old structure to help reduce its bed capacity from an initial 750 to 500 and would cost 138.5 million Euros, the same as it would cost for renovation works only for the old block before a top to bring it to the required standard.

The new six-storey structure which has been designed is expected to be ready in three years’ time.

Defence

Two officials from the Architecture and Engineering unit at the MoH took turns to demonstrate why it had become necessary that the old structure should be demolished despite calls for it to be maintained.

Following a documentary that showed cracks and weakness in portions of the building, Mr Benjamin Ampomah Nkansah of the infrastructure directorate at the MoH and Mr Richard Vanderpuije, head of the architecture engineering infrastructure directorate of the ministry, accompanied by officials of Contracta, the CEO of KATH, Dr Oheneba Owusu Danso and the Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr Simon Osei Mensah, conducted journalists round the building site.

From weak and exposed iron rods through to spalling, which is when water enters concrete and forces the surface to peel, pop out, or flake, they showed the entourage, including journalists, why the old structure ought to be pulled down.

Mr Vanderpuije said the decision to demolish the building followed a comprehensive risk assessment undertaken by relevant engineering companies, including Architectural and Engineering Services Limited (AESL).

He said it would entail much more risk to repair the old structure than to build a new one.

"If left alone, the old building could fall on its own without anybody touching it.

"The building has exceeded it's life span and in terms of risk, cost effectiveness, it would be more expensive to maintain it than rebuild,” Mr Vanderpuije said.

He added that the old building could not last for the next five to 10 years.

Background

The old maternity block was started by Ghana’s former Head of State, General Ignatius Kutu Acheampong in 1976 but was abandoned midway after his overthrow for lack of funding.

The structure over the years have gone through various enhancements but could not be completed due to lack of funding.

Last December, President Akufo-Addo cut the sod for the old building to be completed after the (MoH) through Parliament had secured a loan of 138.5 million Euros.

Contractors were quickly mobilised to site, but after an engineering and risk assessment, it was concluded that the old building ought to be pulled down.