The Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) has issued a demolition order that will result in over 2,000 families being forced to evacuate their homes in Gbawe Gonse, located in the Weija Gbawe Municipality of the Greater Accra Region.
The order, marked by red paint inscriptions reading “to be demolished by GWCL” and dated October 9, 2023, was carried out by individuals suspected to be from the Weija Gbawe Municipal Assembly and GWCL, under the supervision of armed military personnel.
Upon visiting the area, it was observed that some buildings situated more than 600 meters away from the river, as well as those on a nearby hill, had been marked for demolition.
Residents expressed confusion and concern as the markings failed to specify a demolition date or provide a grace period for evacuation.
Mr. Asare, a long-time resident of the community and a government appointee to the Weija Gbawe Municipal Assembly, called for government intervention to prevent the demolition and ensure the safety of lives.
While supporting efforts to protect the water body, he urged the GWCL to engage with residents to find permanent solutions to the issue, emphasizing the avoidance of military involvement.
The affected areas, including Agape Down, Agape Royal, and Ablekuma Joma, are home to over 500 houses whose owners and residents now face the imminent threat of demolition.
These individuals have spent the last two days living in fear, uncertain about the fate of their properties valued at hundreds of millions of Ghana cedis. They have received no compensation or resettlement plans.
It is worth noting that a similar demolition occurred in Joma, a neighboring community within the same municipality, a few weeks ago, with no prior notice or compensation provided to the victims.
This impending demolition would be the second in 12 years led by the GWCL in the same area. The previous demolition, which took place in December 2011, resulted in the destruction of over 500 completed and uncompleted houses, leaving more than 2,000 people homeless and tragically causing the death of a pregnant woman.
The GWCL justified the first demolition by citing encroachment on the buffer zone of the Densu River, which supplies water to the Weija Dam, a critical national asset that provides potable water to thousands of residents in central and western Accra.
However, in the current situation, no reasons have been given for the demolition, despite many of the marked houses being far from the river’s buffer zone.
Some residents shared stories of the devastating effects caused by the previous demolition, including poverty, broken marriages, and the loss of many lives. They questioned why their own government would subject them to such treatment.
Agatha Ofori, a woman whose one-story building was marked for demolition, spoke of the emotional torture she and others are experiencing, unable to sleep peacefully.
The cost of land and building materials makes it nearly impossible for them to evacuate their homes, leaving them uncertain about where they and their children will go.
John Kpeglo, a retiree who had rebuilt half of his previously demolished building, expressed fear and appealed to the government for assistance.
He mentioned that the landlords’ association was willing to plant trees to demarcate the land and clearly define the boundaries.
During the visit, it was discovered that distraught residents had just concluded a meeting to discuss their next steps. Tearful women and other affected residents pleaded with the government to intervene.
Residents pointed out that the assembly had assigned GPS addresses to houses in the area, collected property rates, and provided electricity through the Electricity Company of Ghana.
Furthermore, the community had demarcated electoral areas. They stressed that they were not living in the area illegally, as evidenced by the assembly’s request for property rates.
Some residents suspected that the earmarked demolition was being carried out in disregard of a standing injunction against any demolitions in the area.
They also questioned the role of government agencies such as the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Land Commission, Weija Gbawe Municipal Assembly, Forestry Commission, Ministry of Works and Housing, and GWCL, which seemingly allowed the sale and construction of properties on the land following the previous demolition over a decade ago.