Several families have been left stranded after their makeshift structures at Adjiringanor in the Adentan Municipality were destroyed by the Ghana Grid Company Limited (GRIDCo).
The hundreds of residents who were living under the power company’s pylons from Adjiringanor to American House at East Legon have become homeless but yet occupying the land along the high tension.
Officials of GRIDCo and armed police officers stormed the area on Saturday, 23rd July, 2022, to pull down the illegal wooden structures and kiosks used by mechanics, and other artisans as their homes.
When XYZ reporter Piesie Okrah visited the area, the residents were seen salvaging the personal effects they could lay hands on while others were reacting to the demolition exercise with anger.
While some of the affected persons accused owners of properties in the area as being behind the destruction of their structures, others felt they were entitled to the land.
“This is a government land and we are the people that make the government so why should they come and harm us and destroy our structures,” a young man lamented.
Another man, a carpenter, said they had no place to move to since the government has not provided any accommodation for persons who do menial jobs in cities.
“I can’t rent a room with the little money I earn from doing menial jobs. Rent is expensive in Accra so I decided to live here in a wooden structure and focus on earning much and leave at a point when I can comfortably rent a room,” a steel bender popularly knowns as Rasta said.
He continued, “now my wife is pregnant and they have come to demolish our only structure that accommodates us when we get here from work. Where should we go?”
Study by doctors at the University of Bristol Medical School, UK, has shown that living near high voltage electrical pylons substantially increases one’s risks of contracting cancer.
Although officials tell the squatters the dangers of living under the pylons but they bank their hopes on God for good health.
One of the squatters, who said he had to move to Adjiringanor after a similar demolition exercise at Kwame Nkrumah Circle where he was doing his business, argued that they had no place to go except re-erecting their wooden structures in the area.
“We came to Accra to seek job opportunities and we can’t afford to rent rooms. They say we will fall sick living under these pylons but ever since we came here nobody has fallen ill. Look at me. Do I look like I am ill?” he quizzed.
A mother of a one month old baby pleaded with the authorities to give them an alternative rather than leaving them to their fate after the demolition.
“Land is very expensive in Accra so we can’t buy. See my young child. We sleep outside at night after this destruction? We have nowhere to go,” she bemoaned.
Some the residents said they want the government to intervene by getting them a land elsewhere for them to pay in installments as they continue to work.
Reacting to the matter, the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for Adentan Municipality, Mr. Daniel Alexander Aduamuah, admitted the exercise was sanctioned by GRIDCo.
He said he fully support the exercise because the “rules of the game” are that there should be a buffer on both sides of the high pylons.
“We have a situation where individuals have got informal settlements under there. Most of the times we don’t know who brings them…Those people who sleep in kiosks, where do they defecate? where do they have their bath? where do their waste goes? Apart from that if any of these high tension cables should come down. If you have ever seen the effects of it and the fire that it generates you wonder why people are under there,” he said.
Mr. Adumuah also indicated that the squatters tamper with the pylons and that is what gets GRIDCo to react.
“I think that we should also. as a people, look into the future and see whether these are the kind of things that we want to encourage and then let there be some discipline in the system that we have,” he added.
To him, the people were not doing the right thing and need to be encouraged not to toy with their lives the way they are doing.
Mr Adumuah also suggested that they have to return to their hometowns and make good use of the government’s pro-poor programmes.
“If you don’t have to be in Accra, you do not have to be in Accra. I believe that that will be the major thing to do,” he stated and justified the demolition exercise.
Asked if the government had an intervention for the squatters, he said the government has local economic development activities in the various districts and it will be good for them to benefit from.