Regional News Mon, 22 Jul 2013

Security personnel face accommodation problems

Lack of decent accommodation for the security services in the Western Region is greatly affecting officers and their families who have no peace of mind to focus on their core duties.

The region is not only resource - rich, but also has the commands of all the security agencies, made up of the Ghana Army, the Ghana Air Force, the Ghana Navy and Ghana Police, Prisons and Immigration services.

However, officers of these agencies are stressed due to the limited accommodation to house thousands of officers and men, as well as their families, to enable them to have the peace of mind to protect national installations and ensure the safety of life and property in the region.

This, according to many of the personnel in the security agencies who pleaded anonymity, was so demoralising and sometimes makes them regret ever entering their respective services.

Those with barracks have very small cubicles with several cracks that they have to repair at their own expense, and those who cannot afford it are in structures that are almost collapsing.

At the moment, the abandoned railways single cubicle room quarters, built in the late 1920s, is currently housing hundreds of police personnel with ranks ranging from constable to chief inspectors in various parts of the metropolis.

Chunks of the structures have become a death trap to the occupants and their families.

When the Daily Graphic visited Effiakuma, a suburb of Takoradi, most of the structures had been affected by erosion and were hanging; occupants had to climb not less than eight or nine stairways from the grimy ground before entering their rooms.

Aside from that, the building was constructed with laterite and has only cement foundation, which has seriously been affected by erosion. It breaks off at will and mothers have to be alert to protect their children, especially during the rainy seasons. They have also no kitchen.

The reporter witnessed a sad situation; where the wife of a chief inspector who was cooking under a makeshift structure made up of palm fronds had to abandon the evening meal of the family due to the late afternoon downpour.

The occupants have no toilet and bathrooms. Out of their own pockets, they have joined some wood at the back of their dilapidated structures in which they hide and bath.

Wives or female officers have to wake up and bath early in the morning or bath late or they risk exposing their nakedness publicly.

The pit latrines, with bold inscriptions indicating male and female sections, are located in between the dilapidated structures and the air carries the strong stench to the various rooms.

Most of the structures at another location called Police Reserve, Kru-Quarters where the same railways facility house the officers, have developed serious cracks and pose a serious threat to the lives of the occupants.

The story of the other sister agencies – Ghana Navy, Ghana Prisons Service and Ghana Immigration Service – is not different, as the naval ratings have to rent accommodation from their own pockets.

Some of the navy chaps told the Daily Graphic they did not even want their families to visit them because their houses were not habitable.

The structure for the ratings, which started somewhere in 2008 at Kweikuma near the Sekondi High Court, is yet to be completed. Part of it is being worked on, while the rest has been taken over by weeds.

At the 2nd Battalion Infantry and the Takoradi Air Force Base, there are extensions to every building, ostensibly to create additional space to house increasing relatives.

At Fijai, last Wednesday, Senior Prisons Officers and their families were embarrassed as a frustrated landlord locked out officers and their families due to unpaid rent amounting to GH¢129,000.

It is important to note that there have been some efforts by the police administration and the army to create more rooms for the officers and men, but is it is not enough and something has to be done about it fast.
Source: Daily Graphic