The vexed issue of Agbogbloshie

Many people heaved a sigh of relief when the Greater Accra Regional Coordinating Council (GARCC) led an onslaught that saw the demolition of the infamous Agbogbloshie scrapyard and onion market on July 1, 2021.


It was refreshing news for members of the public because they felt that would bring an end to the heavy air pollution that emanated from the open burning of electronic waste.

The demolition exercise, which was spearheaded by the Greater Accra Regional Minister, Henry Quartey, as part of the "Let's Make Accra Work Again" project, was seen as a bold step to avert the looming ecological disaster, improve on the city's environmental health and help decongest the city.

However, it is disheartening that more than two years after the demolition of the Agbogbloshie scrapyard and onion market, the 80-acre reclaimed land has been reduced to a site for open defecation and an unauthorised dumpsite.

As captured vividly by the January 31, 2024 issue of the Daily Graphic, the vast land is "now covered with piles of solid waste" and yielding to incessant dumping of waste.

Again, the paper observed, rather sadly, that the land was fast reverting to "its old toxic state, as smoke had engulfed the entire area."

Although the demolition exercise, which was carried out by the GARCC was meant to deal with the nuisance of the heavy pollution in the area, the current state of affairs makes the exercise a wild goose chase.

The current situation at the reclaimed Agbogbloshie scrapyard land reflects the sorry state of management of public spaces by city authorities.

Perhaps, the Regional Minister is right when he told the Daily Graphic that it was not the responsibility of the GARCC to protect the area from encroachment after helping to relocate the onion sellers and scrap dealers and securing the place for redevelopment.

As the minister pointed out, it is the responsibility of the Ablekuma Central Municipal Assembly, which is the local authority with territorial jurisdiction, to protect the land.

The local authority has the core mandate of ensuring that the people do not encroach on the reclaimed land.

The assembly also has the responsibility of ensuring that there is a halt to the dumping of refuse and defecation on the land.

However, just as the GARCC led the “Let’s Make Accra Work” initiative in 2021, which saw the relocation of the onion traders and scrap dealers, the council could prioritise the protection of the reclaimed Agbogbloshie land in its oversight role.  

The GARCC cannot wash its hands off the reclaimed Agbogbloshie land, especially so when the Regional Minister had indicated that there was a proposed re-development scheme that had been prepared for the land.

What has become of the redevelopment scheme that was supposed to have been submitted to Cabinet for approval?

The Daily Graphic is aware that after the demolition of the Agbogbloshie scrapyard, a portion of the land was allocated for the construction of a modern health facility, under the government’s Agenda 111 initiative.

We are of the view that immediate steps must be taken by the Ablekuma Central Municipal Assembly and the GARCC to stop the dumping of solid waste on the reclaimed land before the situation gets out of hand.

It is unacceptable for a prime land in the heart of the city to be turned into a safe haven for people to empty their bowels, when the country is battling to end open defecation by 2030 in line with the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 6.2.

We cannot fold our arms and watch another environmental and health disaster unfold. Until the demolition of the scrapyard in 2021, the area had gained the infamous tag as one of the most polluted and dirtiest e-waste sites in the world.

It was the darkest spot for Ghana on the global stage in terms of environmental safety management.


It would therefore be unconscionable for the area to be left to degenerate into its former state after spending scarce resources to demolish the area and depriving thousands of people of their source of livelihood. 

The current development is worrying because apart from the health impact, it also defeats the government's agenda to make Accra the cleanest city in Africa.

The Daily Graphic calls for the implementation of the proposed redevelopment scheme that was intended to give the Agbogbloshie area a facelift. 

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