Tema West Municipal Assembly hosts ‘kiosk Estate’

BY: Benjamin Glover
A typical ‘house’ without sanitation facilities at the ‘Kiosk Estate’.
A typical ‘house’ without sanitation facilities at the ‘Kiosk Estate’.

The Tema West Municipal Assembly (TWMA) in the Greater Accra Region hosts perhaps one of the biggest slums in the eastern part of the Greater Accra Region.
On the shoulders of the Accra-Tema motorway is a huge slum community housing several families.

The springing up of these make-shift structures does not only pose a threat to the environment along the Tema Motorway but is also a security threat to motorists and residents of that area.

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How does the newly created TWMA plan to tackle this slum community? The Presiding Member (PM) of the TWMA, Mr Kwesi Poku Bosompem, in a response to this question said as an assembly, they had resolved to streamline the placement of containers in the municipality and where possible, eject those who were illegally occupying such unapproved structures.

Kiosk Estate

Mr Bosompem noted that the land housing the slum, which had become popularly known as “Kiosk Estate”, belonged to someone and the assembly would go after the landowner and tell him or her to develop the land for the purpose for which he or she acquired it.


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“If he or she is not ready to develop the land, we as an assembly will approach the Tema Development Company Ltd (TDC) to re-enter the land and take possession of it.

Some of the wooden structures earmarked for demolition at ‘Kiosk Estate’ 

“The presence of the slum has security implications and the TWMA Municipal Security Committee must take cognisance of the presence and expansion of that slum community along the motorway and take steps to stop such developments,” he stated.

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About the rise of the Kiosk Estate

The sprawling slum community, which is built on a land earmarked for construction of a road through Community 18, is home to thousands of people from various regions of the country.

Ms Sefakor Homeku, who has lived in the slum for over five years told the Daily Graphic she acquired a kiosk at GHȼ800 from an agent for her provisions business.

She said she earns her livelihood from her business to sustain her family stressing that any attempt to evict her and the family will affect her negatively.

Mr Latif Iddirisu said he relocated to the slum after a house he was putting up at the Adjei Kojo area was demolished in an exercise carried out by the TDC.

He said he could not afford the high cost of rent in other parts of the city, hence he settled for a wooden structure in the slum which is relatively cheaper.

Accommodation price

"I pay GHȼ40 as rent to the kiosk owners, which is reasonable compared to high rates charged elsewhere.”

A section of the area encroached by squatters

Though the squatters are aware of plans by the city authorities to eject them, their hope is that the assembly will do so tactfully and map out a resettlement plan before any demolishing exercise is carried out.

Already the Ministry of Roads and Highways has bemoaned the springing up of unauthorised structures along the motorway and issued a two-month ultimatum to individuals and organisations that had sited buildings and wooden structures along the road corridor to move or be forcibly ejected.

Mr Kwesi Amoako Atta at a sod cutting ceremony for an intersection at the Tema end of the motorway hinted that the ministry, in collaboration with the city authorities and other stakeholders, were working out a resettlement package for squatters along the motorway and expressed the hope that they would co-operate.

It would be only a matter of time before we see if this threat is carried through.

Street lighting

The absence of street lights in some communities in the new TWMA has become a problem for residents due to apathy on the part of local authorities.

In the absence of street lights, the roads in the area turn pitch dark in the evening, creating problems for residents and road users.

A typical ‘house’ without sanitation facilities at the ‘Kiosk Estate’.

In an interview with one of the residents, Mr Isaac Armah, he fumed: “How can a community in Tema in this day and age lack street lights? We are now used to driving and walking without street lights. This is unacceptable and the new assembly must take steps to light up the streets.”

Mr Bosompem agreed with Mr Armah and said before the end of the year, the TWMA would light up the area.

“The only way we can collect revenue is to make sure that people also get the needed services they are demanding from us and I am assuring you that the TWMA will work at it and become a model assembly,” he added.

