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When I was working at the features department of the Daily Graphic, the receptionist called one morning to say there was a man waiting in the visitor’s area downstairs to see me. I was met by a slightly-built man of average height in his early 30s, who looked a bit distraught and staggered on his feet. Although it was only late morning, he had clearly had one tot of the famous local gin too many, and reeked like a distillery. His eyes were bloodshot.

The receptionist and a few people around stared at us mwith undisguised curiosity as we stared at each other, the visitor and I. He called out my name with a slur and attempted a grin. Then it hit me hard and I gasped: He had been a classmate at Teacher Training College in the Northern Region in the late 1960s. I remembered him as a crack hockey player on the college hockey team. He had been a leading member of the youth wing of one of the factions in the Kokomba-Nanumba war which broke out in 1994 and killed about 2,000 people.

He had watched many friends and relatives killed and managed to flee with his life. He ended up as a refugee at a camp set up at Old Fadama in Accra to settle people fleeing the war in the Northern Region. A trained teacher who had lived a reasonably comfortable life at home for years, he now found himself homeless, penniless and living in a filthy urban slum without hope and the blue kiosk had become his favourite haunt.

The history of Sodom and Gomorrah has it that migrant squatters from other regions of Ghana evicted by city authorities from various parts of the Accra, subsequently kept trooping to the slum to join the settlers from up North.

Political administration and after political administration found it expedient not to see the urban development monster growing and growing by the year, until the full-blown creature became the urban development planner’s ultimate nightmare: Unsanitary, congested, unsightly and filthy Ghana’s largest slum of more than 70, 000 people came to be associated with vice, sexual promiscuity, prostitution, drug abuse and crime.

Demolish this slum and you will lose chunks of electoral votes, it was whispered to every successive government. The destruction of the slum this week will make room for the development of infrastructure more befitting of modern capital but it has also left in its wake thousands of people who need to be resettled. It is a responsibility the state cannot shirk.

By the way, Jomo, I wonder how come that, today the mayor of Accra is Dr Alfred Okoe Vanderpuije, tomorrow he becomes plain Mr Vanderpuije and the day after that, the mayor is back to being the distinguished Dr Vanderpuije all over again, thanks to a media which cannot make up its mind about the man’s correct title.

Sorry, old chap we are talking about the destruction of the nation’s largest slum and a mayor called Mr Vanderpuije and not and about academic letters: From scraping loads of solid refuse and other debris and waste from drains and disused lots to chasing street hawkers and people defecating in the open, Mayor Vanderpuije has gone to all lengths to make his beloved city spin, span and orderly.

On more than one occasion, he set out to take into custody, every single one of the unruly multitude of cattle, pigs, goats, sheep and other stray ruminants roaming his millennium city, obstructing the flow of motor traffic and littering the streets  of the great city with foul dung,

Having now demolished the infamous Sodom and Gomorrah shanty town, we wait to see what will happen in the case of other properties which belong to some of the most influential and powerful people in the land!

The Lands Commission once reported that some projects have encroached between 17 and 68 feet onto the reserved zone of the Tema Motorway: The Trassaco Valley, Accra's Beverly Hills, the famous Action Chapel, the MTN Warehouse and the Baff Estate Warehouse.

Outside the city’s choice upmarket residential areas with plush, sprawling mansions and skyscrapers, Accra is actually one huge expanse of very crowded, high density areas with little or no space.

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