THOUSANDS of people have been displaced at Sodom and Gomorrah, a slum community in Accra, following a demolition exercise in the area at the weekend.
The exercise, carried out by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) Task Force, with assistance from the police and the military, has rendered many households homeless.
When The Ghanaian Times visited the area again yesterday afternoon, after the exercise, a number of people were seen still picking their belongings from the rubble.
Some women, many of them carrying babies, had formed a queue with their buckets to fetch water from a broken pipe.
Scrap dealers in the area took advantage of the situation to search through the debris for metals and other items theyconsidered valuable.
The affected persons were visibly angry and troubled and Security personnel were around and the alert to ensure law and order.
One of those affected, Abubakar Usman, said his family and other affected households spent Saturday night in a Mosque after their building was pulled down.
He said although they were told that structures sited 100 metres away from the Korle Lagoon were to be demolished, the assembly went beyond that and demolished structures that had not been earmarked for demolition.
When asked whether the AMA had made any arrangement to relocate them, he said although the assembly pledged to provide them with decent accommodation at Amasaman, that had not materialised.
Another resident, Zainab Iddrisu, a petty trader and mother of a set of two-year-old twins, said she lost everything to the demolition, and added that she had no money for transport back to Tamale in the Northern Region, where she came from.
According to her, information on the demolition was not properly communicated to the residents in the area, and appealed to the government and other institutions to assist them.
The Metropolitan Chief Executive, Alfred Okoe Vanderpuije, who supervised the exercise, told the Ghanaian Times in a telephone interview, that it was necessary for the AMA to carry out the exercise in order to put the lives of the people there and others out of looming danger.
He explained that the squatters had filled the Korle Lagoon with sawdust and sand, and erected wooden and concrete structures on the heap where they lived.
Mr. Vanderpuije said the accumulated dust and sawdust had blocked the lagoon from flowing, and attributed the perennial water flooding during rainy seasons, especially the recent June 3 flood disaster, partly to the structures.
He said it was unsafe for the people to be living there, and added that their continuous stay in the area could cause another flood disaster if it rained.
“We are making efforts to desilt the Odaw river to ensure that the June 3 event does not re-occur,” he said, and stressed that the exercise would continue this Thursday.
Mr. Vanderpuije noted that the AMA was not bringing down the entire Sodom and Gomorrah community, but was only targeting structures which had blocked the water channel of the Korle Lagoon.
“We are not demolition the entire community. Our focus now is on those who have filled the lagoon with sawdust and sand and erected structures. Those on the land, we will leave for now,” he said.
Contrary to claims by the squatters that they had no knowledge of the demolition exercise, Mr. Vanderpuije said the AMA had, for the past three years, been advising the people to vacate the area.
He said about two months ago, officials of the assembly went with vans to the area to announce to the residents there that all the structures on the pile of sawdust and sand would be demolished.
By Yaw Kyei and Malik Sullemana