Buildings of 'Illegal occupants' around Kawukudi central Mosque demolished
Scores of buildings located around the Central Mosque at Kawukudi in the Ayawaso East Municipality of Accra, were pulled down Tuesday (March 21), rendering hundreds of people homeless.
The demolition was carried out by the Ayawaso East Municipal Assembly (AEMA), led by the police.
The move is to clear "the illegal occupants" of the land, which is sandwiched between the National Vocational Training Institute (NVTI) and the Nima-Maamobi Community Library, close to the National Mosque.
Eyewitnesses said the exercise started at dawn when the residents of the area were still asleep.
When Graphic Online got to the area around 8:30 am, about 200 structures, including motor repair shops, containers and food vending facilities, had been reduced to rubble.
Victims of the demolition exercise, including women with babies strapped to the backs, were seen trying to salvage some items from the rubble.
Armed police officers numbering over 30, were seen providing security.
An eye-witness, Rafik Seidu, told Graphic Online's Timothy Ngnenbe that the demolition exercise started around 5:30am.
"I went to the mosque to pray, and when I finished and came out I saw people running out of their rooms. Some of them had towels around their waist and others wore only shorts, because they were still sleeping when the demolition started," he said.
"Some people said they want to clear the area and use it for a police station, but I do not know if that is true," he added.
No comment from ASMA
It is not clear what the purpose of the demolition exercise was as the AEMA failed to speak to Graphic Online.
The residents of the area gave three different accounts for the demolition.
Some of the residents of the area said the land had been sold to a church so they were being ejected to pave the way for the church to develop the land.
Others said it was being cleared to be used for a police station while another group said the structures were being cleared because of the National Mosque.
However, efforts made by Graphic Online to get clarification from the AEMA was fruitless as the officials remained tight-lipped.
Graphic Online contacted the District Coordinating Director of AEMA, Nii-Armah Ashitey, at 9a.m. but he said he could not speak to the issue and referred the team to the engineers carrying out the operation.
From 9a.m. until 11:48 a.m. when the Daily Graphic team left the area, the officials of AEMA still did not speak to the issue.
Some of the victims said they had not been consulted prior to the demolition exercise.
Others said although they were informed about the demolition exercise some time ago, they were not aware that it would happen today.
"They say the land is government property so they need it, but we did not know that they will come today," Aziz Rufai said.
"I was still asleep when I heard people shouting, so I ran out only to see that armed policemen were watching on while excavators pulled down our accommodation," another victim, who gave his name as Jibril, said.
Meanwhile, the timely intervention of the Director-General of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), Nana Agyeman Prempeh, prevented the demolition of a bungalow occupied by staff of the organisation in the area.
The demolition was temporarily halted when the excavator operators got to the area that housed the NADMO staff.
The NADMO staff tried to talk the demolition team out of the exercise, but the team would have none of that.
A staff of NADMO who spoke to the Daily Graphic said the bungalow being targeted for demolition housed 14 households.
"NADMO is a state institution and the bungalow we are occupying is a state building, so if any demolition is to be carried out at all, it is proper that the two state institutions involved speak to each other for the exercise to be done well.
It is not proper for NADMO staff to wake up to the news that we should pack our belongings out for demolition, when we have not been informed," he said.
After about three hours of back and forth, the NADMO Director visited the area and had engagement with the AEMA team.
The Daily Graphic gathered that a one-week ultimatum had been given for all unauthorised structures attached to the NADMO block to be demolished.