Efua Sutherland Park loses shine; Gender Ministry says park not sold

There seems to be no end in sight to the deterioration at the state-owned Efua Sutherland Children’s Park.
The one-time vibrant park, strategically located in the heart of Accra, is on its knees.

In its glorious days, the facility was a centre of attraction for many families who sent their children there, especially on public holidays and weekends, to have fun.



Also, schools and various groups hosted programmes such as the award-winning Italian IL Florilegio Circus, fun fairs, among others, there.

Left to rot

However, for more than a decade, the one-time vibrant park has been left inactive.

This is in sharp contrast to private parks in the national capital which have been well kept and continue to receive patronage.

Notable private parks and family centres that have taken the space in the region are the Bliss Family Centre, Splash and Play, Kiddy Ground, Kids Cottage and The Play Zone.

Started in 1979, the Efua Sutherland Children’s Park was originally known as the Accra Children’s Park or the Ridge Park.

It was later renamed after the Ghanaian playwright and children’s books author, Efua Sutherland, who died in 1996, aged 72.

During the Eid-ul-Adha public holiday on Monday, July 11, the Daily Graphic visited the Efua Sutherland Children’s Park, and it was a sorry sight.



Between11.30 a.m and 1.30 p.m, there was no activity and the place was empty, with no individual or groups undertaking any form of activity.

Overgrown grass

Overgrown grass covered many parts of the 14.83-acre park, while playground equipment, such as swings, children’s train, merry-go-round and slides, had been left to the mercy of the weather, with some already rusty.

A number of homeless people have taken advantage of the development by using the place as their home.

There were no officials or caretakers at the park to interact with.

Ministry evades enquiries

Attempts to reach the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection for comments hit a snag, as officials were not ready to provide answers to enquiries.



However, on February 28, 2022, the ministry issued a statement in reaction to allegations that the park had been sold.

The statement indicated that the Efua Sutherland Children’s Park was still a government property and was not for sale.

“The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) wishes to inform the public that the Efua Sutherland Children’s Park is a government property designated as a Children’s Park.

“The development of the park into a modern facility is a top priority for the ministry. Proposals have been received in this respect and they are currently being reviewed. We, therefore, want to place on record that the Efua Sutherland Children’s Park remains a government property,” it said.

Importance

The National Tourism Customer Service Brand Ambassador for Ghana, Caleb Koffie, told the Daily Graphic that children’s parks played an important role in the growth of children.

In that case, he expressed disappointment at the deterioration of the Efua Sutherland Children’s Park.

He said it was important for the authorities to up their game.

Mr Koffie, who is the Executive Director of the Service Excellence Foundation, said it was the role of every government to create an environment that would build young children, saying children’s parks gave children the opportunity to gradually enhance their skills, such as social bonding, emotional, cognitive and critical development, which were necessary for their growth.

He said although revenue was accrued from parks through tourism, the communication and relationships built through engagements by kids and parents at the parks contributed to national cohesion, which help overcome social, ethnic and religious barriers or tolerance and promoted peace.

Political will needed

On the current state of the Efua Sutherland Children’s Park, he expressed his disappointment at the leadership of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection which was in charge of operations of the park.

He blamed them for not actively taking up initiatives to properly manage the park, which he said had now become a home for the riff raff, mentally retarded people and smokers and an abode for illegal activities.

He said the government could partner private individuals, groups or institutions to grow and maintain the Children’s Park to contribute to the growth of children in the country.

Sutherland Family unhappy

A source close to the Sutherland Family said they were also not happy with the state of the facility.

However, it said, the Gender Ministry had assured them that it was looking for private sector partners to bring the park back to life.

Private facilities

The Managing Director of the Bliss Family Centre at the Aviation Social Centre, a private facility, Laurencia Bobtoya, said the play centre, which opened in May this year, was aimed at giving opportunities to families who had not had the experience of enjoying such centres but had to travel outside to access it.

She said the space was a registered legal entity for both adults and kids aged six to 40 years, with 70 per cent of patronage being adults.

She said the peak moments were on weekends and public holidays, such as the Eid-ul-Adha.Speaking about challenges, Ms Bobtoya said: “We sometimes find it difficult controlling the crowds, as everyone wants to have a go at a particular game.”

At the Splash and Play Centre, a water park, kids were seen having fun, while their guardians watched on.

A parent who did not disclose his identity said the play centre was convenient and a choice for his kids because they had a lot of variety to choose from and they were carefully taken care of.

The water park is a spacious area that has an aqua house with six slides and spray features, a spray area with seven features and a dry playground.

Government must act

Other people who shared their views on the state of the Children’s Park expressed disappointment at the neglect.

“If the state can’t manage it, it should be leased to a private organisation to manage it. It can be transformed into a state-of-the-art amusement park, where both adults and children could go to have fun,” Stephen Farbeng, a salesperson, told the Daily Graphic.

A teacher, Isaac Manu, said the government needed to allocate funds for the renovation of the park, as the current state of the facility was a dent on the image of the country.

“Whatever has to be done by the authorities should be done quickly because, yet again, we are losing another important national asset,” K. Appiah, a retired banker, said.


Source:graphiconline 

Tagged:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.