Thanks to Justin Stoler for pointing to a story about the recent demolition of more than 1,000 squatter homes in the Old Fadama neighborhood of Accra, the capital of Ghana, the city where he and I and other of our colleagues have been working for the past decade or more. The neighborhood is also known as Sodom and Gomorrah and has been the gateway for migrants into the city who lack the resources to live elsewhere in the city.
Thousands of the slum dwellers who are mostly migrants from the northern part of the country were consequently rendered homeless, while scrap metals and make shift shops were also destroyed. The residents who are displeased with the demolition hit the streets on Monday to protest against the exercise.
Numo Blafo [the city's public relations officer] further explained that the removal of those structures was aimed at paving way for a major dredging exercise at the Korle Lagoon. According to him, about 100 structures from the Banks of the Lagoon to the Odaw were demolished to that effect, adding that work on the dredging of the river had already taken off.It may be only coincidental that this action occurred shortly after UN-Habitat announced a new project to build a planned extension of Accra in an area on the exact opposite side of town.
Right now, the Greater Accra Region is experiencing a rapid and unplanned urbanization process due to pressing influx of population and land speculation. Projections show that Accra will rapidly grow from approximately 2.5 million inhabitants to 4.2 million in the next ten years, and a large share of this growth is expected to be accommodated in the Ningo-Prampram District.
Ningo-Prampram District, located at a short commuting distance east from Accra, represents an unmatched opportunity to respond to unplanned urban sprawl of the capital and the whole region. Availability of land and international connectivity along the trans-national corridor from Abidjan to Yaoundé , the international airport and the access to the coastline make Ningo-Prampram a superb location for a planned city extension to provide adequate access to land, housing, economic activities and services for the growing population.And it may be only a coincidence that my analysis of census data for 2010 shows that Old Fadama has the highest proportion of Muslims of any neighborhood in Accra (69%) and the worst housing in the city.
Sadly, all of this turmoil comes at the same time that the Economist reported just this week on the growing fragility of the Ghanaian economy, perhaps caused by government overspending in anticipation of future oil revenues. The concern inside and outside of Ghana is that oil could push Ghana in the political direction of Nigeria and away from its long-time status as the model nation in the region.