Slum Dwellers Fight City Authority Over Forced Evictions

Slum dwellers predominantly from Old Fadama have criticized metropolitan authorities for pulling down people’s houses in a move to expel them without due respect for human rights provisions, engrained in both local and international laws.

The dwellers, categorized as urban poor, described the recent demolition exercise carried out by the Accra metropolitan assembly as counter-productive with negative social and economic costs weighing heavily on people’s livelihoods, health, and education.

Mr Abu Haruna, a member of the Ghana Federation of the Urban Poor, told the Ghana News Agency on the sidelines of a West African hub meeting, that forced evictions were in gross violation of international human rights laws.

The meeting created a platform for the members to share their bitter experiences with sisters and brothers from Crab Town in Freetown, Sierra Leone and Badia East in Lagos, Nigeria, who were also ejected from their homes by authorities.

Mr Haruna cited article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, and article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to buttress his point.

He blamed insanitary conditions at Old Fadama and Agbogbloshie and other areas on poor planning by the authorities and their failure to engage slum dwellers to find lasting solutions rather than applying what he called brutal force to eject people who have lived their lives in a locality for over 15 years.

“The problem is that our leaders behave as if they don’t have feelings when planning to build houses, they don’t even know that people come to Accra not to look for accommodation but to do business, there is no data and they just do things anyhow,” Mr Haruna said.

He stated: “If you destroy somebody’s house and bring a bus that they should go back to the north, you ask yourself, are all those coming from the north? of course no, we have some coming from Togo, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria and so on.”

“You see these our people tag us with all sort of names, armed robbers, pick pockets, wee sellers, cocaine dealers and the rest but during elections they will come to us asking for votes and promising everything.”

The meeting culminated in the development of a communiqué affirming their resolution to stand united against evictions and demolitions and to seek partnership among communities, governments, and city authorities to implement community-led eviction plans.

They also enjoined governments to refrain from rendering communities homeless, only to come back later to use people’s taxes revenue to buy relief items purporting to mitigate the situation.

They urged the regional bloc to impress upon governments to adequately protect communities against homelessness and come up with regional resolutions prohibiting forced evictions in West African cities.