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Mosque and Settlement Demolished for Norwegian Cement Industry

The partly Norwegian-owned cement company Ghacem has several hundred people breathing down its neck. Tempers boiled over after 500 people lost their homes and their mosque last week. The area was cleared to make room for Ghacem’s operations. A demonstration against Ghacem has been warned for this week.
Artikkelen er mer enn to år gammel. Ting kan ha endret seg.
The partly Norwegian-owned cement company Ghacem has several hundred people breathing down its neck. Tempers boiled over after 500 people lost their homes and their mosque last week. The area was cleared to make room for Ghacem’s operations. A demonstration against Ghacem has been warned for this week.

(This text was published in Norwegian on 11 Feb 2008)

By Erik Hagen and Mike Anane

In the middle of the final stages of the African Cup in football in Ghana, the local subsidiary of the Norwegian company Scancem wound up in rough weather.

About 500 people who had been living in wooden houses on the front side of the Ghacem factory by Tema harbour were last week ordered out of the area by the local police. Their houses were razed.

"Representatives from the company arrived together with a private security company, some policemen, and a tractor. They tore down everything here, including the mosque," Said Awudu Abdulai, the mosque’s official, told Norwatch’s special correspondent.

"Last week, Ghacem officials just brought in their own private security, some policemen and a tractor. They just tore down everything here, including the mosque" said Awudu Abdulai overseer of the mosque.

One of the residents was shocked at the demolition of the mosque. “This is barbaric. I cried out when I saw what they had done to our place of worship, we have know where to worship now” said Shakal one of the affected muslims.

According to people on the spot, the mosque was built 25 years ago. One of those who had been ordered out of the area said that most of the residents had lived there and worked as drivers for 15 years, and that they help transport cement to various parts of the country. Some of the residents also trade in cement, it was explained.

When Norwatch’s correspondent arrived in Tema harbour during the weekend, several dozen people had gathered around the demolished mosque. They warned that they would carry out a demonstration against Ghacem later this week.   

Will Compensate for Mosque
Morten Gade, managing director of Ghacem, related by telephone from Ghana that the area is owned by the local harbour authorities; a few weeks ago, however, the company entered into a rental agreement with the authorities. One part of the agreement was that they had to look for alternatives for the settlement and the mosque.

"Our trucks have used the area for parking. The area has in addition been used by illegal settlers, who have lived in simple shacks. Since it hasn’t been ours, we haven’t been able to do anything about the settlements," Gade told Norwatch.

According to Gade, an agreement was last week entered into with the local population. He said that it simultaneously was promised that the company would donate cement to build a new mosque in the immediate proximity.

A local Ghacem manager, George Dawson-Amoah, told the Ghanaian newspaper Daily Guide on Thursday that the company now plans to upgrade the harbour area, so that there will be more and better space for the trucks to unload the cement. This will result in fewer accidents, according the director.

Daniel Ansong Denkyi, vice-superintendent of the local police, told the same newspaper that the settlers already had been given a deadline of 2 February for leaving the area but that they nevertheless had not left.

Ghacem was established in 1967 as a partnership between the Ghanaian government and Scancem’s predecessor, Norcem. Today Scancem is owned by the German corporation Heidelberg, and its activities in Africa are run by the offices at Lysaker, outside Oslo.