AS a gross disregard for the country’s laws, some small, medium and large scale factories are operating from residential areas in parts of the capital city.
The factories are causing multiple problems to the residents of these areas because their activities are polluting the air and water bodies around, while noise from the operations of their equipment is a nuisance. Roads linking to some of the factories have also been badly affected because of the movement of trucks and heavy duty equipment.
Some of these factories, located in parts of Accra, are operated by foreign nationals, mainly Chinese entrepreneurs, who construct tall walls around the buildings from where they operate in a deliberate attempt to hide the illegal activities.
How they operate
GRAPHIC BUSINESS discovered that while the appropriate authorities with the mandate of protecting the environment sit unconcerned, some Chinese entrepreneurs increasingly overstep the loosely enforced limits prescribed by law to engage in illegal activities. Presently, they are rapidly setting up factories, some of them without the required permits, within residential areas across the capital city in violation of the Environmental Assessment (EA) Regulations (LI 1652).
These factories produce various goods ranging from travelling bags to roofing nails, washing powder, bathroom slippers and soap and are nuisances for the residents in areas such as Laterbiokoshie, Mamprobi, Dansoman, Nungua and Haatso.
These Chinese entrepreneurs rent houses on a long lease of up to 20 years and then reconstruct the walls of the houses, often increasing the height, to prevent neighbours from seeing their activities. These entrepreneurs usually bring workers from China to man such operations. Very few unskilled labour is left for locals who are employed on part time basis to engage in menial jobs.
A resident of Laterbiokoshie, Sampson Nii Lante, who lives close to a Chinese operated travelling bag manufacturing factory right in the middle of the community, said solid wastes from the factory are released into open drains in the residential area and that chokes them. The situation, he says, becomes even more grave when it rains because it causes the entire stretch of the road in front of the factory to flood.
He added that several heavy duty trucks ply the roads in the area daily to cart away bags produced at the factory and that had since left the road in a deplorable state.
“You can count several heavy trucks parked on the road every night waiting for their load; they are destroying the roads, you can see for yourself that this stretch of the road is more deplorable and it is because of their activities”, he stated.
Trouble brews in Dunkonah
In Dunkonah, where the West Hills Mall is located on the Accra–Winneba highway, residents have since the beginning of the year complained about activities of factories set up in the budding residential area.
Residents have been up in arms against the Ga South Municipal Assembly and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for granting permits to Sunda International and its subsidiary, Housemart Company Ltd, all Chinese companies, to operate a washing powder manufacturing plant and a steel factory in the area.
Residents said they were struggling to withstand the unbearable noise emanating from the steel factory, which operates all day and is hampering domestic activities in the community.
A resident of the area, Philip Ansah, told GRAPHIC BUSINESS that “the company has blocked a water path and built an iron rod factory in the watercourse but the authorities have done nothing about it.”
Dunkonah is supposed to be a planned residential area. The entire land was acquired and set aside by the government in 1993 to be developed into serviced plots strictly for residential occupation. Presently some estate developers, who have already invested money into purely residential developments in the area, are alarmed that the area is gradually losing its residential plan.
Environmental specialist reacts
In reaction to the upsurge of factories springing up in residential areas, an Environmental & Social Assessment Specialist and Director of Green Advocacy Ghana, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that concentrates on environmental protection awareness, Mr Yaw Amoyaw Osei, said it was a clear violation of the law for District Assemblies to issue permits for the construction of factories in residential areas.
“In the first place, it is a violation of the law for permits to be issued for the construction of factories in residential areas because when zoning communities, clear demarcations are made for sites of factories, be it light or heavy industries, and there are zones for commercial activities, so residential areas are strictly reserved for residential purposes,” he said.
He added that factories in residential areas could not be operating legally “because they require an environmental permit which can only be issued after an environmental assessment process is completed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).”
“You can only have a permit after going through the environmental assessment process and approval has been given, so in setting up a fuel station, for instance, the process requires that you consult with the neighbours in the area so that their concerns are addressed before a fuel station (and for that matter an industrial activity) is allowed in an area,” he added.