Efua Sutherland Children’s Park, an abandoned national treasure

GNA feature by Muniratu Akweley Issah

Accra, Aug. 15, GNA – Images of parents walking their children to a green park along one of Accra’s ceremonial roads are still glued to the memory of residents of the national capital.

The Efua Sutherland Park, named after the revered playwright and children storyteller, who dedicated her adult life to the Ghanaian child, is weedy, wild and neglected.

Children had access to various games and sporting activities to engage in, made new friends, and socialised on it when it had some use many years.

There were lots of play equipment at the park for children to choose from. It was just the right place to be during weekends and holidays, and children could not afford to miss the experience.

The Park was always open for children, and sometimes adults for various programmes or activities for recreation. It is a memorial to an exciting childhood.

The Efua Sutherland Children’s Park is a 14.83-acre public park designed as a recreational centre for children to use at their leisure time. Located in the Greater Accra Regional capital, it started in 1979, as Accra Children’s Park or Ridge Park and later renamed after Ghanaian playwright and children’s author.

The facility served as a place of attraction and generations have used its lush beautiful landscape and fine facilities.

The children’s park had many playing equipment, notable among them the railway, on which children huddled.

A visit by the Ghana News Agency to the facility revealed that the children’s Park in a deplorable state. Equipment that children used at the facility have become obsolete and rusty in nature.

The very lush well kept green grass landscape has withered, given way to weeds and a colony of insects and reptiles. Patches of dry and dusty ground are visible as some sections have lost the green cover.

After visiting the park, one would get home with a token from the wild:a dusty feet and an attire trapped in thorns.

The GNA observed that many cars were parked at the facility for auctioning, while a section of it, opposite the National Theatre was now being used as a restaurant. Squatters, the homeless and the neglected have also occupied another section.

For now, nothing seems to be happening at the facility, which has seen less development since its inception and that has been the situation for over a decade.

Formerly, event organisers rented the facility for fairs and exhibitions, however, events of such nature have not been consistent or recurrent as citizens keep loosing sight of the facility.

Many Citizens have expressed disappointment at the rate of deterioration at the Park as authorities watch with a passive posture. The iconic park was once considered as a tourist attraction.

Recently, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection ( MoCSP) denied speculations that the Park has been sold.

In February this year, the Ministry issued a statement, in reaction to the allegations fueled by the park’s neglect, saying that the Park was still government’s 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,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, the Korle Klottey Municipal Assembly (KOKMA) claims to have designed a proposal, seeking for a mandate to renovate the facility and get the place back to action.

All these statements mean nothing if the park is allowed to slip into a wild stretch of land in the Capital city of Accra.

Many of such public properties have been left to rot as statements are made and press conference held to deny such realities.

The giggles, sounds and sights of happy children having fun on the park remain sheer memories.

But for the snakes and rodents which are having fun and chasing prey for a meal, the inertia on the part of the Ministry and the Assembly is heaven sent.