The Kintampo Waterfalls incident, which claimed 19 lives and injured 21 others last Sunday, has brought to the fore how a beautiful tourist facility has been left to rot over the years.
A tour of the facility by the Daily Graphic yesterday has revealed that the nation was sitting on a time bomb all these years as tourists patronised the waterfalls oblivious of the danger it posed to their lives.
And alas, the day came unannounced and the Kyenkyen tree, which obviously had become a dead wood, broke into two with the upper half crushing revellers just about 30 minutes after they had started enjoying the serene atmosphere of the facility.
Days before the incident, bushfires had swept through the forest surrounding the waterfalls and burnt the trees, one of which was the Kyenkyen tree, which fell on that fateful day.
The Kintampo Waterfalls has three levels, beginning from level one at the top and descending gradually to the third level where it falls into a pool.
The strong wind that culminated in the falling of a number of trees started from the first level and went through the forest.
“It was like a bulldozer passing through the forest,” that was how a tour guide of the Kintampo Waterfalls, Mr Frank Owusu, described it when he led this reporter to assess the situation yesterday.
It was obvious that the wind that accompanied the sudden rainfall was strong since tens of trees could not stand the might of the “hurricane”.
Big and small trees were uprooted right from the first level of the waterfalls to the third level where the already dead Kyenkyen tree stood.
An official of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) who described the tragedy as very unfortunate spoke about plans to have a partnership with the GTA, the Kintampo Municipal Assembly and traditional authorities to bring the facility up to standard.
“Under the plan, we will make sure that all parties are part of the management and funds set aside from proceeds for maintenance and capacity building of the tour guides,” he said.
Next week, the official said the GTA would dispatch health, safety and security officials to start the safety audit.
He said based on the recommendations, the challenges would be fixed before the Kintampo Waterfalls would be re-opened to the public.
“The GTA is also working on public liability insurance for patrons of all tour attractions, “ he said.
To make it effective, the GTA says, “We are sending proposals to Parliament to pass a Legislative Instrument (LI) that will mandate the GTA to licence and register all tour attractions.”
A tour assistant, Mr Sallas Mensah, who gave an eyewitness account of the March 19 tragedy, said that students from the Wenchi Methodist Senior High School arrived at about 3 p.m. just after students from the University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR) had arrived.
“Apart from the students who were about 120 in number, there were other people who were also at the facility to socialise, he said.
A hero of this national tragedy is one of the deceased who is said to have died in his efforts to save one of the people who got trapped in the pool.
Mr Mensah told the chilling story of the heroic act of one of the deceased who went down into the pool to rescue one of the victims only to be crushed by another falling tree on his way back to the staircase.
The Kintampo Waterfalls in its current state has nothing to be proud of, apart from the natural beauty of the waterfalls that had existed over the years.
The waterfalls is about 50 metres away from the Kintampo-Tamale highway on the outskirts of Kintampo. The road to the facility is not tarred.
A makeshift urinal at the entrance of the facility is in a bad state.
There are neither toilet nor urinal facilities at the poolside and those needing to respond to the call of nature have to climb the 152 steps staircase in order to access such facilities which are in themselves not in any desirable state.