Old Fadama, popularly known as Sodom and Gomorrah and to others as Konkomba market, is located in the capital city of Accra and is said to be Ghana’s biggest slum. The area which boasts of over 90,000 people, most of whom are from the Northern part of Ghana, is located on the shoulders of the Korle lagoon, north of the country’s central business District.
Settling in this area first began in the late 1980’s when thousands of people fled the bloody ethnic clashes which occurred between the Nanumbas and Konkombas in the North. Though it started as a temporary settlement, it has since become a permanent settlement for many.
On Saturday, June 20, 2015, city authorities led by the Mayor of Accra, Dr. Alfred Okoe Vanderpuije, commenced a demolition exercise at Old Fadama following the June 3rd disaster in Accra. Residents of Sodom and Gomorrah have since, been accused of contributing to the flooding that occurs in most parts of the capital. Authorities and experts alike accused the people in the slum of blocking the drains to allow over flow of water with saw-dust and other waste materials.
A year down the line, GijOnline News visited the community to find out how resilient the residents have been since the exercise.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Mr. Philip Kumah, the P.R.O for Old Fadama, expressed his dissatisfaction about the mayor’s decision a year ago to demolish the structures in the community. He admitted that, Dr. Vanderpuije told them he needed space to facilitate an easy dislodging of the Korle lagoon but “he went too far by demolishing the houses of people who were least expecting that.” He further stated that the actions of the mayor “rendered people homeless and made them poorer because they lost their belongings and their livelihood.” According to Mr. Kumah, the residents are Ghanaians, who pay their taxes and are law abiding citizens and so there was no need for them to be “evicted in that manner”.
The emotional Mr. Kumah revealed that “the areas they demolished, nothing has been done there and as even the dredging of the lagoon is going on, and he (Dr. Vanderpuije) is not using that space.” In a reply to a question as to whether the residents were responsible for blocking the lagoon with saw-dust there by causing the recent flooding, Mr. Kumah said “ lets even assume that it is true that all the refuse are thrown into the lagoon by the residents, is that (the demolition) the solution? Have you (Mayor) provided refuse containers for the people to dump refuse in? We are close to 100,000 without any single refuse container”. He continued that, looking upstream from the bridge, one could see refuse moving towards the market and so the mayor and others who blame them should stop, for they were not fully responsible.
The Public Relation’s officer reiterated that the people of Old Fadama needed only 3 things from the Government. Relocation, Upgrading of the community by raising storey-buildings for them or any sort of compensation to the community if there is the need for eviction. Apart from that, he said, “the government should include us in their planning, whenever there is any planning, we should be involved so that we can contribute. They should take our views and consider us as citizens”.
Mr. Philip Kumah ended by advising the youth to remain peaceful since they “have always been peace loving people”.
Meanwhile, most of the residents expressed their worry about the demolition and how their lives have never been the same since the exercise.
Story by: Adams Abdallah Alhassan