All is set for the long-awaited redevelopment of the old James Town Fishing Harbour in the historical heart of Accra.
This follows Wednesday’s dawn demolition exercise, which was carried out by officials of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), accompanied by armed police officers.
The Assembly had served formal notice of its intention to clear the site.
Reports say that after the demolition, residents of the quarter who had not paid attention to the notice could be seen attempting to salvage their belongings from the rubble.
The chief fisherman of James Town, Nii Armah Wulu, told journalists that the local community supported the exercise because the AMA had engaged with them and convinced them of the harbour project’s importance.
“We were given letters by the AMA about the demolition, which was put on hold as a result of the partial lockdown due to the coronavirus,” he said.
Yet a fight broke out on social media immediately after the demolition as the local MP, Nii Lantey Vanderpuye (NDC, Odododiodoo), described the exercise at the James Town Fishing Harbour as “unacceptable and improper” and said it had been carried out “without proper procedure and human face”.
“Under the United Nations Convention as enshrined in the protocols of the UN Habitat, it’s unacceptable and improper to forcefully eject or evict people no matter the condition,” Vanderpuye wrote on his Facebook wall.
“Unbearable and difficult”
“I don’t know what a week or two notifications [sic] to the affected people would have done to the project,” the MP said. “Today, we have made life unbearable and difficult for some of our own people.
“I wish the Almighty God would show mercy and favour upon these people. He is the God of provision and would provide for them.
“As their MP, I am going to engage with them and see what could be done to alleviate their pain and suffering.”
The MP further insinuated that if the harbour project is completed within the life of the current government, there was a prospect that he might be “violently and shamefully prevented from taking my seat at the inauguration”.
A spokesman for the AMA, Gilbert Nii Ankrah, said although James Town fell within the Assembly’s jurisdiction, the redevelopment is being supervised by the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development (MoFAD).
He gave the assurance that lawful residents of the project site who had been displaced by the demolition would receive compensation in due course.
Ghana and the People’s Republic of China signed an agreement in April 2018, providing for the reconstruction of the old James Town Fishing Harbour at a cost of US$50 million.
The project is expected to boost local fisherfolk’s productivity and create roughly a thousand jobs for young people.
The redevelopment will be carried out in three main phases:
- Dredging of approximately 118,000 cubic metres of the seabed to create a new harbour basin and shipping channels;
- Construction of hydraulic structures, comprising a number of berths, a breakwater and a seawall;
- Construction of administrative, processing and other supporting facilities, including an office building, a trading market and a kindergarten.
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