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27.02.2008 General News

Pupils In Danger - Flying Stones From Quarry Hinder Teaching

By Daily Graphic
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Whenever the rocks are blasted, the schoolchildren have to vacate their classrooms and find shelter in nearby bushes to avoid being hurt. The blast also produces clouds of dust and sometimes leaves cracks in the buildings in the community.

Teachers and pupils of Mampong Shai D/A Basic School in the Dangme East District of the Greater Accra Region have called for the re-location of the school, since the present location poses a threat to their lives.

They contended that the present location near a stone quarry exposed the pupils to danger and hindered teaching and learning.

Whenever the rocks are blasted, the schoolchildren have to vacate their classrooms and find shelter in nearby bushes to avoid being hurt. The blast also produces clouds of dust and sometimes leaves cracks in the buildings in the community.

In an interview, the Assistant Headmaster of the school, Mr Morgan Attuh, said the children were always in a state of fear whenever they came to school, since sometimes they were taken unawares by the explosion at the quarry site.

“Anytime the school is informed of an impending blast, teaching and learning are suspended to enable the children to take shelter in the bushes far away,” he said.

Mr Attuh recalled that during the third term of the 2006/2007 academic year, for instance, when the children were busily playing, there was a sudden explosion, with stone chippings flying all over, adding that one big chipping even got buried deep in the school compound.

He said it was by the grace of God that the school did not record any casualties during that incident, noting, however, that it left the pupils in a state of panic and shock.

Mr Attuh said after the incident, the schoolchildren went on a protest march to the offices of Eastern Quarries to register their displeasure to the management.

The assistant headmaster said the vibrations had caused cracks in the walls of the teachers' bungalow, as well as the porch of the JHS block, which had caved in as a result

addimng that they had been informed that the bungalow could collapse within the next eight years if nothing was done about it.

When the Junior Graphic contacted the Director of the quarry, Mr Valtiero Bovelacci, he explained that as a result of the numerous complaints by the school, the company had relocated to a new site which was further away from school.

He, however, attributed the cracks in the school building to the inferior materials used in its construction but was quick to add that his company was doing repair works on the JHS block as well as the teachers' bungalow.

Asked why the quarry was sited so close to the school he argued that the company had been in existence long before the school was sited in the area.

He said however, that whenever the company had to blast the rocks, it informed the school and the people in the community.

Mr Bovelacci said the last time there was a blast in the area was on December 22, 2007, insisting that activities in the area had since ceased.

The Chief of Mampong-Shai, Nene Oko Zuta, said the operations of the company had been a source of worry to the people because whenever there was a blast they had to run for cover in the nearby bushes.

He said even though the company claimed that it had moved from the area, the people were not certain when it would return.

Since this was not the first time they had moved further away and come back.

Story by Hannah A. Amoah

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