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22.06.2004 Regional News

Women of Agyemankata protest against landfill project

By GNA

Accra, June 22, GNA - The Women of Agyemankata, a community living near the Kwabenya Landfill Project site on Tuesday protested against the project claiming "they would rather die than allow the landfill project to take over their land".

Addressing a press conference to register their protest, Ms Irene Gyau, their Spokesperson, said: "We women of Agyemankata will never leave our homes to be filled with refuse. We will never stay by a landfill too. Three million pounds sterling does not worth more than human beings."

Leading a large number of women from the community to register their protest, she said, the access road and the drainage system constructed by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly to the project site was an asset to the community and Ghana.

"If Alajo another Accra suburb, was to have such a drainage system we will not dredge the drains every year with loans from the World Bank, " she said.

Ms Gyau said the women would soon arrange to contact the UN High Commission for Human Rights on the issue: "Since our rights as women, our rights as property owners and our rights as citizens of mother Ghana was being trampled upon.

"We will resist the construction of the project and the consequences will be death. If a landfill is a legacy to bequeath to future generations then what about our homes?" Ms Gyau queried.

Asked why the women would not channel their grievances to the 20-member Technical Advisory Committee set up last Wednesday June 16, by the Ministry Of Local Government and Rural Development to delve into the issue surrounding the continuation of the Project, Ms Gyau said "it was rather too late for the Government to come in now".

Ms Gyau said the community had over the years appealed to the Government to intervene on their behalf to no avail, "we, therefore, see no reason why we should channel our grievances to a committee in which we have no confidence.

"All that we are reiterating is we do not want a landfill in our backyard," she said.

Ms Gyau said the women have sensitised their children on the dangers ahead of their parents.

The first phase of the project that began in July 2001 and ended in January 2002, involved the construction of access roads, a culvert and storm drains at a cost of about three million pounds sterling. The residents of Agyemankata, who are still putting up buildings in the area, have, however, vowed to continue to oppose the location of the landfill in the area, saying; "they would fight with any available means".

However, construction works at the site came to a halt following the first contractor, Taysec decision to leave the site upon a petition by the residents to the British High Commission to get Taysec off the site. Mr Kwadwo Adjei-Darko, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, who inaugurated the Committee, said recommendation for the Kwabenya Landfill site was made as far back as 1993, but "due to lack of funding the recommendation could not be implemented until late 2000..." He said since the completion of the first phase, efforts by the Government to solicit funding for the completion of the Project was not forthcoming until last year when the World Bank agreed to finance it under the proposed Second Urban Environmental Sanitation Project. Mr Adjei-Darko, therefore, appealed to all interested groups to desist from engaging in any act that had the potential to derail the work of the committee.

"Do not have entrenched position, because that would not help the nation. In life, every endeavour is a give and take, let us all sacrifice for our mother Ghana," he said.

The Committee, among its terms of reference are to determine the extent of encroachment on the land earmarked for the Project. Identify the underlying causes of the impasse between some residents at Kwabenya and the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) and the circumstances leading to the recent actions of some residents. It would also review all previous agreements, projects and programmes related to the development of the landfill. The Committee is expected to submit its report to the Ministry by Wednesday June 30, 2004.

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