The Mayor of Accra, Alfred Oko Vanderpuije has conceded that it was an emotionally difficult decision for him when he authorized city officials to move in with bulldozers and flatten houses at the Old Fadama.
Thousands of residents in the capital’s biggest slum were rendered homeless when their houses were demolished on June 20 to pave way for the Korle Lagoon Ecological Restoration Project. Some have condemned the exercise saying it was a knee jerk reaction to the June 3 deadly flood in which 152 lost their lives.
But the Accra Metropolitan Authority’s boss told Joy News though it was a difficult task for him, the idea behind his actions was noble.
By nature it is a challenge for many people to easily embrace change, Mr. Oko Vanderpuije indicated.
“The day my mother gave birth to me I wasn’t happy because I was comfortable in my mother’s stomach but when nature had to force me out I was kicking, little did I know that I was coming to a world,” he related.
“So in life it is like that,” Oko Vanderpuije stated, “the beginning of things are not easy”.
“Look, do you think the decision to come here and demolition people’s homes was an easy one? It wasn’t an easy one, but I have to make that decision and take full responsibility for it because you know what, we were going to affect people’s life. But you have to do what you have to do when the time comes.”
He claims that the affected residents who are being resettled in Adjen Kotoku and Amasaman now appreciate what the city authority is doing and are cooperating with them. Others, he said, have been given allowance to return to their hometown mostly in the northern region of Ghana.
Though the relocation of slum dwellers is facing some resistance from some land owners and authorities such as the CSIR, Oko Vanderpuije insisted plans to resettle displaced Old Fadama residents would not be abandoned.
The Old Fadama community, popularly called Sodom and Gomorrah came into being in the early 90s following bloody clashes between the Kokomba and Nanumba ethnic groups in the Northern Region which left thousands dead.
A huge number of the Northerners fearful for their lives, fled down south and made the Old Fadama their new home. They have lived in the area for some two decades, have inter-married, given birth and multiplied.
The settlers have turned the area into a slum and have since been living in squalor.
The place is also believed to be a den for criminals even though there are some genuine hardworking residents over there.
Past and present governments have attempted to demolish the slum but have been cowed by political pressures and the fear of losing elections.