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Monday, September 14, 2009

Minister And Mayor At War

A silent war appears to be raging over Accra’s most notorious slum; Sodom and Gomorrah, as opposing signals are being sent to Ghanaians over the fate of the location by officialdom.

Even before the bulldozers move in, the Deputy Minister of Information, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has suggested that the slum would remain untouched, in opposition to the position of the Mayor of Accra, Alfred Vanderpuije. Kwesi Pratt Jnr. was reported to have condemned the planned movement when he said that the decision by the Mayor to demolish the slum was an aberration, saying that he was out of tune with reality.

Kwesi questioned the rationale behind the appointment of Mr. Vanderpuije as Accra Mayor, pointing out that whoever appointed him had done a great disservice to Ghana. “Where is this man coming from? Who appointed him as Mayor,” Mr. Pratt yelled on Vibe FM on Thursday night.

Okudzeto Ablakwa had also blasted the Accra Mayor for his decision to evict the squatters at a news conference, saying that Mr. Vanderpuije was over enthusiastic with his mandate as metropolitan chief executive. As if they are operating for different governments, Okudzeto charges: “Government takes exception to attempts to criminalise poverty and the people of Sodom and Gomorrah since crime can be found in political parties, churches, mosques and society in general”.

He said the people of Sodom and Gomorrah are not outcasts that should be chased out. “The government cannot get up and bulldoze the slum down just because they are lesser Ghanaians,” he added. Some of the slum dwellers have reportedly said that ex-President Jerry John Rawlings is on their side as he assured them that they are not going anywhere.

Recently, government stated that it does not oppose the demolition of the location, provided such an exercise would be undertaken with a human face. This presupposes that government might drag its feet on the matter. The Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), through Mayor Vanderpuije, has promised that the demolition would definitely come one with no compensation.
Mr. Vanderpuije made the promise during an Assembly meeting which he enumerated a number of factors why the slum must go. He expressed concern about the health and sanitation of the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, with the issue of the H1N1 influenza (swine flu) and Cholera at hand, the committee on health and sanitation at the meeting indicated that it will be in the interest of the inhabitants if the slum was demolished.

“€5,000 is used for the Korle Lagoon on a daily bases in order to restore it but the refuse generated by the inhabitants of the place make the lagoon project look impossible,” he added. He also stressed that most of the illegal structures are being transformed into permanent structures, indicating that the squatters are not ready to move. The Mayor revealed that research has proven that the history of the area makes it uninhabitable. He also noted that the population there has quadrupled, giving rise to additional slum areas around the place such as Abuja and Babylon.

The committee on finances added that a lot of money from the AMA had been sunk into the area, “we are prepared to provide free transportation for the people if they decide to leave the area and return home.”

The AMA boss expressed concern about the rumor going around that he said all the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah are criminals. “I have never said they are all criminals but rather some of them are the criminals.” The Assembly also saw the endorsement of a new computerized revenue collection system called ePayment Project which will increase the quantum of revenue for AMA. The ePayment Project will ensure that revenue collected will go directly into AMA’s account.

Source: Daily Guide

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