Meridien Hotel, one of the hotels under the defunct State Hotels Corporation, and once the pride of the city of Tema, is now a death trap and den for hardened criminals.
The dilapidated hotel is also being used as a refuse dump and place of convenience by miscreants, emitting an unbearable foul smell and thus becoming a no-go area for decent people, including municipal authorities.
A visit to the place by the Daily Graphic last Monday revealed the deplorable state of the Meridian Hotel and the danger it poses to people who reside or work in the area.
The area surrounding the edifice is strewn with human excreta while the basement of the hotel is filled with refuse which appears to have been dumped there more than a decade ago.
Any visitor to the area will either have to cover his or her nose because of the foul air. The structure itself does not have the ability to hold together much longer as the concrete walls are noticeably weak.
The beams and columns of the building are weak and could collapse anytime soon. A group of young men, some smoking substances suspected to be Indian hemp and cigarettes, were seen in the structure during the visit.
The area where the hotel is located, known as the Meridian Enclave, was demarcated as a commercial hub by the Tema Development Corporation (TDC) at the time when the hotel was already situated there.
The enclave has banks and other financial institutions, eateries, shops, and supermarkets, among other offices.
TDC not responsible
The Protocol and Administrative Officer of the TDC, Mr. Ian Tabalor Okwei, told the Daily Graphic that the TDC was not responsible for the building and the sanitation in the area.
"Per the mandate establishing the TDC, we plan and develop areas for allocation.
Upon acquisition, the management of the land and its related activities become the responsibility of the MMDCEs located within that specific jurisdiction," he said.
He disclosed that the building, situated on 3.7 acres, was divested to Octoglow Ghana Ltd by the Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC) but could not state why it had not been developed.
The Tema Metropolitan Assembly (TMA) acknowledged the fact that it was responsible for keeping the area clean and ejecting the hardened criminals who had inhabited the building and pledged to take action on the matter soon.
The Tema East Sub Metro Council Coordinator, Mr. Joseph Ashietey, told the Daily Graphic that the assembly was concerned about the current state of the edifice and added that steps would be taken to sanitise the area.
The profile of Octoglow Ghana Ltd on the Internet reveals that it is a company that is situated at the Free Zones Area in Tema and engaged in wholesale trade.
A representative of the company, Claudia Otoo, declined to comment when the Daily Graphic sought to ascertain whether the organisation had actually acquired the building and, if so, what it intended to use it for.
In the late 1960s and 1970s, people took pride in associating themselves with activities at the Meridian Hotel and other state hotels such as the Continental and Star hotels in Accra, the Atlantic in Takoradi and City Hotel in Kumasi.
Nii Tei Ashietey, the founder of Wulomei, a Ga cultural troupe, composed a song in the 1970s in which the name of the Meridian Hotel was mentioned, signifying the prestigious status of the facility at the time.
Due to years of mismanagement, however, all these hotels have collapsed.