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Our Tale of Woe at East Airport Residential Area
 
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30-May-2011  
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The northern limits of Martey-Tsuru also called East Airport Residential Area lie on the now improving Spintex Road and southward along the Accra Tema railway line. Its western boundary abuts on Ghana Civil Aviation lands, whilst its eastern fringes are along the stream which threads its way along Papaye’s wall.

As you drive along Spintex Road from the Tetteh Quarshie interchange, it nestles to your right of a 1.6km stretch which begins at Oak Plaza Hotel and ends at Papaye’s western wall. Primarily a residential area, its eastern portion features an area zoned “light commercial area”. What that means in an otherwise potentially fine residential area, I leave to your imagination.

I must begin this attempt at drawing attention to our plight by stating the fact that LEKMA repeatedly assures us, residents, property owners and indigenes of Martey-Tsuru that East Airport/Martey-Tsuru Residential Area is the crown jewel of its jurisdiction. LEKMA also insists that it will go to lengths protect it from the fate that has befallen most of Accra’s residential area and do its utmost to help develop it. Yet it has, save for marking unauthorised kiosks and containers in our neighbourhood ‘REMOVE!’ with its ubiquitous and largely ignored red paint, done little to improve our lot. Add to that, annually after the rains, LEKMA, after weeks of pleas and prompting, grades a few of our major roads. Good intentions LEKMA may have, but its inertia has left us: residents of Martey-Tsuru, at the mercy of, and defenceless against squatters, thugs and impunity.

Our neighbourhood is under siege from squatters who are settling in our neighbourhood in droves, placing kiosks everywhere, tapping electricity and water illegally, etc. Of the 16 (sixteen) km of road which criss-cross our neighbourhood, only 600 metres (Mama Adele Road) is tarred. This short stretch from Sonitra to the railway line which separates us from, and leads to our ‘posher’, caged, subjugated neighbours at Airport Hills was suddenly and hurriedly graded, gravelled and tarred in record time early in 2009. Rumours abound for why this job was frenetically undertaken. I will not discuss that. However, I hope the story which came up later about Lister Hospital constructing the road because of its MRI machine is the true one. We thought this speedy, efficient job was a foretaste of things to come. How wrong we were.

A few drains totalling about 1km along some roads in Marteyman, (presumably where the votes are) and perhaps in fulfilment of a political promise were constructed about five years ago. The roads were gravelled. Five (5) years on, the roads have not been tarred! Why? Residents of East Airport/Martey-Tsuru, acting through the East Airport (Martey-Tsuru) Residents Association have continuously implored LEKMA and the Department of Urban Roads (DUR) to do something about our dusty, crater filled roads, which are wrecking our cars. Nothing has been done, except that once a year after countless phone calls a few ‘select’ roads are graded. Now there is nothing left to grade as years of grading and erosion have exposed water pipelines. LEKMA, now, autonomous from AMA, must implement its noble plan of constructing drains and roads in Martey-Tsuru. LEKMA please get your plans “off the drawing board” and out of “the pipeline”! Act!

According to AMA’s own ratings, Martey-Tsuru is a first class residential area. Property owners and those lawfully resident here pay property rates and for electricity and water, however erratically supplied. We demand protection from LEKMA and the security agencies. LEKMA must quickly carry out its three year old threat and REMOVE! squatters and kiosks from our neighbourhood. It must carry out its promises to lawful residents of Martey-Tsuru. LEKMA must resolve, and in perpetuity ensure, that the fate of other first class residential areas like Airport Residential Area and Labone does not befall us. It must say “AS FOR MARTEY-TSURU NO WAY FOR KIOSKS, CONTAINERS, BUILDING CODE INFRINGEMENTS AND UNAUTHORISED SHOPS”. Salifu Amankwaa, unorthodox though his methods were, managed to restore law and order at Kwame Nkrumah Circle. Years after he left the area and was in prison, order still prevailed and hawkers avoided selling on the pavements. LEKMA can do it.

Our Association, The East Airport (Martey-Tsuru) Residents Association and the elders and people of Marteyman are willing and ready to assist LEKMA achieve this. LEKMA must rise above politics, confront the problem and help us build a true residential area. LEKMA: “BE BOLD!” Look at Labone now: Once a peaceful oasis, our city authorities, unclear what “development” means, swayed by measly building permit fees, unable to enforce and pliable to bending building regulations and naively impressed by any building with cheap glass windows, have allowed banks and two storey blocks of shops to spring up everywhere. It’s ugly. Labone’s main artery, Josiah Tongogara Street is no different from Osu’s smelly main street, Cantonments Road aka Oxford St. Must there be banks in Labone, when Osu is 2km away? East Legon’s Lagos Avenue once a truly blissful “avenue” is now a commercial Okaishie-like street with two storey shops, banks, noisy drinking bars, used car lots, vegetable, roasted plantain and second hand clothes sellers lining both sides of the street for miles.

