The Eastern Regional Coordinator of the Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), Ransford Owusu Boakye, has said that although his outfit is yet to ascertain the reason behind last Sunday’s Bunso Canopy Walkway accident, reports from eyewitnesses suggest that the incident was caused by overloading.
“Eyewitnesses say the walkway was overloaded”, he told Fiifi Banson in an interview on Anopa Kasapa on Kasapa 102.3 FM Thursday.
The five year old facility, according to the regional NADMO boss, could admit between five to six people at a time but those familiar with last Sunday’s incident suggest the number that triggered the accident was more than the quoted figure.
He confirmed that twenty young adults between the ages of fourteen and twenty-three years were involved in the accident and sustained various degrees of injuries.
One of the victims, he noted, is in critical condition at an unknown hospital in Koforidua with sixteen others said to be receiving treatment at the Osiem Power Memorial Hospital.
The remaining three, he added, are also receiving treatment at the Tafo Government Hospital.
The accident is said to have happened when one of the hooks at the extreme ends of the walkway untethered.
Some Junior High School students who had completed their 2015 exams were halfway through the walkway when the incident occurred.
Started in 2014 as part of the Bunso Arboretum Ecotourism Centre it is situated about 165km from Accra and about 3km from the Bonsu junction from the Accra-Kumasi road. It takes a 30 minutes’ drive from the Eastern Regional capital, Koforidua, and is sited close to the Seed Production Unit of the Ghana Cocoa Board.
Until recently, the centre was managed by the Plant Genetic Resources Research Institute (PGRRI) of the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and has been the habitat of over 300 butterfly species, 600 tropical trees and over 110 birds, some which are rare according to its handlers.
It is owned by businessman, Kenneth Akuffo Asare, who was also involved with the Kakum canopy walkway in the Central Region.The 320-metre walkway has five bridges and six platforms.
The 40-acre forest reserve that hosts the facility belongs to the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Council who leased it to a mining firm in the twentieth century.
It was however given to another local company known as African Products Department for rubber and cocoa plantations in 1917.
It’s management was subsequently overtaken by two British nationals David Gillet and Frank Thompson who built a guest house in 1935. The guesthouse now serves as the official residence for the Vice Chancellor of the University College of Agriculture and Environmental Studies.
The facility was acquired by the Plant Genetic Resource and Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in 1946. They are current managers of the facility.
A popular tourist attraction, it records close to 6000 visitors on a good day. Ghana is the only country in Africa to have two of such facilities.