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03.05.2005 General News

Disorder, Battle Leaves Cemetery Corpses Exposed

By The Independent

The Mile 11 cemetery along the Accra-Winneba road reveals a scary and horrifying scene of human skulls, because corpses have been left lying in very shallow graves of the cemetery by the operatives of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) and some big hospitals in the Accra metropolis.

Visitors to the cemetery and passers-by are met with the pungent stench of putrefying human flesh from mass graves, which are polluting the air in the neighbourhood around the Akwasa Cemetery. In view of this, the people of the Akwasa neighbourhood and New Bortianor, popularly known as Mile 11 are now grappling with an imminent epidemic of great proportion, if immediate steps are not taken to avert it. This situation has arisen as a result of a battle between the AMA and the local Chief, Nii Saka, over the ownership of the land on which the cemetery is located.

While the AMA says the land was donated to it by the Bortianor stool as cemetery some 35 years ago, Nii Saka maintained in an interview with The Independent that the land belongs to Bortianor and cannot be given away for free. "The AMA cannot claim ownership over that parcel of land," he told newsmen. The Chief also charged at AMA and accused them of not burying dead bodies properly in the event of mass burials, which is being undertaken by the AMA periodically. The Chief also said the manner in which dead bodies are buried eventually rather exposes the corpses on the surface of the land. A visit by newsmen to the cemetery established that the style of burial of corpses had indeed exposed the dead bodies with the unbearable stench emanating from the rotten bodies making it difficult for people living in the area to breath.

The Independent found out too, that the digging of the graves is not done properly as it does not go deep enough to conceal the body. A local who spoke to The Independent on condition of anonymity said the stench of rotten human flesh was unbearable in the area and added that it is much worse when it rains.

The Independent found out during investigations that the corpses are primarily from the large Accra hospitals, which are not obliged to keep dead bodies in their mortuaries for more than four weeks - the time relatives have to go for their dead relations. The mass graves are also used to dispose of surgical waste from the hospitals, this reporter found out. "It makes people sick and it worries all the people around here. The Government has plenty of land. Why don't they take the mass graves to the bush?" Chief Nii Saka asked.

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