Feature Article of Saturday, 28 January 2012
Columnist: Twumasi, Patrick
Recently the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) has embarked upon demolition of some
structures which were wrongly sited within the metropolis. It has brought about the
threshold of public up roar. Varied questions have been asked to some seeming
entities with the hope of an answer. But alas! None is forth coming.
The first in the series of flattening illegal structures in 2012 took place at
Weija, a suburb of Accra. Arguably, Weija remains the source of pipe borne water for
the metropolis. Yes, the dam accommodating the millions of gallons of water is
exposed to constant pollution by encroachers around the buffer zone. This has
resulted in the heighten levels of chemicals used to treat the water from the dam.
Many a citizen has complained and compared the quality of pipe water from Weija with
that of Akosombo. The low quality of water from the Weija dam has invariably
informed the choice of pipe lines that many domestic homes do connect. Forthrightly,
this came about due to the illegal structures which have sprung up in the reserved
area. The filth generated within the safeguard territory trickles in to the water
Again, the rail crossing at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle was the next to receive the
crack of the whip of the AMA. It is precarious to reside by the rail lines which can
be fatal in the case of any derailment. According to the Mayor of Accra, Mr. Alfred
Vanderpuije this was in the zest of the public and country. Well done Sir.
It is always prudent to live a preventive life rather than a remedial one. There are
planned and unplanned situations; hence prevention remains the best option of most
civilised human communities. The various locations mentioned above were not built in
a day. Sir, you will agree with me but, might not necessarily be on my side that,
there have been some lapses on the part of the AMA, whether under your
administration or the previous, which your attention should be drawn to receive keen
supervision. The Accra Metropolitan Assembly has a Task Force who are remunerated
monthly with the tax payers’ money. Besides, the rat race with traders on pavements
within the metropolis, what else is their duty? Could they not take to constant
supervision at various no go area to prevent structures from springing up?
Nonetheless, the metro boss and his cohort always abhor with their unpopular
remedial outburst at varied locations of the capital. These Task Forces has
arrogated themselves to the dishonourable irresponsibility of collecting money from
the hard pressed traders on the pavements. It is of uttermost importance to assign
to these seem to be working Task Forces, under whose guise mayhem thrives, the onus
to patrol these reserved areas to protect them from encroachments. In other words to
practice the wait and see character pays none, but tears. What is the preferred,
wait till the fire starts or work to prevent it? The apt is the latter.
Currently the Director-General of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, Prof. Edward
Akaho is embroidered with the law for demolishing structures within the buffer zone
around the commission’s facility, at Kwabenya in Accra. This was reported in the
Daily Graphic of Tuesday, 24th January, 2012, number, 18749. The effects of an
accident of the magnitude of an atomic facility could be recalled of the Russian
nuclear accident some years ago. Every civilised human community thrives on
preventive measures. It would be embarrassing should the country act like the
proverbial bird on a fence whistling carelessly of being hunted till the stone blow
that will kill it is dealt to it. Ghana needs to move to avert any untimely
disaster. This is what has landed the Professor and 36 security men of the
Commission in the grips of the Ghana Police. Who offered the lands so close to the
facility for property development? One will be amazed to realise that there are
domestic homes which share common wall with a facility such as an atomic reactor.
What are we waiting for? Is it, had I known, which is the philosophy of the
In spite of the structures sited wrongly and illegally, questions should be put to
the owners of these lands as to how they were acquired. The Lands Commission should
equally be held corporal for land title issuance and registration. In the same vein,
those who sat aloof till buildings and properties running into millions of Ghana
Cedis to be destroyed, without resisting developers, should also be charged. This
action taken will zip deep in to the immediate and remote future to serve as a
deterrent. Despite the brute force used to reclaim these sensitive lands, the
clearing of debris is an added cost in this exercise. Hence, who pays, for the
reason that, if left till the rains come, it would either promote the festering of
mosquitoes or bring about flooding.
Likewise the situation prevailing at Sodom and Gomorra, where the city authorities
looked on without any preventive sense of duty up until the estuary was occupied by
squatters. On several instances, attempts have been made to evict the squatters, but
have always struck a blank wall. How long are we going to perpetuate this culture of
irresponsibility towards serious life threatening conditions? These scenes are
fairly spread throughout the country as if people at positions of trust to execute
such duties are living dead.
The country will do herself a lot of good should we come to appreciate that the best
way for us to live and not just to survive is through pro-activeness. To champion
African excellence demands on the country to acquire the character of the wisdom of
hind sight, thus future piercing. The human rights activist should be up in arms
with the law on human settlement to challenge these authorities for negligence of
duty, which culminate in the loss of properties and businesses of, would-be house
owners and businessmen and women. The responsiveness of the state institutions
should equally be questioned with some level of reprimand. For the reason that,
these servants of the state who draw their salaries and emoluments from the
consolidated fund, which is a pool of the tax payers’ money, cannot be pardoned to
continue with such laxity.
Nevertheless, the citizens are also expected to make detailed enquiries about lands
before acquiring it for development. When authorities issue a note of caution
citizens are again, supposed to adhere and refrain from over ruling such restrains
to help prevent later upheavals. Downrightly, some Ghanaians in their quest to
acquire property end up purchasing sites or lands without conducting due diligence
which consequently fits your guess. Because, the very destroyers of our society are
the very people that society has educated and cared for.
Human Rights Advocates should demand from the authorities before or after
demolitions those within the Town and Country Planning Department who gave the go
ahead for construction to commence and the punitive measures which will be meted out
to workers below excellence. This should be the battle instead of the call for human
face to be tailored to force evictions. The flag is not meant to inspire Activist to
violently interfere with anything in the by-laws of the Town and Country Planning
that must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties and occupancy
of our lands.
A Great philosopher has said that only between two and six per cent of the
individuals in any given society work to INDUCE CHANGE and to transform the lives
of the people. These are the people who see beyond the now and routine way of
doing things. Their focus is societal transformation. Let as many as in our
present society of Ghana associate themselves to the statement above.
In the case where citizens are unperturbed the city authorities should pick a cue
from Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Estrada’s belief that, if pupils don’t learn the way we teach,
perhaps we should teach the way they learn.
Rolling the mat on this thorny issue let Huge White educate all concerned and has
bone of contention with the admonition that, “Mistakes are lessons of wisdom. The
past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power.
Patrick Twumasi (0209045931)