Some of the victims affected by the demolition exercise organised by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), have taken refuge in a transformer station at Kokomlemle, belonging to the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG).
The transformer station is situated at Kokomlemle West near the Methodist Church, Bethel Society, and closer to the Adehyeman Savings and Loans Company, few meters away from Joy FM.
Though ECG had fenced the place with a wall and security mesh, the squatters have managed to open and parked their belongings including firewood there.
The Ghanaian Times investigations revealed that apart from sleeping, washing and bathing at the place, the occupants also cooked there, using the firewood despite the risk involved.
Another worrying aspect was that though three metallic gates leading to the transformer have been locked with padlocks, the occupants have managed to open one of the gates and using the place as their wardrobe to hang and keep their clothes.
A tour of the place revealed lots of personal belongings including clothes, mats, pillows, mirror, ladies wear including hairpieces (wigs) cosmetics, pomade, comb among others.
Also discovered were exposed underground live cables possibly due to erosion and the constant sweeping of the place, by the occupants.
Other findings were that the squatters mainly females, used the place, both inside the transformer and the rear as brothels for night services ‘commercial sex’. A closer observation at the back of the transformer, revealed lots of mats and carton boxes cut in the form of students mattress spread all over for commercial sex.
One of the ladies who gave her name only as Alima, claimed she, together with other colleagues, decided to stay there temporarily as they looked for a permanent place to move.
Isha Ibrahim, a trader told this reporter in an interview that she tried several times to evict the occupants, mainly ice (pure) water sellers but to no avail.
According to her, she warned them of the dangers associated with their lodging there but they did not listen to her advice noting that she even locked the place with padlocks a several times but the locks were broken by the squatters to enable them to get access to the place.
“They sleep here, wake up early in the morning to ply their trade and get back to the place in the evenings,” she said.
In an interview, a principal research scientist (Health Physicist) at the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), Dr. Joseph Amoako, described the situation as dangerous saying that they were likely to be electrocuted or to set the whole place ablaze due to the use of naked fire.
Dr. Amoako said because of the magnetic fields radiation from the transformer and the electrical cables, it was likely to have long term effects on the occupants but more deadly to children as it could lead to brain damage to children.
The Head of Public Relations of ECG, Mr. William Boateng, said it was totally wrong and illegal for the squatters to use the transformer station as their abode.
He said it was because the transformer was active, that the company fenced the place to prevent people from encroaching saying “they cannot guarantee that nothing would happen”.
Mr. Boateng explained that even in instances that transformers were relocated to spacious places because of their high capacity or weakness in structure of the building, it did not pave the way for people to occupy the place.
He said there were instances that his outfit, together with the police carried out an operation to evict illegal occupants but after a while, they still went back.
‘The fact that the area is fenced clearly tells that the place is active and it is dangerous for anybody to get closer let alone use the place as an abode”, he said.
The Deputy Public Relations Officer of the Ghana National Fire Service, Divisional Officer III, Prince Billey Anaglate, described the situation as worrying and that the earlier the ECG and the city authorities moved in to evict the occupants, the better.
He said the voltage capacity of such stations were higher and served as distribution points, noting that the slightest spark could lead to massive explosion which could claim many lives and properly.
He said his outfit might be compelled to move in to clear the occupants to avoid any imminent danger.
The Director of the Radioactive Protection Board of GAEC, Prof. Geoffrey Emil-Reynolds, said the earlier the squatters were taken off the place, the better, saying they could be electrocuted or cause danger through their action or inactions.
He, however, suggested that an alternative place of abode be provided before carrying out future demolition exercise so as to avoid squatters pitching around.
The Metropolitan Chief Executive for Accra, Dr. Alfred Okoe Vanderpuije told The Ghanaian Times that he would lead a taskforce to clear them before the unfortunate happened.
He said it was unsafe for people to occupy such a sensitive place and wondered how people could take advantage of any open space as place of abode but was quick to add that the assembly would ensure that all illegal structures were pulled down.
By Francis Asamoah Tuffour