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Opinions of Sunday, 23 October 2011

Columnist: Kwarkye, Nana Abena Afriyie

The beginning of a slum

*Written by: Nana Abena Afriyie Kwarkye*

I happen to ply the motorway two times in a day. I work in Tema, the industrial city of Ghana. Every morning and evening I sit comfortably in a commercial bus while the driver of the bus takes me to and fro work. At least I have been doing this for a little over a year.

If I'm not mistaken, about 4 months back I noticed something that caught my attention. Out of nowhere, I noticed the sprouting up of wooden structures along the motorway. When one is moving towards Tema from Accra, it’s about five minutes drive away from the toll booth. Just about 100 meters from a company called Sidalco and about 200 meters away from the Trasaco Valley when driving out of Tema.

I could actually count 20 of such wooden structures which provide shelter for some Ghanaians. These structures serve as homes for these ‘house owners.’ The argument most people raise is that, man has to survive, I don't dispute that fact. My point is the sprouting of yet another slum in the country.

It's shocking to learn that, every time I count the 'houses' there, the number increases. That only means that in the next 5 months the number of structures there can double or even triple if that is not an exaggeration.

Slowly, that marks the beginning of another slum in the capital. Since the city Rome was not erected in a day, so will the development of another slum take some time? Slowly but surely, it will come to pass if the situation is not brought under control immediately.

My fear is that, when these people have lived there for years, they tend to demand for compensation from government when they are asked to vacate the place. Government can save itself the stress of having to deal with these squatters’ years later if measures are put in place now to check this phenomenon.

The other issue is with the absence of street lights on the motorway. Some squatters can take advantage to rob innocent Ghanaians who ply the same route. It cannot be ruled out since it's an open secret as to the attacks that go on especially at night on the motorway.

I have not gotten the opportunity to confirm if those structures have electricity supply. If the answer is yes, then there is the need to investigate and ascertain if the connection was done legally or otherwise. It is relevant to investigate if they have meters that actually bill them for their electricity consumption. That is another twist to the issue.

The time to act is now. I humbly call on authorities mandated by the states to take charge of this issue before it gets out of hand. A stitch in time saves nine.