Welcome to Bortianor in the Ga South municipality of Ghana’s capital, Accra – and if you’ve never been here, you might as well come twice, as this iconic community – a microcosm of everything Ghanaian – will cease to exist one day in the near future.
Poor and hazardous roadways, persistent flooding exacerbated by insufficient drainage, and structures thrown anywhere – on waterways, landfills, and valleys – have rendered the community a gully town.
Everywhere you look, chaos is right around the corner. Buildings are on their knees and about to fall down, but their owners can’t do anything about it. The coming disaster is way out of their control.
Floods have cut gullies and trenches under almost every building in this highly crowded community in the Ngleshie-Amanfro district, which is a hotbed of political activity during election years. This has left concrete buildings in precarious places on stilts. Some people even think the district is a split one, since the two biggest parties in the country, the NDC and the NPP, have been given permission to fly their flags here.
David Andoh, an expert photographer, saw a short film of people in Bortianor (Adansiman) getting to their homes by going down and up long ladders in a gully that looks like a storm drain. This made him want to find out what was going on.
And what he saw, which is shown in the photos he brought back, shows that Bortianor is not only losing its shine, but also its soul.
Residents said that after heavy rains, flash floods killed a number of school children. In the Red Top-Abuom and Aplaku neighbourhoods, walls have fallen, roads have been eaten away and building supports are now visible.
Planks that could break under heavy weights are all over the town and lead to shops where people can buy things. But the whole thing looks bad and is dangerous, so many property owners have given up on their investments.
The famous West Hills Mall, the production company Zonda International, and the Finny Fertility Hospital are all in the same town of Bortianor. Most of the time, it’s a good choice for people who want to live in the middle or higher classes, mostly because of the weather and the greenery. The rolling landscape adds to its beauty.
What used to be a beautiful three-story building in the neighbourhood of Baba Dogo is now a haunted house. This is a good example of the damage that years of unplanned growth have done to Accra’s back yard.
All of the Bortianor enclave is in Accra’s earthquake zone, and the area cannot continue to grow without being planned, organised, and watched.
Some of the locals said that their pleas to the government to help them haven’t worked, so Monday through Friday, school children have to walk through these traps of roads, planks, and hanging structures to get to school.
But that beauty is becoming less and less. Some homes are getting cut off from the places around them.
The stories are so common that they sound like a chorus. Kobina Mensah Odoom is sad that a road in front of his house, which used to be open to both business and personal cars, is now closed.
Many of them live in the area and have to park their cars in faraway spots every day. They then have to walk the rest of the way to and from work.
Every rainstorm makes things worse.
Amelia, the owner of Insha Allah Food Joint at Broadcasting Alhaji Junction, said that her customers take a lot of risks to come to her restaurant. Sometimes, especially when it rains, those risks stop them from coming, she said.
Richard Bulley lives in a badly damaged house near the Old Bortianor-Kokrobite road in Aplaku. He is upset that the city government hasn’t responded to his requests for help.
He said that they tried to save the situation by building a wall around the house, but the amount of water that flows through the area destroyed the first work.
Kwadwo Okordieh, a welder at Red Top JB, said that erosion is making it hard for him to keep his business going. Because of the deep gullies, the road in front of his workshop that goes to J.B. Last Stop has been stopped, so no one can see what he has made.
Akwasi Agyapong, who lives in Broadcasting near the Light House Church, said that water flowing from a deep ditch broke down the fence wall of a neighbour and killed one person.
Bismarck Gyan, who lives in Red Top, said he spent a lot of money on dirt and cement to fix a broken road near his house. However, the fast-moving water from the ditches washed everything away.
Mr. Gyan says that people from the Ga South Municipal Assembly have been coming to the village, but nothing has come of it.
In an interview, Mr Joseph Nyarni Stephen, the head of the Ga South Municipal, said that he took a team of Urban Roads Engineers to the community to check out the situation and help the assembly find a solution.
He asked the people to be patient and said that the assembly would start working in the neighbourhood in a few weeks to fix the problems.