Graphic Online

Graphic Online 

Squatters take over Odaw Railway Station in Accra

Author: Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson
Some of the squatters sleeping in the passenger waiting area of the station
Some of the squatters sleeping in the passenger waiting area of the station

They wash, sleep, cook and procreate at the Odaw Railway Station. Chairs at the Passenger Waiting Area have become spaces for their clothes, bags and other belongings.

Squatters have now taken over the refurbished Odaw Railway Station near the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange, just three months after the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) embarked on a massive demolition exercise to clear them and the unauthorised structures they had put up in the area.

The demolition exercise by the AMA in January 2018 cleared the illegal structures that dotted both sides of the Odaw drain, stretching from the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange to the Old Fadama area, popularly known as Sodom and Gomorrah.

But the exercise did not clear the people, as some of those who lost their places of abode have now moved to the Odaw Railway Station and made it their new home.

Activities

The squatters have taken over the passenger waiting area, the corridors and frontage of the station, making the station manager’s office the only place under the control of the railway authorities.


During a visit by some journalists to the area yesterday, children were seen playing and young ladies chatting in groups, while majority of the squatters were having a good nap.

It is not the ideal home, but the squatters are making the best use out of it, to the extent that some have claimed certain portions of the station as their personal space.

While majority of the squatters are Ghanaians, there are also Nigerians and others from other African countries.

The media team saw about 50 of such squatters at the station, but they were told that was just the tip of the iceberg.

“Most of them have gone to work. When you come here at night, this place is a very busy place,’’ Awareness Maxwell, a Nigerian squatter, said.

The Odaw Railway Station
The Odaw Railway Station

Station master

The activities of the squatters have had a negative impact on the operations of the railway station and the Station Master, Mr Reynolds Quansah, said he was scared for his life.

“They engage in all sorts of illegal activities, such as the selling of narcotics, prostitution and stealing. They also tamper with our lights and other gadgets,’’ he said.

According to him, prior to the demolition exercise, the Ghana Railway Authority shut down the operations of the station to allow maintenance works on the rail tracks.

“We shut down our operations about four months ago but we still come to work because the maintenance works are ongoing. Whenever we come to work, we have to deal with these squatters,’’ he said.

He explained that a task force of the Ghana Railway Development Authority had issued several warnings to the squatters to vacate the station but those warnings had fallen on deaf ears.

“What we need is a police clampdown to clear the area of these squatters to reduce criminal activities at the station,’’ he said.

Squatters’ response

In response, the leader of the squatters, Mr Anthony Kwabena Tupkele, said they took over the railway station because they had nowhere to go.

“We appeal to the government to give us some compensation to relocate to another area,’’ he said.

Another squatter, who identified herself as Yaa Dufie, said she had been a squatter at the area for the past 25 years and had no other home.

“The government must resettle us. Even refugees, who are not Ghanaians, are paid something and given an area to settle,’’ she said.