Cape Coast, Ghana – September 8, 2023 – The Cape Coast Court Complex, a 47-year-old coastal structure adjacent to Cape Coast Castle, is deteriorating rapidly, raising serious safety concerns for its occupants and visitors.
Despite being inaugurated on Saturday, October 9, 1976, the building has not seen significant renovation or maintenance in many years.
This critical legal facility houses approximately 10 courts, including two District Courts, two Circuit Courts, two Commercial Courts, three High Courts, and a Court of Appeal.
However, the structure's condition has significantly deteriorated over the years, with visible deep cracks, falling rubble, eroded pillars, corroded iron rods, broken windows, leaking roofing, damaged ceilings, and non-functioning washrooms, among other deplorable conditions.
While some parts of the building, like the Commercial Courts and certain offices, have been freshly painted, creating a deceptive sense of safety, other areas experience water seeping through cracked walls during rainfall.
According to an anonymous lawyer speaking to the Ghana News Agency (GNA), “One of the High Courts leaks so badly that any time it rains, they have to use a bucket to collect the water pouring from the ceiling.”
The building's perilous condition was tragically exemplified when a police officer was injured by falling rubble at one of the entrances, leading to a court ban on people sitting in that area.
Despite a few closures for renovation attempts, the Cape Coast Court Complex remains hazardous. It was temporarily closed on Wednesday, February 8, and Thursday, February 9, 2017, for assessment by the Architectural and Engineering Services Company (AESC), which examined the building's safety and recommended necessary repairs.
Court staff, speaking anonymously, expressed their concerns about the building's condition and noted that key authorities, including the President, Chief Justice, and Regional Minister, were aware of the situation but had not taken practical action.
Experts, including AESC, have determined that the building's foundation remains strong, but it requires substantial refurbishment to ensure its stability.
The sea breeze is cited as a significant factor contributing to the building's deterioration, prompting calls for immediate rehabilitation to prevent further damage and potential disasters.
A court staff member stated, “We are living here in fear because anything can happen at any moment; meanwhile, everybody up there is aware of the situation. I understand a plot of land has been secured for a new court structure, but I do not see that happening any time soon. We need urgent renovation of this one before a catastrophe occurs.”
Madam Esi Annan, a local vendor, expressed her disappointment with the building's deteriorating appearance, emphasizing that it does not befit a major courthouse in the Central Regional Capital.
She noted the negative image it portrays to tourists visiting the Cape Coast Castle and lamented the lack of action despite frequent inspections and photography by visitors.
Reporting by Prince Acquah. Editing by Mariam Aminu.