For close to three months, daily engagements, especially commercial engagements that required a vehicle, of hundreds of residents and business owners in Apo and its border communities of Akrodo, British, Jamestown and Komunam in the Shama District of the Western Region came to an agonising halt.
The Apo enclave is arguably one of the busiest fishing hub in the Shama District.
The only bridge, connecting Apo to several other communities, collapsed and with it came a threat of collapse of the bustling fishing industry as all pleas on the district assembly to remedy the situation were unsuccessful due to lack of funds.
“This is the only bridge that all the fishers in this part of Shama will use to go and buy ice block for their fishing expedition. It is also where trucks that supply premix fuel will use. Market women and people from all over the country who buy fish in different quantities use this bridge. So you can imagine the huge challenge the bridge collapse is to us. Everything has virtually come to a halt,” Safohen Baidoo Mensah complained to Connect FM.
“We went to the assembly for help but were told there is no funds. We were at our wit ends.”
“Because the bridge is collapsed, we had to struggle with getting ice block for sea. We had to spend extra money to use another long route. And it was seriously affecting our returns considering how the fishing activity has become these days,” one fisherman at Apo lamented
Left with no option, the community took their plight to their Kokonhemaa Emelia Millicent Aikins, affectionately known and called ‘Maame Takyiwaa, perhaps due to her unrelenting philanthropic efforts for the community over the years.
“'Maame Takyiwaa' is an aspiring parliamentary candidate for the New Patriotic Party in Shama. She uses the route, had seen the challenge the collapse of the bridge poses to the community and had already considered offering a solution because she was also affected.
“The wellness of Apo and for that matter Shama is on top of my priority list. That is why I don't hesitate to offer support in any form which will ultimately contribute to the growth of Shama. Many evidence abounds. So when I saw the bridge collapse, I immediately assembled my team and discussed how we can help. You know I will be contesting the upcoming NPP primaries. It was not long after I've started working behind the scenes, then I was approached by the Safohen for help.”
According to her, “the decision to help is not because I'm contesting the primaries and will be needing their votes. This is what I've been doing over the years. I have business interests in Apo and it's environs as well. I use the bridge every week and so l'm equally affected”.
“I am particularly disturbed because school buses will have to use the bridge to pick and drop students. Education is one of my priorities and so anything that stands in its provision, l am against it. Again, imagine if there is an emergency be it fight outbreak, medical emergency and most importantly when a pregnant woman is due and will require medical attention. Many things can go wrong due to the bridge collapse. So it's not for any political reason but purely on humanitarian grounds.”
She continued: “Even when I emerge as the winner, these requests will come in droves and so I need to develop a strategy in dealing with them and so the Apo example comes in handy as a good learning experience.”
The concrete bridge has finally been completed but users will have to wait for the next 40 days before they can start using it.
Safohen Baidoo Mensah praised ‘Maame Takyiwaa' for her support and prayed that “the gods help her with her ambitions.”