We Are Now Refugees In Our Country – Adjei Kojo Residents

Victims of Sraha East in the Adjei Kojo Constituency have told The Finder that they consider themselves as refugees in their own country after the Tema Development Corporation (TDC) demolished their buildings and other properties worth millions of cedis.

The National Disaster and Management Organisation (NADMO) in the Tema Metropolis puts the number of households demolished at about 800 from 365 houses pulled down.

The victims, who are still putting up in the area because they do not have anywhere to go to, were provided 10 UNHCR tents as shelter in the interim.

A victim, Abdul Rahim said: “Not too long ago, we cooked in our kitchens, bathed in an enclosed place, had potable water to drink and electricity to power our gadgets, today here we are living like refugees in our country.”

During last Friday’s rains, the victims deserted their tents to perch on the veranda of some other houses nearby.

Angela Mensah, another victim, said “do we have any option to continue complaining as refugees in our own country? It is the media we are looking up to, to speak for us because at the moment we have nowhere else to go after investing our hard-earned income to build our houses.”

The Managing Director of TDC, Joe Abbey, justifying the demolition explained that the buildings, numbering over 60, had to be pulled down because they were either sited on waterways, on access roads or an encroachment on the land earmarked for “Sites and Services” project.

The TDC boss said none of the occupants of the land had paid any amount of money to the TDC either for the purchase of the land or for a building permit as claimed by some of the victims, and thus challenged all persons who said they have documents to that effect to prove it.

Mr Abbey said these at a media briefing to tell the TDC’s side of the story and to react to public questions as to why the TDC had to wait for the victims to finish putting up their buildings before pulling them down.

The Corporation, he said, had cautioned the encroachers for about three years and sent its task force to the area to secure the land but on some occasions their men were attacked with weapons, which compelled TDC to withdraw for a while and call on the National Security for assistance.

He said, “It is also worth noting that between 2004 and 2006, the same area was demolished but people came back again to build there. It is not the whole of the Adjei Kojo town which had been brought down; it is only about 10 acres of land being secured out of the about 305 acres which make up the area.”

He said when they started issuing warnings to the residents, the buildings were only a handful but most of them sprang up within few months ostensibly to make it impossible for TDC to pull them down.

The Managing Director also stated that the TDC had been very sensitive in handling the issue, adding that on some occasions it had to make some changes in their project or negotiate with some of the occupants of their land.

He said it was unfortunate that the matter had generated a lot of public outburst, mostly putting the blame on the TDC which is legally carrying out its mandate of developing communities.

He revealed that the TDC in an attempt to put a human face to their activities had on some occasions regularised illegal occupants with as many as 905 ongoing, but in the case of the current area at Adjei Kojo, any attempt to do that would have impeded the projects marked for the area.

Mr Emmanuel Gakpetor, the vice-chairman of the Sraha East Residents’ Association, however, said he could not agree with Mr Abbey’s claim that any attempt to regularise their properties would have impeded their projects.