Feature Article of Thursday, 21 February 2013
Columnist: Koranteng, Adu
Journalist’s Account of 21st Century Shanty community
By Adu Koranteng New Crusading Guide
Accra, capital city of Ghana is seen by people across the world as one of the safest and beautiful cities in West Africa. The economy of Ghana over the last ten years in growing significantly with the discoveries of oil and gold in many parts of the country. The major discovery made was in 2007 at the Jubilee oil field months after engineers and geologists had worked assiduously in a bid to put Ghana on the map of oil countries.
One significant thing about Ghana is a strange community found in the heart of Accra, the capital city called Sodom and Gomorrah.
This is a community found in Ghana in our 21st century world of civilization. It is highly significant for its wealth of filth, garbage, and all the negative things that one can think off in any rotten society in the world.
Seven hours stay and survey of Sodom and Gomorrah in the heart of Accra gave me a clear picture of the area as a hyper town on the verge of destruction.
This reporter describes the place as a town because of it’s over populated nature. People living there are more than 50,000 and 90% of them are migrants from the three northern regions of Ghana who are in Accra to seek greener pastures. The entire land surface of Sodom and Gomorrah is covered with wood structures, popularly called Kiosks, or stores, which serve as shelter for the people. The structures have been built closely to each other and you hardly see spaces in between. The structures are from single room to chamber and hall as well single storey wood structures which serve the poor and the low income earners as well as the wealthy people living in the town.
The Bible in the days of Abraham and Lot talked about a city called Sodom and Gomorrah where Lot and his family had a short stay to explore its wealthy natural resources and were later moved by God to enable him destroy the two cities when their inhabitants had destroyed the entire moral and religious as well as atmospheric fabric protecting these two towns.
God at the time realized the since man in these towns had sunk so deep into sin and nothing could be done to rescue him, he decided to destroy the entire land since nothing could be done to rescue them again.
The difference between the ancient Sodom and Gomorrah and the modern day Sodom and Gomorrah in Accra, Ghana after reading from the Bible and paying a seven hour working visit to the area in Accra is the filth and garbage that had surrounded it. The Bible talks about the beauty ,serenity and the wealth of ancient Sodom and Gomorrah which distinguishes present day filthy and garbage filled Sodom and Gomorrah
Ancient Sodom and Gomorrah was a beautiful and neat town with no dent of filth whereas modern day Sodom and Gomorrah in Accra, Ghana boasts of filth. Apart from this everything thought of Ancient Sodom is found here and over.
Modern day Sodom and Gomorrah is a small island found between two lagoons (Korle lagoon) now turned gutters. It is opposite the famous Agbogboloshie and Makola number two markets, which attract thousands of people on daily basis.
Part of the large stretch of Sodom and Gomorrah land operates as a market and lorry station for Yam sellers, Plantain sellers, and onion importers from Burkina Faso among others. It also serves as a lorry station for people travelling to the three northern regions of Ghana and other parts of the country.
A portion of the town also serves as open abattoir and warehouse electronic waste dealers. There is no reliable clinic in there and the available ones operate illegally making fortunes through performing abortions illegal surgeries and sale of counterfeit drugs to customers.
Teenage pregnancy is the order of the day. Girls between the ages of 12 and 15 years are seen with their babies roaming on the dusty and garbage filled streets of Sodom and Gomorrah and selling anything from “ice pure water to head porting”, “Kaya Yoo” as it is popularly called.
The town also serves as den for armed robbers, contract killers, among other nefarious actors. Adultery, fornication, prostitution gay acts as well as child prostitution child trafficking and child labour is the order of the day and night in modern day Sodom and Gomorrah. Since there is no single police station in this huge populated area, the people themselves have legalized crime. Who dare arrest the rapist in Sodom and Gomorrah? It is like the war of the Jungle, the fittest survives. The strongest among them takes advantage of the week. Dealers who comb the entire city for scrapes, that’s damaged computers and electric hardware and assembly them there to retrieve the aluminum elements in them for smelting and export.
Besides, people use a portion of the community as slaughter house where domestic animals like goats, sheep, and even dogs are slaughtered and dressed to be sold to people in the city for use as Khebabs and at chop bars or restaurants for consumption.
In addition to all these, the massive filth in the area has hardened the mosquitoes and made them grow in form and stature. They are seen hovering around and along the korle gutters in high quantities during the day and invade the entire area in the night relying on human blood for food and survival. Part of the lagoon is covered with garbage which is grazed by cattle and goats during the day. Other people are seen during the day easing them into the so called lagoon filled garbage.
