The Shoprite supermarket at the Accra Mall has become an apparent deathtrap to hundreds of customers following the mounting of scaffolds for an ongoing renovation work inside the shop.
Scaffolds have within the last month been erected inside part of the shopping area without the necessary and adequate safety precautions, thus raising concerns over a seeming tragedy as customers leisurely go on with their shopping without safety gears.
The groceries and electronic section of the supermarket where the scaffolds are mounted, have not been cordoned off or restricted to shoppers as is required by safety standards, though caution signs have been placed in the affected area.
As at 10:00am Monday, scores of customers had thronged the place to shop while engineers were busily on site. It is unclear whether regulators will order the closure of the shop, which is one of the well patronized shops within the Accra Mall.
Officials at the Department of Factories Inspectorate at the Ministry of Employment and Labour say they have contacted management of Shoprite and that they expect them to cordon off the affected section of the supermarket by Tuesday.
Director of the Department, Fred Mensah, said “The scaffolds were there [Monday morning] which is not acceptable. It is not a good practice. At least if you’ve erected a scaffold, there should be a barricade.
“These scaffolds can come off and hit anyone. Normally, when you erect a scaffold, you barricade so no one gets access to that environment because someone will be working out there and a metal can fall from up down,” he said on TV3 Monday.
“It’s really a hazard. We told them we will be back tomorrow and by tomorrow, we hope that that place will be barricaded,” he assured.
But safety advocate, Nana Annoh-Emihere expressed disappointment in the decision of the Department of Factories Inspectorate, and wished the supermarket ought to have been closed immediately the situation there was brought to the attention of the officials.
“…anywhere else, the shop would have been closed immediately and then they will be ordered either to cordon off the scaffolding or to remove them before they open the shop to the public but nothing of that sort has been heard,” he said on Midday Live.
He argued that the scaffolding erected at the supermarket doesn’t comply with safety standards, adding “What I saw there, if I were to go and do an inspection and certify these scaffolding, it will fail per every measure of the standard”, though he said there were no workmen on it at the time.
Wherever you put scaffolding, you must barricade it, cordon it off and declare it as a work zone. If you go into a place where scaffolding is erected, you must wear helmet. It is a danger to the general public which shouldn’t be so,” he said.
Meanwhile, management of the shop who decline to speak on camera claimed they have gone through all safety measures, and assured customers that nothing untoward would happen.