The Acting Director-General of the Ghana Geological Survey Authority (GGSA), Isaac Mwinbelle, has provided compelling reasons for the Bank of Ghana (BoG) to relocate its headquarters from its present location to Ridge due to seismic concerns.
Mr. Mwinbelle emphasised the need to prioritise structural safety in an earthquake-prone region during an interview with GBC News.
“The recent tremor that occurred in Jamestown, which is in close proximity to the current Bank of Ghana location, serves as a wake-up call. Although we haven’t seen tremors here, the risk cannot be ignored,” Mr. Mwinbelle stated.
The GGSA director highlighted that Ghana’s coastal region, particularly Accra, stands as an earthquake-prone area due to the presence of fault lines. He underlined that several fault lines traverse the coastal regions, with notable ones in Kokrobite, Weija and Dansoman responsible for significant past tremors and earthquakes.
“The earthquake on March 10th this year had its epicentre near Jamestown, indicating a potential shift toward the current Bank of Ghana location,” Mr. Mwinbelle noted.
Mr. Mwinbelle commended the Bank of Ghana’s proactive approach, stating: “Assessing the current location’s suitability for the Central Bank is a positive move. It ensures the institution’s safety, along with its personnel and assets”.
Speaking on the specific risk, he explained: “Historically, earthquakes have primarily originated off the coast into the sea. Ridge’s distance from the coastline, in comparison to the High Street area where the current headquarters is sited, reduces the risk of structural damage during earth tremors”.
The GGSA mandates pre-construction ground investigations to determine the potential impact of active fault lines on building integrity. Mr. Mwinbelle expressed uncertainty about the adequacy of such assessments for the existing Bank of Ghana building. However, he noted that the Bank’s risk department has incorporated these factors into planning the new headquarters building at Ridge.
“The new structure, designed with reinforced materials, should be capable of withstanding tremors and earthquakes. It’s been factored to handle ground acceleration, thus ensuring enhanced safety,” Mr. Mwinbelle assured.
The need for relocation gained further traction after a structural integrity assessment conducted by the Bank of Ghana revealed the current headquarters, constructed in the 1960s, lacks the strength to withstand major tremors. The assessment indicated the building doesn’t meet necessary strength-requirements for safety, making it vulnerable to gravity, wind-loads and significant earthquake forces.
In light of these findings, the Bank’s board and management recognised the urgency of constructing a new headquarters building. With a vision of establishing Ghana as the sub-region’s financial hub and potentially host a regional central bank, the decision to relocate aims to bolster operational efficiency and strengthen the Bank’s position.
“The new headquarters project stands as a critical priority, aligning with our strategic objectives and the prospect of hosting a regional central bank. We are committed to ensuring the safety of our operations and contributing to the sub-region’s financial stability,” the Bank’s statement emphasised.
As the Bank of Ghana embarks on this significant relocation endeavour, the nation watches with keen interest as seismic concerns become a focal point in safeguarding the country’s financial heart.