Old Fadama demolition : Shoddy solution to national crisis?

"We have entered in there and we live in group shelters. If he comes back to demolish we will sleep outside. We can't go anywhere so we will sleep outside."


"I went to Tamale after the demolition, but I decided to come back. The place is quiet but we are managing small small."

The words of Rasheed Ibrahim, who sits about 100 meters away from the Korle lagoon repairing broken cell phones.

He is back at the very spot he lost some personal items and his wooden house to the demolition exercise by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, AMA.

"My house was here they spoil am. I get my shop plus my room that time they come, so now if I come here small, I go find somewhere and sleep. He said.

Rasheed is one of the many Old Fadama residents who are yet to come to terms with a major demolition exercise along the Korle Lagoon, days after the June 03 disaster which killed over a hundred people.

After the disaster, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, AMA had to act to avert another disaster, so they went around pulling down structures in and along water ways.

Fuel stations operating without permits were not spared-though some have said the clamp down on fuel stations without permit was just a kneejerk reaction from government.

But this wasn't executed without fierce opposition. Some youth of Old Fadama for instance attacked the police who were supervising the demolition. Some also massed up at the State House to protest.

However the Accra metropolitan Chief executive Alfred Oko Vanderpuye was determined to roll out this exercise no matter the political cost, and so, hundreds of people at Old Fadama and around the  Odaw river were displaced without any alternative settlement arrangement.

Two months after the exercise, a visit to Old Fadama showed some residents have complied with the AMA's directive not to come near the lagoon but there those who have come back to their spots to do business.

The lagoon now looks wide after the dredging exercise. Mountains of filth mixed with sand still sit along the lagoon, a clear case of a shoddy work done, and a perfect place of convenience for children and even the elderly. But this is where Sharifa and three other ladies sell. Like Rasheed they come here to sell during the day and find a place to lay their heads at night.

"They have widened the lagoon but if they have left the sand by it then there is no point in the exercise they did," Sharifa said, while frying what looked like very spicy beef, "toilet and rubbish everywhere. The situation has been worsened. There was no robbery here but after the exercise people rob in broad day light"

The police in media publications have attributed the incessant robbery attacks in places such as Amanfrom on the displacement of some of these slum dwellers.

If what the police have said is anything to go by, the AMA created another social problem whiles trying to solve one.

More houses have been marked for demolition. Residents here know the assembly will be back in a couple of months to breakdown more structures, but they have nowhere to go. So they wait to see if the AMA will carry out the threat.

"Even Liberians who are not Ghanaians have a place to stay they have a camp. We are Ghanaians who have come from the Northern region where do they want us to go. Should we engage in armed robbery of prostitution?" Shairfa asked shaking with anger.

"Are they coming back here?" seventy five year old Jameela asked sitting by one of the about five mosques along the lagoon which were left untouched." What they did was not enough for them?  Where will we go?"

Many have criticized the action by the AMA saying it is not the best approach to dealing with urban slum dwellers.

The example of how Singapore managed to develop a long term plan to rebuild the country and "re-house everybody" has been cited, but the AMA chief executive is convinced that their quick fix approach is the best.

The Accra Mayor Alfred Oko Vanderpuye in a recent interview on Starr Fm said his only regret when he leaves office will be his inability to completely dredge the Korle Lagoon. He touted the success of the demolition exercise in Old Fadama saying most of the affected have gone back to their homes in the Northern Region.

But the reality is the opposite. Many of those affected after the AMA's solution is still lurking around, they are now sharing shelters with friends and family in the slum.

"We have entered in there and we live in group shelters. If he comes back to demolish we will sleep outside. We can't go anywhere so we will sleep outside." Azumah another lady braiding a customer's hair by the lagoon said.

It is just a matter of time for the displaced people to come back and rebuild. Let the same time be the best judge of Alfred Oko Vanderpuye's solution to the floods and filth in the capital.


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