Thursday, April 24, 2014

SUITE OR SLUM

Ha!!! No more slums!!!

 According to some estimates, 80% of Ghana's urban dwellers live in slums. At about $20,000 each, affordable housing units are not going to be  affordable to many. The pick between suite and slum is becoming more tough and an unemployed person migrating to Accra will surely chose the latter .   

 The usual sermon on the pulpits of our politicians include education, jobs, economic sustenance without paying much attention to the construction of the sub communities that make up the country.

Is it that MPs from slum infested areas are too burdened with the "herculean"  task of representing the people to the extent that they forget about their living conditions? Or can we also attribute the cause of the problem to the citizens of the slums. Truth be told, our tolerance to the slums has created an aura of acceptance of slums by our stake holders.

The essential question is whether citizens of these slums have a right to demand a better place of habitation. Or is there a need for national sensitization on the issue to lessen the challenge on Ghana's regeneration schemes to keep up with the rising housing deficit. Or does the growing increase in accommodation costs take away the right of a low income earning citizen to refuse to live in a slum?



 A look at the definition of a slum in the Merriam Webster Dictionary gives a vivid insight in to its undignified nature. It is defined as a densely populated, usually urban area marked by crowding, dirty run-down housing, poverty and social disorganization. Quite unfit for human inhabitation eh!!!!! Sadly, Wikipedia has an interesting list of  Ghanaian slums. The list is a  depiction of how much we know our problems and how little we have done to solve them so far. Not something we should be proud of.

Article 15(b) of the 1992 constitution provides for the protection of human dignity. Article 33(5) also provides for the inclusion of any right which is inherent in a democracy and intended to secure the freedom and dignity of man. Chapter 6 on the directive principles of state policy also sets out certain objectives that serve as a guide to government’s goals in ensuring that the needs of the people are met. If the provisions in Chapter 6 are fully applied, it would go a long way to indirectly and progressively change the stories of the citizens of slums in Ghana. Based on a combination of these provisions a person can argue strongly that citizens of Ghana have the right to refuse to live in slums. However to rights there are duties.

building collapseWhat if the issue is beyond the enforcement of the law, what if it’s the attitude of the people? Maybe some people find it stressful to abide by the proper rules set out for planning and building structures for housing in our communities. Maybe the citizens are not doing their duty to the state. In the directive state principles the duties of citizens are also boldly written out.
I find it very difficult to understand why any citizen of Ghana will want to, or enjoy living in a slum. Even if a person is not claustrophobic, am pretty sure they would like to avoid possibly dying of a contagious disease or under a collapsing building as we have seen recently.  

The fatal possibilities of the slums are just too onerous to ignore.  It is unpleasant to write about how some Ghanaians refuse to heed to the laws on housing planning or even the AMA'S regulations before they build a house or a store right in front of their neighbors door. And yet claim rights under the ambit of the law. However, that does not detract from the fact that demolishing structures or let me be straight!. Destroying someone's house is very distressing and so the issues of slums being the better choice to suite's must be prevented and not left to the mercy of our failing and depressing cures.


To conclude,real estate businesses in Ghana are faring very well and the upper class enjoys the benefits of the percentage increases that accrue in the resale of houses. To prevent the growth of slums our government should probably consider collaborating with real estate dealers to subsidize the cost of housing in the country. Employers could also build structures and charge reduced fees for employee's. With all this said if the state of the economy is too weak and cannot provide the basic structures for an average citizen to generate enough income through business to build a house,there will still be a burden on the state. 
In the same light the citizens have a duty to abhor the slums and protest against it,before they can make a case to resist slums. To change this,it is going to take the collective effort of entrepreneurs,the government,ethical building constructors and the citizens. But in the end it will be a  battle worth the fight.