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General News of Friday, 12 February 2021


It is not a sound argument – Col. Aboagye shoots down calls for relocation of Burma Camp to Saglemi

Col. Festus Boahen Aboagye (Rtd) Col. Festus Boahen Aboagye (Rtd)

A retired Colonel of the Ghana Armed forces, Col. Festus Boahen Aboagye (Rtd) has said that arguments being used to back calls for the relocation of Burma camp and other military installations from the center of Accra are not sound.

Member of Parliament for Bawku Central, Mahama Ayariga during the vetting of the Minister-designate for Defense, Dominic Nitiwul on Thursday, February 11, 2021, inquired from the nominee whether government would be willing to consider relocating Military Barracks in the heart of the capital city and whether the government would also want to convert the Seglemi Housing Project into a military barrack.

According to the MP, such installations currently occupy places in a congested capital city which are gradually joining up with civilian communities.

The Minister-nominee in response welcomed the proposal and described it as an interesting one which requires a national conversation; whiles admitting that inadequate accommodation facilities for the military have been a great challenge and of great concern to the current government.

Reacting to the MPs call, however, Colonel Festus Aboagye in an interview with GhanaWeb said there is an inherent misconstrued idea by the MP which seems to suggest that the military presence at Burma Camp is a threat to civilians.

“That is not a sound argument at all. Inherent in that statement is the idea that the presence of the military at Burma Camp is demarcated by what we call the Giffard road that runs from 37 all the way to T-Junction on the Labadi Beach Hotel bordered by the other side of Trade Fair. Not exactly Trade Fair, but you’ll want to suggest that the location of Burma Camp is a threat to civilians. The question is, what is that threat?” he questioned.

According to Colonel Aboagye, the parts of the military barracks that are in any form closer to civilian life are facilities such as residence, offices, schools, and hospitals which do not pose any risk to people around it.

“The ammunitions that you have in Burma Camp is small arms ammunition and remember I said that soldiers live closer to the ammunition than any civilian. Because the threat of the ammunition, the lethality of it has been graded so the armories are actually stored closer to the barracks but the magazines where the ammunitions is stored, are stored in specially constructed buildings at distances that if any explosion occurs will not endanger the lives of soldiers and their families,” he indicated.

Colonel Aboagye again avers it remains the possibility that civilians, even if the military is moved to a more secluded location will still be followed by civilians who would want to be close enough to engage in business and other private activities.

“Move the military to Saglemi, move anybody from Burma Camp to Bondasi, communities will go there. Military installations have served as community expansions. Civilians want to go towards the barracks because the military needs good and services.

"They need to buy certain things that are not in the barracks. So markets will spring up very easily. People will come and be selling all manner of things, with time it becomes a town. It is not the military that has moved, it is civilian communities who will move towards the military,” he stated.

He adds that there exist economic and national security threats which will result from the relocation of the military bases from their current locations in the capital city.

“The government can say that it is going to remove Burma Camp from there but it is going to have national security implications. Not necessarily about Burma Camp not being able to come and defend Accra but when you undermine the wellbeing and welfare of soldiers it has national security implications. And then of course capital cities are what we call centers of gravities of a nation. When you take away Accra Ghana is gone. The closer the military is to the city the easier it will be for them to defend the city,” he said.

Colonel Aboagye said the only solution that needs to be applied beside protection mapped military lands and installations is to enforce safety zones around such as ammunition storages that may pose threats any forms of threat.