Regional News of 2014-07-08

Blame political leaders for slums - Town & Planning Expert

Former President of the Ghana Institute of town Planners, Frank Tackie, has blamed the menace of slums on poor political leadership at the central, regional and district levels in the country.

Describing the situation as ‘a total mess and a crisis that gets worse by the day’ Mr Tackie said successive governments have failed to draw up a proper housing plan for the country.

He said this on Frank Tackie’s Take on Multi TV in a conversation with the President of the Ghana Institution of Engineers, Magnus Quashie and the Former President of the Institute of Architects, Osei Kwame Agyeman.

Mr Tackie blamed the upsurge of slums on economic factors that often lead to rural-urban drifts, mobility and access to transportation and social services, poor infrastructure as well as a poorly drafted urban policy which is not comprehensive enough and not broadly consulted.

According to him, in 1995, there was a World Bank urban project to upgrade three out of thirty-seven identified low-income communities in Accra. These areas were Sukura, Old Teshie and West Mamobi. The terms of reference, according to him, had to do with street lights, access roads limited to about four kilometres, major public drains and public toilets. After these projects, he maintained, nothing much had been done to tackle the slum menace.

In his contribution, Magnus Quashie said the quality of life for Ghana's citizenry would largely inform the type of settlement the leaders would allow to be put up, adding that if authorities continue to allow squatters to settle at certain places for long periods, they eventually develop into slums.

He admitted that it was difficult to upgrade slums in major cities and towns because there has been no planning for these settlements by the appropriate authorities.

Large parts of iconic cities such as Tema, Kumasi, Takoradi, Accra and others are gradually losing their boundaries because new settlements keep springing up, making it difficult to manage the infrastructure.

Close to the former seat of government, the Osu castle, is a huge squatter settlement which is gradually infiltrating into the center.

Mr. Agyeman said it was difficult to contain and regularise such situations, especially with the scarcity of land.

He urged Professionals in planning, architecture and engineering to take up roles in engaging and educating the citizenry on how to build modern settlements for the low-income and informal economy, since current policies and governance in this area has failed.