A/R: Barekuma residents angry over collapsed bridge

A collapsed bridge at Barekuma in the Ashanti Region has cut off residents from their farms. Farmers are unable to cart their farm produce to market centres and residents are exposed to the risk of drowning. The situation, according to residents, is affecting economic activities in the area. “Our entire livelihood has been stuck at the back of the Offin River due to the collapse of our bridge. We have to risk our lives to cross the river just to access our farms on daily basis. We feel neglected even though our community is a major food basket in the Atwima Nwabiagya North district,” Unit Committee chairman of the area Osei Tutu Collins told 3news.com. Barekuma is a hub of cocoa and plantain production in the Ashanti Region but transporting farm produce from the farms is a nightmare for the farmers. Community initiatives to repair and maintain the wooden bridges over the years have not been sustainable. “We have over the past 10 years been fixing the bridge through communal labour but the extent of damage anytime we enter the rainy season keeps worsening. As community leaders, we have drawn the attention of the Member of Parliament in this area, Benito Owusu-Bio, and the district assembly but we are yet to receive any positive feedback from them. All the promises made to us for our bridge to be fixed have not been fulfilled,” Adontenhene Nana Baffuor Gyau fumed. A cocoa farmer, Kofi Yeboah, says his harvests are locked up on the farms because he is unable to cart them. “Our women cannot go to farms as a result of the total collapse of the bridge. Those of us who strive to walk in the river to work on our farms too are unable to cart our produce to the community. We now have to battle with post-harvest losses.” Residents say lives have been lost in the Offin River due to the collapsed bridge. Emmanuel Opoku recounts how a 19-year-old boy drowned while crossing the river to his parents’ cocoa farm. “For the past five years, we record at least one death in the Offin River. Just on Wednesday, a 19-year-old boy who was coming home from the farm with his mother was carried away by the water when they attempted crossing. His body was found the next day. I wonder how many people the authorities are waiting to lose their lives before they decided to reconstruct our broken bridge for us.” The residents are pleading for government’s intervention to protect lives and livelihoods. Until this bridge is reconstructed, residents would have to continue risking their lives to cross the Offin River to access their farms.

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By Ibrahim Abubakar|3news.com|Ghana ]]>