Outrage as Ghana Demolishes ‘Sodom and Gomorrah’, the Country's Biggest Slum

Residents watching bulldozers demolishing their homes and businesses. Photo by Hassi Baniaz. Used with permission.

Residents watching bulldozers demolishing their homes and businesses. Photo by Hassi Baniaz. Used with permission.

Ghana's biggest slum, Old Fadama, popularly referred to as Sodom and Gomorrah, was pulled down by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) and The National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO). The slum housed over 60,000 residents, mostly people from the northern part of Ghana.

The demolition of the slum happened as a result of flooding on June 3, 2015, that took over 150 lives. The flood was Ghana's biggest disaster to have happened since over 120 people died during a local soccer stampede.

Alfred Okoe Vanderpuije, the Accra Metropolitican chief executive, has warned of more demolition in the area.

Many Ghanaians have accused the government of failing to make good on its promise to help residents whose businesses and houses were destroyed. Angry residents living in the “Sodom and Gomorrah” including youth, women and children protested against the demolition and vowed not to vote for the incumbent president in the upcoming elections.

Nana Akua (@nanaakuab), a journalist and blogger, tweeted a picture of the angry young person protesting:

On Facebook, Kobby Blay, a nurse and founder of Ghana Health Nest, disapproved of the way government went about demolishing the slum, but disagreed with how the residents protested:

they have every right to demonstrate but not as to how they doing it; burning tyres,blocking roads, and some acts of vandalism, unawful entries…Is any group not suppose to get warrant before even doing so??

The acting national coordinator of NADMO, Brigadier General Francis Vib Sanziri, indicated that the slum's demolition was for dredging purposes:

It is to facilitate the overall project of dredging of the area and the initial stage of preventing the water from running through the city. It will also make the water get through to the sea. The place is the main outlet, so I think if we can get it cleared it will be prudent.

Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama said the removing the settlement was to allow the free flow of water to drains in the area. He also said officials would make preparations for re-settling residents before any demolition was carried out.

However, many Ghanaians criticized the decision to demolish the slum as hasty and not well planned, since many businesses were destroyed and young people left jobless. Joojo Cobbinah, a news producer at Joy News, commented on Facebook questioning the preparation government put in place before the demolition:

Well they have every right to demonstrate. If government of Ghana will sign conventions that says people should not be made homeless after demolitions and evictions. That people should be relocated when they have made a place a home, why shouldn't they demonstrate. Government is also perpetuating a serious illegality. Infringing on the rights of slum dwellers. If government wants to do what it wants then it should not deceive the public by signing laws they cannot obey. How many of us have driven through Accra Central at 11 pm. The state of homelessness will make you weep. Some will go back to the towns they came from but majority will stay.
Did Vice President Mahama now President not chair a committee to relocate the people back in 2011 when Mills was in power?

Ghanaians on Twitter shared their thoughts as “Sodom and Gomorrah” trended for several days on Twitter.

Zeta Sesh (@zetasesh) pointed out that:

Anthony Momoh (@ant_moh), a social and political egalitarian, asked a critical question:

Ghanaian comedian David Oscar (@davidoscargh) reiterated the need for citizens to hold their leaders accountable:

Mutonbo (@mutonbodapoet), one of Ghana's finest poets, jokingly advised the president:

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