The Ministry of Health (MOH) has justified the need to demolish and reconstruct the 45-year-old abandoned Maternal and Child Health Unit (MCHU) block of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi.According to the Ministry, evidence from several technical, architectural and structural tests on the building suggests that the integrity of the structure in its current state cannot be guaranteed.
Reinforcing the columns and beams to continue with its construction would not also give the country value for money.
Mr Benjamin Ampomah Nkansah, Director of Infrastructure at the Ministry of Health, told senior journalists in Kumasi that the Ministry had tried and made several technical efforts to save the building through reinforcement and others, but that could not guarantee its structural integrity.
He said the path taken to construct a new building for the MCHU was in the interest of the nation, adding that the new project after completion would reflect the needs of KATH and aspirations of the people who were yearning to receive quality healthcare.
Mr Richard Vanderpuye, Head of Architectural Engineering of MOH, pointed out that the number of defects detected on the building after subjecting it to vigorous technical assessment indicated that any aggressive work on any part of the structure could cause a serious problem.
He said the weak foundations, rusty iron rods, poor quality of the concrete beams, excessive corrosion of the re-bars and other defects raised serious concerns about the ability and sustainability of the structure to withstand the test of time.
Mr Vanderpuye said though there were going to be changes in the scope and structure of the new block, it was still the way to go to obtain value for money.
The new building which would have 500 beds and other facilities is expected to be completed in 36 months.
Mr Simon Osei Mensah, Ashanti Regional Minister-designate, said whatever was being done on the building was for the benefit and best interest of the people.
He said though the demolition had put the people in a very difficult situation it was better to have a new building than to continue with the old one which could collapse in the near future and plunge the country into a serious mess.
Mr Osei Mensah said the reduction in the number of beds in the new building indicated the need to speed up efforts to get all on-going hospital projects in the region to be completed on time to ensure that people have access to quality healthcare in every part of the region.
Dr Oheneba Owusu-Danso, Chief Executive of KATH, pointed out that the relevance of the MCHU project to the provision of quality specialist services, training and research to the people of Ghana through the provision of additional space and modern equipment could not be understated.
He said the management of the hospital fully endorsed the new direction for the project and would support its execution to ensure that durable and fit for purpose specialist facility was delivered for the benefit of the long-suffering people in the region in the shortest possible time.
The announcement of the demolition of the 45-year-old imposing structure came as a surprise to many residents in Kumasi, since the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, have jointly cut sod to reactivate the project on May 15, 2020.
The concerns of many people are whether the building actually has serious structural defects which called for its total demolition.
Again, the people are also concerned about whether the new building which is going to be constructed will not suffer the same fate of abandonment given the number of projects which have been left uncompleted in several parts of the region.