An interview Media Without Borders was conducting with Godfred Nabil Nongbezina, an employee of Earl International Group Ghana Gold Limited, a Chinese gold-mining firm also referred to as Shaanxi Mining Company Limited, almost ended midway on Thursday, 13 July 2023.
The 24-year-old underground mechanic lost his right arm less than two months ago at his workplace. While narrating how the accident happened, tears came to his eyes all of a sudden.
He paused and titled his head back, resting it on the backrest of a sofa and looking at the ceiling contemplatively. Still teary-eyed, the interview was almost called off.
However, he summoned some resilience, leaning his head back in front from the backrest of the sofa to continue with the narration. But he wiped a tear with the back of the remaining left hand first before he continued.
How it happened
An FC Bayern Munich supporter, Godfred had planned to watch the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg between eventual trophy winners Manchester City and Real Madrid on Wednesday, 17 May 2023, after office hours.
But he was not found on that Champions League night at any football viewing centre, where he would have watched the match in the delightful company of other sports enthusiasts.
He rather ended up at the theatre of the Ultima Platz Hospital in Zuarungu, capital of Ghana’s Bolgatanga East District.
Eyewitnesses say nurses almost pulled back from him, out of horror, when they first spotted him heavily drenched in blood with a broken, dangling arm as he was being stretchered into the hospital at an emergency speed.
About twenty-four hours later, he was ambulanced from that private facility to the state-owned Tamale Teaching Hospital (TTH), situated miles away in the Northern Region. And in May, the TTH doctors amputated the affected arm.
“I was asked to go and do maintenance. That day, there wasn’t anyone around there. When I got there, the rolling belt (a mining conveyor belt) was having a fault. There were a lot of stones inside the belt. I was trying to remove the stones inside the belt. I was aware that when it happens like that, you have to wash it (the belt) with water. But there wasn’t water around.
“The water that was underground there, I was managing with that water to wash the belt. Later, I turned to pick something. When I turned and was trying to move to the other side, I don’t know what happened, my hand got inside the belt. I was lying there. I was there [for] almost thirty minutes,” Godfred told Media Without Borders on Thursday with a deep tone of sorrow.
He said he remained in a pool of blood, yelling without help, until some surveyors and samplers saw him.
Those who chanced upon him drew the attention of some mechanics who extricated him by cutting parts of the gathering arm— a tractor-like machine used for loading loose stones or gold ore— and sent him to hospital.
Treated, discharged but abandoned
Godfred’s relations say the management of the Chinese company has not bothered to pay a visit to its injured employee since he returned to his Zuarungu home from TTH in June.
They told Media Without Borders that Godfred’s June salary had not been paid as of Thursday, 13 July 2023.
“The management of the company only took care of the hospital bills when he was taken to Ultima Platz Hospital and the Tamale Teaching Hospital. Then, one of the workers gave us Gh¢400 (35 United States dollars). They call him a translator over there. We learnt the money was given to him by the company to be given to us.
“All other expenses— the transportation fares, the feeding costs and the everyday dressing bills—we are bearing them on our own. And since we came back from Tamale, they (the company) have not visited him to see how he is doing. We are not happy,” said Godfred’s brother-in-law, Ezekiel Wudaan.
A brother to the injured worker, Peter, said: “This incident has brought much grief to the entire family. He (Godfred) is being treated unfairly. Imagine the pain of losing a hand that feeds you at a young age of 24.”
Godfred’s relations are asking for compensation from the company, some of them also demanding he should either be reassigned at the company or given a scholarship to study a programme of his choice.
Some of his friends have hinted at plans to stage a strong social media campaign aimed at compelling his Chinese employers to secure at least an artificial replacement for the lost arm. The impending campaign is expected to go with the hashtagged catchphrase: “Bring Back Godfred’s Arm“.
Last Monday, 10 July 2023, an employee, Victor Abisiyine Ayine, went missing inside the Chinese company’s yard.
Victor’s body was pulled out of a pool of wastewater the following day after his brother, Jonathan, who together with other family members had endured a sleepless night because Victor did not return home the previous day, appeared at the company’s site without prior notice in search of him.
The company’s Public Relations Officer, Ebenezer Bognaab, did not respond when Media Without Borders contacted him for the company’s comments on Victor’s work-related death.
Again, efforts made to reach the PRO on Friday for the company’s comments on the accident involving Godfred and the post-amputation concerns raised by his relations yielded no results.
Source: Edward Adeti/Media Without Borders/mwbonline.org