Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ex-Prez Rawlings’ Ridge residence razed by fire

14thFeb-In the early hours of Sunday morning, around 4:20am fire gutted the official residence of former president Jerry John Rawlings leaving nothing to be salvaged. Accra experienced a heavy downpour of rain amidst power fluctuations, which many Ghanaian journalists speculate may have been the cause of the fire.
The house currently stands roofless on a brick frame that serves as a mount for the building. Smoke from the fire has left black patches on the walls as the fire decimated the entire house. No one was hurt.

Meanwhile, GRIDCO, the main power distribution company in Ghana has confirmed that a fire outbreak the critical sub-station equipment in Tema was the cause of the energy fluctuation that happened around 1.00am. The Public Affairs outfit of the company has described as “unfair and premature” comments blaming them for the fire at the ex president’s residence before even investigations have been completed.

Five fire tenders from the Ghana National Fire Service headquarters got to the grounds in 4minutes after a distress call was made to them. But public comments have suggested the need for government fully resource the Service as they could not help the situation.

This incident is coming after recent fire attacks at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the offices of the Ghana Education Service at Tudu, a section of the Ministry of information, the Tema Oil Refinery and the Kumasi and Accra Asafo markets within the last one year of the President Mills administration. Former president J.A. Kuffour, in a statement to show sympathy and solidarity with the Rawlings, said the latest fire unpleasant incident was “one too many” and called on government to act swiftly in looking in to the affairs of the fire service to make them efficient.

At the time of posting this article, the cause of the fire had still not yet been established. Government says it is treating this occurrence as a national security issue. President Mills, in a directive, have asked the office of the Chief of Staff to hastily look for a temporary residence to house the former first family.
The president was among top government and National Democratic Congress (NDC) officials, who went to witness on first hand the ruins of the devastation. Police barricaded the residence to prevent party activists and sympathizers as well as surging reporters.

But there is an interesting twist to this ill fate suffered by Rawlings. Days before the fire attack, a well-known NDC activist and supporter of Jerry Rawlings was widely reported in local tabloids to have cursed the former president. Alhaji Bature said Rawlings would incur the wrath of God if he did not stop being overly critical of the current regime.

Rawlings founded the National Democratic Congress party in 1992 after 12years of Military rule. The NDC lost power in the year 2000 only to return in 2008 under the leadership of President Mills. Interestingly, Rawlings has been more critical of the government than the opposition parties, describing the president as “slow” and calling Ministers in the regime as “greedy bastards.”

Mr. Rawlings, who described the situation as a “painful loss” to journalists was not in the house when the fire broke. He had to drive to Accra from the Volta Region where he had gone to help local farmers at Wume, near Sogakope in a weed clearing project over the weekend. Former first lady and wife of Rawlings, Nana Konadu, was alone with eldest daughter, Yaa Asantewa at the time the inferno started. The Rawlings’ have lived at the colonial designed ridge bungalow since the 1980’s during the PNDC (Provisional National Defence Council) days till date.

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