O/R Zongo-Macheri bridge: death trap or connecting link?

Picture of motorbike falling from Zongo Macheri bridge

People of Zongo-Macheri in the Krachi Nchumuru District in the Oti Region have declared the Nkpabere Bridge located at Zongo-Macheri feeder road as a death trap to road users and travellers along, Banda, Chinderi, Dambai and many communities in the area. Help has been sought, but up to now, the bridge remains in its deplorable state and forms a danger to its users.

The Nkpabere Bridge which was constructed in 1946 under Ghana’s first president Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, has not gotten any maintenance up to date. The bridge witness’s heavy vehicular and human traffic on a daily basis because it is one of the main bridges in the community. Government workers, market woman, farmers, drivers, students and pupils from Zongo Macheri and the surrounding communities who cross the bridge during weekdays to attend school, work and travels have also expressed fears about the state of the bridge.

Truck almost falling from the Zongo Macheri bridge

Lives lost due to weak joints

Mohammed Ibrahim, a resident of Zongo Macheri, bemoaned on how young children and youths lost their lives. They stumble over the cracks in the bridge and fill in the water. He said in recent times even some development joints on the bridge have become weak and exposed, causing accidents particularly involving motorbike riders and cars.

Image of truck almost falling into Zongo Macheri River

Transportation of yams bothered

Driver Ibrahim Aziz, who is using the bridge to send yams to Accra, described the District Assembly over the Nkpabere Bridge as a deliberate move to negate the well-being of the people of the area. He said several people have lost their lives due to the poor nature of the bridge. Aziz said last year the bridge got flooded in the raining season, which stopped them from going to Accra for many weeks to sell their yams. He knows this year it will flood again as the rains have started. According to him, the flood is spoiling their business. He added that the present condition of the bridge is delaying their work. He said they have to withdraw the farm produce out of the villages by farmers and drive the car to cross the bridge before they can load again. Aziz is also appealing to the government, DCE and shareholders to come to their aid.

Appeal for help

The Assembly Member for the area, Mark Takase, also appealed to the non-governmental organizations, individuals to come and help construct the bridge if the government is not taking its responsibility soon. He said he fears that the bridge will sink any moment as the rain has just started and there will be a disaster if that happens. Takase said the bridge is the only alternative route for government workers, market women, farmers, drivers, students, travels and pupils from Zongo Macheri to the surrounding communities. Residents are also appealing to the Ghana Highway Authority (GHA) to fix the problem in order to prevent future accidents and deaths in the event that the bridge collapses.

The chief of Zongo Macheri, Nana Kofi Agyane Joseph, called on the government to take their story as a matter of urgency and help construct the bridge. He said the bridge is one of the major problems in his community. He questions the central government will double its efforts by coming to the aid of his people by constructing the bridge.

Good news on the way

When contacted later, the DCE of Krachi Nchmuru District Assembly, Augustine Appiah, told Communitywatchdoggh that the Central Government is working on it to make sure that the bridge is constructed to avoid disaster. He said there is good news on the way.

Yet last year, the MP for Krachi Nchumburu constituency, Hon John Majisi, already asked the Minister for Road and Highway at the floor of parliament for help, after he visited the bridge when it got flooded. Back then, the minister answered him by saying that during this government they do not have funds to work on it unless funds are in. Majisi said the bridge is in his heart. If constructed, it will help him and the people in his constituency. Will the bridge get its maintenance job soon? Time will tell.

Story and images by Mark Sandow, leading community journalist at Communitywatchdoggh.com, from KrachiNchumburu district in the Oti region. The reason for publishing this story is to inform readers about the road conditions on the local level. Since this is a website for local news and community development in the rural area of Ghana, it fits the scope of communitywatchdoggh.com.