General News of Wednesday, 13 September 2017
Majority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, has backed the decision of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), to demolish portions of the Old Parliament House building.
The demolition of the structure that housed the Gold Coast Legislative Assembly from 1951 when Dr. Kwame Nkrumah became the leader of government Business under British rule, has revived concerns about how the country protects its heritage sites.
Speaking at a press soiree in Accra, the Majority Leader argued that it was better to pull down the structure than leave it in its previous state.
“That structure was gutted by fire sometime back, but sometimes when you want to do a rehabilitation of a structure that has been gutted by fire, the integrity of which structure might have suffered tremendously, you do not go about reinforcing the existing structure. It is better you pull it down. I guess that might have informed the decision to pull it down and rebuild a new structure to replace it,” Mr. Kyei Mensah Bonsu explained.
“Remember when we came to dealing with our own Job 600 complex. Some of us argued at the time that what commitment was going to go into it, we could better save to perhaps demolish the structure and begin a new one. At the beginning, when that structure was valued, it was said that it was going to cost us about $25 million to refurbish. You know the total cost of the rehabilitation of Job 600 when we finished? It is close to 100 million dollars. If we had demolished it and reconstructed that edifice, how much was it going to cost us?” he added.
Although some key stakeholders have criticized the demolition, CHRAJ has since defended its decision, saying the move was aimed at protecting the health and safety of the workers of CHRAJ.
CHRAJ was accused of usurping the authority of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly by proceeding to demolish the Chamber and adjoining offices of the Old Parliament House in Accra, without getting the required permit from the AMA.
The Commissioner of CHRAJ, Joseph Whittal in explaining the circumstances under which the building was pulled down however explained that: “Since the burning in 2013, that section has posed a health hazard, indeed every person who works around those places knows that indeed this is unhealthy because we are breathing in the fumes and all those things.”
“The part that is burnt is beyond recovery and so since 2013, we have made efforts to have this taken out. We have informed the AMA, unfortunately, we’ve not had funds, it is only this year that we had funds from the central government to demolish and reconstruct the old Chamber and the adjoining offices.”