Once a booming business community receiving scores of traders from all walks of life now a stand still isolated and deserted community.
It's the home of the Sirigu Women's Organization of Pottery and Art which received UN secretary general late Busumurum Kofi Annan in August 2002. Late Professor John Evans Atta Mills once laid a block for the establishment of a secondary school in same community which is now the only star of hope for the community and its' environs. The community houses an orphanage and a large market. The market is the cash cow for the Kassena Nankana West District in terms of revenue mobilization.
But the lights and hopes of this natural developing and beaming community are darkening and dimming day-by-day.
Aside its' already trouble of chieftaincy litigations and desertion by political actors, the community is currently fighting with nature and is in dire need of corporate and philanthropic assistance.
All roads leading to Sirigu in the Kassena Nankana West District of the Upper East Region are in a deplorable state with many of the bridges cut off and most alarming, the drainage in the market square is now a swimming pool housing frogs, mosquitoes and reptiles.
Fig:1 An algae infested water in Sirigu Market
On rainy days, the market women compete with frogs as they try to display their wares to potential buyers. The Sirigu Market has been without a plan since its inception but attracts traders from Burkina Faso, Bolgatanga, Bongo District, Navrongo and other neighboring communities.
On a typical market day, the market receives not less than thousand in terms of trader population.
When I visited the community in August, 2020, I observed that the bridge at Abagne which was built in the 1980s was washed off. The road from zorko had deep potholes. The bridge linking some communities to the market and other places has been washed off. The entire drainage system in the market including the lorry station area and the police station area was in a deplorable state. The community now is an island.
The President of the Sirigu Youth Association, Mr Matthew Abagna had bemoaned the situation saying “the drainage system in the market has been a very long time project with several petitions and appeals to no avail. But this cannot continue to be in the heart of the market. There's the need for something drastic to be done to save lives (as this will continue to be breeding grounds for mosquitoes).”
According to Mr Abagna, the DCE for Kassena Nankana West District, Hon. Gerald Atuogya after a meeting with him, “followed up to ascertain the state of the drainage system in the market.” But since his visit, the situation has remained unchanged. “We complained on several occasions about the situation of this drainage and roads, but nothing has been done,” he added.
On this helpless situation, the community needs assistance from philanthropists, individuals, government and non-governmental organizations to help it come out of these crises.
Many of the roads and bridges are now deathtraps to citizens in this community and the general commuting public.
Fig: 2 A washed off bridge in Sirigu
Photo credit: Atanga Samuel, Sirigu.
The COVID-19 pandemic which has interrupted life’s activities and led to the closure of schools might have been a blessing especially to the community in this present period of rainy season.
The fear and possibility of school children drowning due to the collapse of the bridges would have been something no one wishes to imagine.
Because of the nature of the roads, access to neighboring towns for economic activities and health care is extremely difficult while the drainage system in the community market is a breeding ground for the outbreak of diseases such as malaria, diarrhoea and cholera.
Vehicles from Bolga and Navrongo no longer travel to the community after 5pm. Passengers from either towns to the community had to sleep at their departure location to catch up the next available car the following morning. Some traders have now deserted the community to other communities to trade.
The situation in the community is unfortunate. Stakeholders, especially politicians in the area are aware of the poor condition of the roads and development in the whole of Kassena Nankana East Zone but had over the years played politics with it. Somewhere in 2016, a youth group, Ukanaeast, registered their displeasure about the bad nature of roads in the area but their loud voices were never heard by the government at the time. The situation is not different today.
Concerned members of the Sirigu community said they were worried about the situation of the roads and stressed that “The roads are totally washing away and they have become deathtraps to motorists".
Populations losing their lives and livelihood keep increasing because of the bad nature of these roads.
The poor condition in the community if not attended to immediately could have a huge consequence on the lives and livelihood of the people.
The community is dying because of the seeming neglect by state actors and failure by successive governments to develop the Ukanaeast area especially the Sirigu Community.
In this light, the community is passionately appealing to the government and NGOs to come to her aid.