Student drowns attempting to fetch water from abandoed pit

A final year student of the Diabene Secondary Technical School in Sekondi-Takoradi on Saturday drowned in an abandoned, water-filled quarry used by students as their only source of water. 

Master Bernard Aikins, in the company of friends, was attempting to fetch water to do his laundry when he slipped and drowned, sparking demonstrations by students on Monday which temporarily disrupted academic work. 

When the Daily Graphic arrived at the school at about 8a.m. on Monday, the students, in their school uniform and clad in red arm bands were chanting war songs and shouting repeatedly “we want water”.

Narrating the incident, some of the students told the Daily Graphic the late Bernard Aikins, in the company of his friends went to the abandoned quarry on Saturday afternoon to wash their clothes and take their bath since water does not flow through the school’s taps.

They said, while halfway through the washing, Master Aikins slipped into the abandoned pit about the size of a football field as he attempted to fetch water to complete his washing.

His colleagues said Master Aikins drifted quickly into the deepest part of the pit and never came up again.

They said after waiting fruitlessly for about 15 minutes in the hope that Master Aikins could swim up, they ran to the school’s hostel to call in those who could swim to help.

But several dives yielded only the lifeless body of Master Aikins.

The demonstrating students, who number over 1,000, claim they were being charged for water and electricity as part of their school fees, but the school authorities had failed to provide the water.

The students said their agitation was to impress upon the school authorities to supply students with potable water. They are of the view that if nothing is done and the students continue to use the abandoned pit it could result in other fatalities.

They said they get skin rashes from using the greenish water but because they have no other choice, they are forced to use it.

The headmaster of the school, Mr. Debrah Sarpong was not on campus at the time of the visit. He was alleged to have gone to the police to report on developments at the school.

However, the Regional Director of Education, Nii Lantey Cleland who heard about the incident and rushed to the school, described the incident as an unfortunate.

He expressed shock that the school was not providing water to the students and asked the student leaders to calm down and forward their grievances in writing to his office.

He promised an investigation to determine how best their problems could be solved and said a delegation of education officials including himself would visit the bereaved family later.

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