One thousand and two hundred pupils who live at Ayigbe Town, SCC, Old Barrier, Bortianor and Broadcasting, all communities on one side of the Weija Dam, near Accra, put their lives in danger by scaling the walls of the dam daily to get to school.
Others who cannot climb the walls of the dam go through the wire fence gate to cross over the bridge to their respective schools.
Meanwhile, 275 from the Weija Cluster of Schools have dropped out as a result of the absence of a footbridge over the Weija Lake to enable them cross over to school.
The only existing footbridge which passes through the Weija Water Treatment Plant is not accessible to the schoolchildren as a result of a directive from the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing to close the gate leading to the dam.
Since the directive was issued last year, the Weija Methodist Basic School has recorded the highest dropout with a total number of 120 pupils. The rest are Weija Presbyterian Primary and Junior High School, 90 pupils; Weija Municipal Assembly JHS, 35; the St Joseph the Worker Primary, 15, with St Jude recording 15.
In addition, the schools are affected by persistent absenteeism and truancy because the pupils cannot afford the transportation fare to and from school.
This information was disclosed to graphic.com.gh by the various heads of the schools.
They are, therefore, calling on the government to build two bridges across the Densu outlet to help alleviate the plight of the children.
They also pleaded that as a short-term measure, the gate of the Weija Dam should be opened for only the schoolchildren guarded by security personnel to ensure their safety during school hours.
The Headmistress of Weija Methodist Basic School, Madam Faustina Forson, said since the closure of the Weija bridge, activities of the school had greatly been affected, with the major challenge being the rising rate of dropouts.
‘’The only source of passage for the schoolchildren was the Weija bridge but the Deputy Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Ms Hanna Bissiw, gave instruction for its closure. Since then the children had resorted to using various means to come to school because their parents cannot afford three transportation fares,” she said.
The Headmaster of Weija Presby JHS, Mr Bob Djah, said the students had adopted various ways to cross the lake to go to and from school at their peril.
He said while many of them prefered to dangerously climb the walls of the Weija Dam, others paid GH¢1.00 to board a canoe to ferry them across the lake, another dangerous move.
The Headmaster of Weija Municipal Assembly JHS, Mr Shraw Takyi Kodam, recalled that after the Weija dam footbridge was closed by the authorities, the assembly member for Weija came with a proposed sketch footbridge but its construction had not started.
He said although the municipal assembly did promise to get a bus to convey the pupils to school daily, the promise was yet to fulfilled.
Mr Kodam said over 80 percent of school pupils from the Weija cluster of schools lived at Ayigbe Town, SCC, Old Barrier, Bortianor and the Broadcasting areas.
Reacting to the situation, the Managing Director of GWCL, Mr Kweku Botwe, said the closure of the Weija bridge was to protect the dam.
He explained that the bridge was constructed for the workers of the Weija Treatment Plant to use during the spillage and other activities of the company.
‘’The bridge was not meant for the schoolchildren or residents living on the other side of the dam,’’ he stressed.
Mr Botwe noted that one major problem GWCL faced was that most of the residents who used the bridge dumped waste substances into the dam, which made it difficult for the dam to follow its natural course.
Others, he said, used the bridge to construct pipes to discharge their sewage into the dam.
The Ga South Municipal Director of Education, Mrs Florence Addo, said her outfit had not received any petition from the various heads of Weija cluster of schools concerning the dropout rate that has arisen because of the closure of the bridge.
An earlier report was carried on June 21, 2012, about how 400 pupils crossed the Weija Dam in canoes or change vehicles three times before getting to school.
Source: Dominic Moses Awiah/Daily Graphic
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