Neglect of state property: Black Star Square left to decay? …urgent steps needed to restore facility

The Black Star Square is fast deteriorating as Ghana’s habitual neglect of key state edifices extend to the foremost public gathering space in the national capital, Accra.

As a result, the integrity of the facility has been compromised making the eight stands a ‘deathtraps’ for attendees of the many national programmes that are held there.

Squatters that have invaded the place
Squatters that have invaded the place

When the Ghanaian Times visited the 30,000 sitting capacity square, also known as the Independence Square, over the last one week, it observed cracks in the concrete slaps which serve as seats with corroded rods in the beams, caused by the breeze from the sea some 200 metres south of the facility.

Across all eight stands, there were visible signs of leaking roofs, broken seats, hanging live electrical wires and faded colour paintings disfiguring the facility.

Deteriorating concrete slabs at the square

Most of the roofing over the middle stand of the three on the west which borders the Births and Deaths Registry, were completely wiped off exposing the facility to the vagaries of the weather with the others hanging by a thread and blown by the wind occasionally.

The two stands beside the VIP section do not have seats as people would have to sit on the unpolished concrete slabs.

Some roofs ripped off at the Black

One could also see corroded iron rods firming the 2×4 inches woods bearing the aluminum roofing sheets indicating that a heavy storm could wipe off the roofing.

The Ghanaian Times also noted that the concrete bridges that linked the stands and the inner perimeters were broken and improvised with a wooden one.

The facility now also serves as home for the homeless; not only man but birds with their droppings littered over the place, their nests hanging in between pillars as they chirped in and out of the place.

The stairs were all littered with polythenes and other waste from previous activities which has not be cleared. The seats that were not broken had traces of water gathered on them from the leaking roof.

However, the national flag with the black star in a white circle and the Coat of Arms at either end of each stand retain their sharp looks glowing in the faded paintings.

The Ghanaian Times was unable to access the VIP section as officers from the National Security outfit stationed there would not permit even a passage behind the two-tier facility.

For the human inhabitants like Michael Annan, and Ibrahim Musa, that is the only home they have known for more than five years.

Speaking in the broken language Michael said since his uncle’s wife hounded him out of the house some five years ago, the square has since been his abode as he puffs his cigarette away.

His new brother, Musa, said since leaving Walewale in 2020 and briefly staying with his cousin at Agbogbloshie until the demolition of the place in 2021, the Independence Square has been his home. A distant away from them, another group of young men were cooking as some were sorting out shirts and polishing shoes they have bought from secondhand clothes dealers for the market.

A highly placed source at the Public Works Department, Prestige, former managers of the facility, told the Ghanaian Times that a comprehensive audit of the facility had been submitted to the Ministry of Works and Housing in 2016 but little has been done to restore its integrity.

“In the past, we were given money to keep the place in shape until no cash syndrome hit us and eventually the management of the place assigned to the Office of the President,” the source which spoke on condition of anonymity confided. 

When contacted, the Estates Manager at the Office of the President, Barbara Mills-Tetteh, requested that a letter was addressed to the Chief Director, Office of the President, for green light for the “appropriate person who can speak on the matter.”

Constructed in 1961 to coincide with the first visit of the now late Queen of England, Elizabeth II, a year after Ghana gained its republican status, the ground has remained the number one rallying point for national events.

Until 2019 when a rotational policy was introduced in respect of the commemoration of Independence Day, the ground, also known as the Independence Square, has hosted the annual Workers’ Day parades, the EidUl-Fitr and EidUl-Adha Islamic prayers, Christian and social gatherings.

Despite this importance, the square has not seen any major maintenance in recent times leaving it to decay and which poses danger to lives who may patronise the place in the future.

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI

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