Preliminary investigations have revealed that the Church of Prosperity building at Akyem Batabi in the Asene-Manso-Akroso District in the Eastern Region collapsed because of substandard materials used for the construction of the building.
Officials have identified inferior quality iron rods, sand and chippings used by the head pastor of the church, Prophet Isaac Ofori, aka Akoa Isaac, for the five-storey church building as having contributed to the disaster.
At a news conference at Akyem Batabi where the end of the search and rescue mission was announced, the Director-General of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), Mr Eric Nana Agyemang Prempeh, appealed to the public to obtain building permits and recruit competent artisans for their building projects to avoid the recurrence of such disasters.
He announced that the death toll at the site of the disaster had risen to 22, comprising 12 females — including a two-year-old girl — and 10 males.
Eight of the 30 people retrieved from the rubble by the search and rescue team are alive.
Six of the survivors had been treated and discharged from the Oda Government Hospital, one was still on admission at the same facility, while the other victim had been transferred to the St Joseph Hospital in Koforidua for intensive care.
Mr Agyemang Prempeh thanked the search and rescue team, made up of the staff of NADMO, the National Ambulance Service, the Ghana National Fire Service, the police and soldiers from the 48 Engineers Regiment and the Achiase Jungle Warfare School, as well as volunteers from the neighbouring communities, for a yeoman’s job in the four-day rescue operation.
He also expressed gratitude to the numerous media houses who gave extensive coverage on the operation.
Mr Agyemang Prempeh described the disaster as sad, and expressed heartfelt sympathy for the families who lost their relatives in the incident.
He specifically commended the Eastern Regional Minister, Mr Eric Kwakye Darfour, for abandoning his numerous duties to spend his time with the search and rescue team for four days to offer the necessary support in the operation.
He also praised the District Chief Executive (DCE) for Asene-Manso-Akroso, Mr Alex Incoom, for mobilising the necessary human and material resources for the operation.
The NADMO Director-General called on the DCE to set up an investigation team to find out the perpetrators of the disaster, and to recommend the appropriate punitive measures to discourage similar acts that could cause disasters.
He also urged metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies to stop all estate developers who put up buildings without collecting proper building permits or used substandard building materials, saying, “the government cannot continue to waste the scarce national resources on disasters through the negligence of irresponsible people”.
He urged the Asene-Manso-Akroso District Assembly to take care of the medical expenses of a victim of the disaster who is on admission at the St Joseph Hospital which demanded an initial GH¢3,500 payment before treating his fractured legs.
Mr Agyeman Prempeh announced that his outfit would recruit Mr Kwabena Boahene, aka Cote D’Ivoire, an Oda-based taxi driver, for spearheading the rescue of the 30 people trapped under the rubble of the collapsed building and station him at the NADMO headquarters to assist in future disasters.
Present at the news conference were the Director of Inspectorate at the NADMO Headquarters in Accra, Mr Richard Amo Lartey; the leader of the 48 Engineers Regiment, Lt Col Michael Kwame Mfum; the Commanding Officer of the Achiase Jungle Warfare School, Lt Col Peter Amoah; the DCE for Asene-Manso-Akroso, Mr Incoom; Mr Daniel Allotey and Chief Superintendent Daniel Amoako, the Oda Municipal Fire Officer and the Oda Divisional Police Commander respectively.