Close to the settlement are the Korle-bu Teaching hospital and the Morgue which cater for more than 80 percent of health related issues in the capital Accra. These facilities have connected their liquid pipe lines to the lake turned gutter and release all liquid waste into it through to the sea.
On the other side of the Sodom and Gomorrah settlement is the lavender hill where all the human feacal waste in Accra is dumped into the sea. This makes the place nasty and stenchy. The Accra Metropolitan Assembly, AMA has officially stated that it does not recognize Sodom and Gomorrah as a residential settlement and has plans to demolish the place. This plan was made more than 10 years ago but its implementation has stalled due to lack of political will. This is because the people are eligible political voters. The have the right to make political decisions every four years to elect a president and members of parliaments. Any political party in office that tries to deal with them will lose their votes and perhaps, the parliamentary seat in the area. Though poor, the people living here are many though poor, so which political party in love of power and all its riches would want to threaten this unofficial community.
Due to the various activities done here including burning of plastic electronic components and slaughtered animals with car tyres, the place is always covered with smoke. The smoke pollutes the entire community and cause harm to the health of the people living or trading there.
The Public Relations Officer of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, Nuumo, Blafo, also a fetish priests in an interview with this reporter expressed awe at the rate of nefarious activities going on there. “Personally I don’t think that this community should exist. I am from the GA tribe in Accra and the Lagoon is our Heritage. We worship it and as you can see they people there have destroyed its beauty. There is no marine life there now because the lagoon has been totally polluted. The AMA has a long term plan of turning the lagoon and that portion of land you term as Sodom and Gomorrah into a tourist site. As part of the plan, there will be desilting and dredging of the lagoon and the settlers will be gradually dispersed and trading activities relocated from the place to Adjin Kotoku, an outskirt of Accra. We have held series of meetings with the community leaders and they have agreed to move a hundred metres from the banks of the lagoon to make way for the free flow of the lagoon. So I think gradually we are making progress and would soon transform the area”.
Peter Anyama, 18 year old native of Bongo near Bolga in the Upper east region lives here at Sodom and Gomorrah. He has lived here for two years now. Born in 1995 in Bongo in the Upper East Region, peter relocated here at the age of 16 years to seek greener pastures. “I have been engaging in scraps over the last two years but this job has not been lucrative enough to keep me going. I live in one of the kiosks here. My room is next to this one,” he pointed his hand to a green and yellow four by four kiosk.
“The whole area is full of mosquitoes, Human and animal wastes. Saw dusts have been sprinkled all over here. You can see the heap of garbage here and the many cattle that are grazing on here. Because the have filled the lagoon with garbage’s, the entire place is flooded when there is even a mild rainfall. There is a high crime rate here due to the absence of a Police station. As for issues like rape sexual harassments, abortions they are common here but who do you repot to. Pre matured babies are released into the lagoon every now and then and who cares. In fact, the flies here are different from the ordinary flies that we see in town. These ones are bigger and stronger than the normal ones and even try to enter your nose if you don’t take care. In fact I have regretted coming to live in this area and I feel like going back to my hometown. However, I don’t have money now and immediately I get financial assistance I will be on my way back home. I can’t live here anymore, peter stated.
The town is bereft of drainage systems. Drains flow from the high lands through the low lands in all sections of the lagoon which have been filled with saw dust aimed at making the place accessible but during dry season the place becomes dusty as a result and totally muddy during raining seasons.
Prostitution at Sodom and Gomorrah is common where young girls between 15 and 17 years have joined elderly women in these old age profession. they have totally bleached their skins and are seen either sitting in front of their rooms or hovering around in search of customers with the usual whispering see, see see’ in search of clients during the day and in the night.
. All the toilet facilities there have been channeled into the lagoon which flows slowly into the sea. The situation has made the colour of the lake dark and resulted in the elimination of all fishes in the lake.
The people living here claim they have the right to vote and during elections political parties come to convince them to vote for them so any political party in government that attempts to demolish the area would automatically lose their votes.
Hadisah zainab a native of Damongo in the northern region and a resident of Sodom and Gomorrah and single mother of two in an interview with this reporter stated that she came to Accra to seek greener pastures to take care of her children and parents up north. “Since this is the only community where one can get cheap accommodation, I decided to locate here and do my business. I began as a porter when I came here four years ago. I have managed to rise through it to become a chop bar operator in here. It’s not been easy staying here with all these radicals, miscreants, prostitutes and filth. But what can we do its pathetic living with all sorts of human being. We however pray that a miracle happens to deliver us from this place, she noted.