Recyhub opposes the demolition of Agbogbloshie

On the morning of Saturday July 20th several bulldozers entered the slum of Old Fadama and the scrapyard of Agbogbloshie and destroyed up to 80% of them. As a result, more than 20.000 people were left without a home. You can find a detailed report of what happened that day from Axel Monin Nylund, from the social enterprise African Solar LLP: Demolition exercise, forced evictions, fire outbreak, and rainfall.

We would like to state that:

We totally oppose the demolition of Agbogbloshie. Ironically, on the World Refugee Day, the government of Accra destroyed a slum and put 20.000 people on the streets. It happened in the middle of the rainy season, and those people didn’t have a place to go. It happened during the first night of Ramadan and the affected population are mostly Muslim. Although the local government says that the reason for the demolition was to clear space to prevent floods, this is highly questionable. The place has been for many years under the threat of eviction, threats that had intesified in the previous year, and now, with the excuse of the floods, it has been finally destroyed. Instead of clearing a space of 5-10 meters around the river, they have cleared hundreds.

Evicting a population doesn’t solve anything, it just moves the problem to a different area. Scrap dealers will probably not leave Accra.

The government had prepared a new market area in a place called Adjen Kotoku, 36 km away from Accra. It doesn’t make any sense to relocate commercial activities (onion market, yam market, scrap yard) so far from the capital, because no one would go there to buy food anymore, and scrap collectors can’t push their cars for an extra 72km per day, as they buy their material from Accra. On top of that, Agbogbloshie dwellers complain that they won’t be able to pay the rents in Adjen Kotoku. That’s why they have chosen to live in a slum, because it’s the only place they can afford.

There is still an economic demand for e-waste processing, so scrap dealers might just find new places where to carry out their work. Cable burning is not likely to end, it will probably be just redistributed throughout the city.

The Accra Metropolitan Assembly should have considered Agbogbloshie as a recycling centre, as an economic area that employs many people and needs development. Agbogbloshie workers are skilled, and they should have been helped. That’s the approach that developmental organisations and social enterprises take: to empower those at the bottom, investing on skills, respecting the people, and working from the bottom up. Agbogbloshie had many problems, social, environmental, and economic, and a solution needed to address all three in a sustainable way.