Some expansion joints on the Ankobra River Bridge at Prestea, a gold mining town in the Western Region, are collapsing and striking incessant fear of death to road users and travellers along the Prestea-Bogoso road.
Today understands that the bridge, which has served and continues to serve millions of road users and travellers for more than five decades, was in a state of near-dilapidation and showing obvious signs of possible collapse unless something was done soon.
Among the communities that use the bridge are Himan, Ankobra, Bondaye, Prestea and Poviaji. The rest are Brumase, Dumase and Kwameniampa.
In recent times, however, Today gathered that some expansion joints on the bridge, which serve residents of Prestea and the people of Bogoso, have become weak and exposed, causing accidents.
A close examination of the cracks on the bridge showed that they have developed over the years due primarily to a lack of proper maintenance of the bridge by officials of Ghana Highway Authority (GHA)
That worrying situation has compelled the residents to appeal to the Ghana Highway Authority and Ministry of Roads and Highways to fix the problem in order to prevent future accidents and deaths of innocent persons in the event that the bridge collapses.
Today discovered that drivers using the bridge always try to swerve the exposed joints by veering off into the opposite lane, sometimes hitting motor riders popularly called street hawkers.
Some students and pupils from Prestea, who cross the bridge during weekdays to attend school, have also expressed fears about the nature of the bridge.
Traders who also do business across the bridge are equally afraid of the situation.
Speaking in an interview with Today via telephone yesterday scores of residents of Prestea expressed fears that the Ankobra Bridge could soon cave in, considering the deteriorating condition and cracks it has developed.
This situation, according to them, was causing fear amongst users.
The residents laid the blame squarely on the doorsteps of mining companies operating in the area, as well as illegal mining (galamsey) activities being undertaken by some residents under the bridge.
They said that the continuous use of the bridge by heavy-duty trucks belonging to the mining companies had contributed to the cracks on the bridge.
They told Today that they had complained to their opinion leaders to stop the heavy-duty trucks from using the bridge, but nothing had come out of it.
“Sometimes we will have to wait for several minutes for the heavy-duty trucks to finish carting their goods before we can access same,” they lamented.
They explained that the bridge was all the time shaking anytime heavy-duty trucks use it, and called on the highway authority and ministry of roads and highways to put in place measures to fix the problem.
They averred that the continuous use of the bridge by heavy-duty trucks belonging to the mining companies had contributed to the cracks on the bridge.
They told Today that they had complained to their opinion leaders to stop those trucks.
They complained that apart from the heavy-duty trucks, pedestrians also use it at a grave risk.
Story: Freeman KORYEKPOR AWLESU