This is not “development”. A friend scoffs at the Nyaho Clinic road (Senchi St.) calling it “the real Airport-City”.
We do not need this type of “development” in East Airport. It is a residential area. Period! LEKMA, AMA, Government of Ghana, whoever is in charge, fashion a blueprint to show that a residential area can remain a residential area without being walled and gated like a prison. This is not elitism. It is not about being insensitive to the plight of others. It is about nipping a problem in the bud and being determined to comply with our own rules. We must be able to have a neighbourhood in which all; ‘high and low’, know the laws, realize that impunity will not be tolerated and that breaches will result in sanctions. When you have drawn up this blueprint, IMPLEMENT IT WITHOUT FEAR OR FAVOUR!

Politicians, prove to us that on your needless, frequent travels abroad after which you relay the marvels of Malaysia and Singapore to us, that you’ve learnt something and have the willpower devoid of politics to implement it. There’s vague talk of making our neighbourhood a model area. It won’t happen if the “YOU CAN’T’s and DON’T’s” aren’t spelt out clearly and unambiguously to residents and property owners high and low. It won’t happen if LEKMA doesn’t realize it has immense powers to make it happen. It won’t happen if LEKMA doesn’t realize that Kuala Lumpur and Singapore City are the marvels they are because their city authorities have balls! Even in Soweto’s aluminium shanties there is order but not Accra’s residential areas.

Who are the legal occupants of Martey-Tsuru and Marteyman? Does this group include scores of new squatters who are emboldened by LEKMA’s unwillingness and inability to evict them? Since LEKMA’s weak order three years ago (on 19/2/09) to the squatters to remove their kiosks within two weeks of that date nothing has happened. Squatters are invading our neighbourhood by the truckload. Squatters are not legal residents of Martey-Tsuru and LEKMA must help us evict them.
We must do the right thing. When squatters take their kiosks to an unauthorised new location, they leave them unoccupied for a few weeks to see if they will meet with any resistance. Most of the time, they don’t. Thus encouraged they move in, at first quietly. Then they grow wings with time. In Ghana we allow wrongs things to persist and when they calcify and we try to remedy it, its proponents fight back as “their rights” are being violated.

In 2009, a portion of the proposed dual carriageway which will lie parallel to Spintex Road was quickly annexed by developers who built frantically. LEKMA and the Department of Urban Roads (DUR) vowed to demolish these houses then largely at their foundation stages, insisting that the houses were in the path of the said road. They couldn’t. These houses have now been completed, their owners having spent a fortune hurriedly building them. Families live in them. LEKMA and DUR have lost the moral right to demolish them. They have also lost the legal right to demolish them by reason of acquiescence. However LEKMA must immediately and without fear or favour ensure those property owners/developers who built their walls beyond the “recommended limits” into Nii Martey-Tsuru Road (Lynn’s Spot Road) tear them down and rebuild them to conform to the legal limit, whatever it is! The audacity of these builders is not more manifest in the fact that some of them, having previously built walls facing the main street which runs the entire length of our neighbourhood, tore down these walls and rebuilt them beyond the “agreed” limits and annexed a few more feet of the main road.

Perhaps the most flagrant violation must be that of a non-law abiding lawyer who tore down his wall and moved it 10ft into the road which leads into our neighbourhood from Spintex. What was a wall is now a glass fronted shop which has created a blind spot at a T-junction and is endangering motorists and pedestrians. It is quite like an empty funeral parlour and is an ugly blot on our landscape. A quite errant trespass on public property and probably the most blatant building code violation in our neighbourhood, but countless calls to LEKMA’s ‘powerless’ officers to arrest this illegality just when it commenced were unheeded. Even illiterate residents are astounded at this brazen, senseless breach but LEKMA has let it be. This lawyer who has permanently trespassed on 10’ X 60’ of a public road, paid ECG to remove their electricity pole ‘out of the way’ for him to build his tacky, senseless building in a public street.

Shame ECG! Shame LEKMA! But by far his worst affront to our collective sensibilities was when on my return from World Cup duty the road leading up to our estate from Spintex Road inexplicably been blocked with bollards. There had been no notice to us. Several calls to DUR to ascertain why the main and only relatively pothole free entry route to our neighbourhood had been suddenly shut off yielded no sensible, logical, public interest answer. Countless nagging calls to DUR established that the bugger’s silly, misguided collaborators at DUR caused the bollards to be put there at taxpayers’ expense, without notice to residents and to our pain and discomfort for about six weeks.

I was quietly told to remove them! I did. Shame DUR!
The other severe nuisance which LEKMA and the EPA must confront is the structure which houses The Ebenezer Miracle Worship Temple, a noisy bastion which straddles two residential plots of land. The plots are zoned as “residential” land. This church’s noisy adherents litter our neighbourhood with sachet water bags and urinate in the open. Can’t they be stopped? I’m certain by now some rogue elements at LEKMA/AMA have connived with this church to fraudulently alter the ‘land use’ for those plots. I accidentally discovered that EPA had recommended that the church installed windows to ensure that “the noise is minimised”. EPA should have “eliminated” the nuisance by saying; “Ebenezer you cannot have a church here!” That, and not “minimise the noise” should have been EPA’s solution and LEKMA’s sanction.

These are but a few of the problems we face at Martey-Tsuru. Our problems are legion. Our electricity supply is no different from the rest of Ghana so I cannot gripe about it, but the current to our homes is often so low a microwave won’t work.

Something’s got to be done... Do we have an MP?

 
 
 
Source: Johnny Blukoo-Allotey
 
 

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