A multi-million cedi playground and library built for children in Kumasi and its environs in the early 1990s has been abandoned.The multi-purpose facility, which is popularly known as the Kumasi Children's Park, has now been taken over by physically challenged people, drug peddlers and dangerous reptiles making it a potential death zone for children.
While some churches are using part of the building for their activities, members of the public have also turned the surrounding bushes into their place of convenience. Meanwhile, the two main institutions that have oversight responsibility for the park and need to ensure that it is used for the purposes for which it was built are in a tussle over it.
While the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) wants to convert the place into a Trade Fair Centre, the Ghana National Commission on Children (GNCC) wants to keep the park for the purpose for which it was built.
When the Junior Graphic team visited the park, which is located by the main road to Amakom, a suburb of Kumasi, it realised that the park looked neglected, weedy and was littered with pieces of paper and polythene bags. Besides, the building which housed the library had had part of its roof ripped off, with the few rusty seesaws and merry-go-round standing among the weeds like metal soldiers.
Interestingly, the only building at the park which was in good condition bore the inscription: International Christian Assembly (ICA), while another banner over the front view of the same building had Power Life Ministry printed on it.
Though the team visited the place on a weekday, some of the church members were seen arranging chairs for a crusade.When some members of the congregation were asked who authorised them to use the building, they mentioned the KMA. However, when the KMA was contacted, it had a different story to tell.
In an interview with the Public Relations Officer of the KMA, Mr Kwame Frimpong, he confirmed plans to use the place for trade fairs, since it was being underutilised. He said he was aware that the area had been taken over by social misfits as well as some churches, but denied the fact that the place was given to the churches by the KMA.
“KMA has the intention to put up an ultra-modern fair facility which will include the library and the play area for children. However, the GNCC is not giving us that chance,” he said.Mr Peter Eduful, the Regional Co-ordinator of the GNCC, was not happy about the state of the Children's Park and said it is an eyesore to watch the place dying slowly while little is being done to address the situation.
He said initially, the park had a well-stocked library, a cultural centre and a playing field where children from all parts of the Ashanti Region usually went to have inter-school fun and educational activities.But he admitted that the park was now dangerous for children to visit because they could be easily harmed by either the drug peddlers or the mentally challenged people living there.
On what led to the abandonment of the facility, he said a storm in the late 1990s ripped off part of the roof and the tiles of the library which were never replaced.
Thereafter, the library was given out to the Ghana Library Board (GBL) to manage but the books got worn out and they were never replaced. “The poor nature of the building and the lack of books discouraged children from patronising the library to study and also play in the park,” he added. As a result, the place was gradually run down.
But, fortunately, he said, a Japanese organisation had promised to assist to bring the park back to life because it is the only play and learn facility for children in the Ashanti Region.
Some children interviewed said until the weeds are cleared and the drug peddlers and physically challenged people are moved out, they will stay away from the place. They maintained that they could either be injured or sexually abused if they use the park