Encroachment

Another challenge the TWMA has to grapple with is the issue of encroachment on public lands meant for development.

The Assembly Member for Sakumono, Dr Richard Fiadumor, bemoaned the encroachment of lands earmarked for a community day school, a project which started during the tenure of former President John Mahama.

Dr Fiadumor, also a former PM of the Tema Metropolitan Assembly, said for months now, large parts of the land secured for the school project had been invaded by land guards and developers who were said to be putting up structures without permits.

Kwasi Poku —Presiding Member, TWMA

He said the lands in question belonged to the TWMA and, therefore, tasked the assembly to take steps to reclaim it from the encroachers.

With the assembly operating on rented premises, the new assembly will need land to put up offices and accommodation for the municipal chief executive (MCE), coordinating director and other key staff.

The new assembly must, therefore, place a higher priority on securing and developing every available public land in the municipality for the future development of the area.

TWMA vs TMA

The TWMA was inaugurated on Thursday, March 15, 2018 after being ceded off the Tema Metropolitan Assembly (TMA).

The creation of the new district forms part of the government's agenda to enhance the decentralisation process in order to speed up development.

The TWMA is the fourth after the Ashaiman, Adenta and Kpone-Katamanso assemblies to be carved out of the TMA.

Even before the appointment of an MCE, for the new TWMA its PM, Mr Bosompem; the Municipal Co-ordinating Director, Mr Bediako Brempong Asare; and the MCE for the TMA, Mr Felix Mensah Nii Anang-La, collaborated to bring development to the municipality.

Four months into the creation of the new TWMA, officers of the assembly are faced with numerous challenges which threaten to mar its forward march.

Revenue mobilisation

The TWMA has been charged by law to mobilise its own funds to implement its projects and programmes.

The district has two sources of funds: Internally Generated Funds and External Sources.

Efforts by the TWMA to effectively mobilise resources for the provision of infrastructure to help enhance the quality of life of the residents in the newly created assembly appear to have hit an initial snag.

Following the creation of the TWMA, a series of meetings were held among the new assembly, TMA and the Greater Accra Regional Coordinating Council, during which it was agreed that the TMA should cede revenue collection from residents to TWMA by May 1, 2018.

Regrettably, in spite of the existence of such an agreement, officials of the TMA still engage in revenue collection from business operators, traders and property owners in the new Municipality, which is, affecting the developmental agenda of the TWMA.

Maiden assembly meeting

In an interview with the Daily Graphic after its maiden general assembly meeting, the PM of the newly created TWMA led the charge by calling on the TMA to desist from such practices.

He said if the new assembly was to stand on its feet and address the motley of challenges facing it, it must be allowed to mobilise its own revenue towards the speedy development of the area.

“TMA still collecting revenue from our jurisdiction is not proper. If the practice were to be on the boundaries, we would have assumed that maybe it was due to boundary disputes but unfortunately, we have revenue officers from the TMA coming all the way to Klagon, Batsonaa and Lashibi to collect revenue, and this we think is unacceptable,” Mr Bosompem said.

The slum is also a hub for business as kiosk owners offer rental services for desperate squatters in search of an abode

For a newly created assembly which is yet to benefit from external sources of funding, be it Common Fund or donor support, Mr Bosompem said their only hope remained the internally generated funds but their effort was being frustrated by the TMA revenue officers who forayed into the jurisdiction of the TWMA to collect rates, business operating permits and other fees from residents and businesses.

He said the TWMA had written a petition to the Greater Accra Regional Coordinating Council in which they had resolved that they would not sit back and watch the TMA overstep its boundaries to collect revenue which rightfully belonged to the TWMA.

Therefore, the general assembly of the TWMA, resolved that effective July 12, 2018, officials of the TWMA would go round to collect and collate receipts of rates meant for the TWMA that have been paid to the TMA and demand full payment from the TMA.

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