Structures at 'Abuja' demolished (Saturday, June 19, 2010)

STRUCTURES belonging to squartters of Abuja, one of the slums in the Central Business District of Accra, were reduced to a pile of rubble at the behest of a landowner on the order of an Accra Circuit Court.

The four-hour exercise which began at 8.00am yesterday, under the protection of armed policemen saw a dozer ploughing through the wooded structures while angry squatters looked on.

The squarters accused the Ghana Railway Company Limited (GRCL), of collecting ground rent from them only to have their structures demolished.
A man who claimed to be the brother of the purported owner of the land, one Mr Owusu, said his brother leased the land from the GRCL and had been trying to eject the squatters for quite a while.
“The matter went to court and the ejection order was given,” he said.
When the Daily Graphic arrived on the scene a bulldozer was clearing  the debris and levelling the ground while some of the owners of the demolished structures were seen salvaging what was left of their business and places of abode.
 Others also vowed to invoke curses on officials of the GRCL and whoever authorised the demolition.
They claimed the GRCL did not inform them it had sold the land to anyone but continued to take rent from them.
A furious trader, Ms Vida  Sai, alleged that she and other occupants of the kiosks in the area paid more than GH¢200 each to the GRCL as ground rent less than two weeks ago.
Another resident, Mr Jamal Seidu, stated that the residents did not receive any notification that their structures would be destroyed.
“If we have been notified why would I pay GH¢100 to the Railways to get ejected two weeks later?” he queried.
Ama Serwa, a mother of three, whose children were seen loitering around naked said she lost everything because she was not around when the demolition team arrived.

“Where would my children sleep in this rainy season? “ She asked.

The residents appealed to the government to come to their aid because they had no alternative place to lay their heads.

Several receipts allegedly issued by the GRCL which were sighted by the Daily Graphic confirmed the payments.

Few hours into the demolition exercise, a team of officials from the GRCL arrived at the site enquiring about who authorised the demolition exercise.

When the Accra Manager of the GRCL, Mr Emmanuel Ativor, was contacted, he denied knowledge of any lease or court order.

According to him all matters relating to a lease was handled by the company’s head office in Takoradi. “As we speak, I have no knowledge of any lease, not until I see the documents which I have sent for, I cannot confirm it.”

He said even though the company had marked some structures for demolition, it had not embarked on any demolition neither had it authorised any one to do so.

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