Some of the squatters and illegal structures at Lavender Hill in Accra. Picture: EBOW HANSON
The coastline around the Lavender Hill Faecal Treatment Plant at Jamestown in the Greater Accra Region is under siege from hundreds of squatters, a situation that poses a security threat to members of the public who operate in that vicinity.
The squatters, whose structures were demolished at the site for the Jamestown Fishing Harbour project three months ago, have invaded that section of the coastline where they have put up makeshift structures for accommodation.
The area has also been turned into a business enclave, as fish mongers and petty traders have pitched camp there to ply their trade.
When the Daily Graphic visited the sprawling shanty town last Wednesday, it was observed that the area was fast developing into a squalor.
When the team got there about 2:30 p.m., some of the squatters were seen busily erecting wooden structures and mini-kiosks to serve as accommodation and business centres.
The area was buzzing with human activities as the squatters engaged in different endeavours.
It was observed that as a result of their activities, the coastal enclave was inundated in filth, as the squatters threw waste matter around with impunity, worsening the sanitation situation there.
It was also evident that the place had become a haven for criminal elements, as some of the youth there were seen living ‘gangster’ lifestyles.
Some of them said they were ready to “do anything to survive” because their livelihoods had been affected by the demolition exercise at the Jamestown Beach enclave.
One of them, who gave his name as Kwasi Annan, said the situation they found themselves in could push them into crime as things were difficult for them.
“Some of us put our money into building structures to do our business, but officials of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) came and destroyed them. When we moved to this new place, I erected another structure which cost me GH¢2,000 and the AMA destroyed it again.
“If the assembly continues demolishing our structures and we do not have anything to do, we will be left with no option but to resort to criminal activities to make a living,” he said.
Another squatter, Samuel Nii Quaye, who introduced himself as the linguist of the Chief Fisherman at Jamestown, said the lifestyle at the new squatter community was dangerous.
He complained that since the area was along a highway and vehicles moved at top speed, it was a threat to the lives of squatters.
He added that although the people had been at the area for about three months now, the AMA’s continued demolition of their structures was a major concern.
“Some of us are fishermen and we keep our premix fuel here; but anytime the AMA comes to demolish the structures, they destroy the fuel. We want the AMA to stop demolishing the structures here because we do not have any place to go,” he added.
Jamestown Fishing Harbour Project
The AMA has demolished hundreds of structures at the Jamestown Beach enclave to pave the way for work to begin on the Jamestown Fishing Harbour project.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo cut the sod for the construction of the fishing harbour on December 6, 2018.
He said the project would be built with a Chinese grant of $60 million and was expected to improve the lives of residents of the coastal community.
The Jamestown Fishing Harbour project is in three major parts — the dredging of about 118,000 cubic metres harbour basin and shipping channels, the construction of hydraulic structures composed of berths, a sea wall and a breakwater and the construction of administration, production and supporting facilities, including an office building, a kindergarten, a market, a processing area, a commercial area and other production activities.
Meanwhile, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the AMA, Mr Gilbert Nii Ankrah, said the assembly had taken note of the activities of the squatters and would flush them out.
He told the Daily Graphic that following the demolition of structures at the Jamestown fishing harbour site, the AMA decided to prepare the coastline along the Lavender Hill Faecal Treatment Plant to be used as a temporary landing beach for fishermen.
“We prepared the place only for the fishermen in the area to be able to carry on with their fishing activities until the fishing harbour project is completed. However, we have seen that some other people have moved in there and even started building permanent structures,” he said.
Mr Ankrah added that the city authority had mapped up a strategy to fish out the illegal occupants of the area.
When asked how soon the AMA would carry out that exercise, he said “I can tell you that we are engaging and seeing how best to take the illegal settlers out because they should not be there.”