Construction of a Harbor in Jamestown – A Classic Case of Industrialization without Developing people. A contradiction?

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View of part of Jamestown environs

Construction of a Harbor in Jamestown – A Classic Case of Industrialization without Developing people.  A contradiction?

There are ten locations named Jamestown in the entire world. From Jamestown in California, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Australia and others.

Today’s focus on Jamestown which is located in Ghana, the center of hospitality and historical sites. Occupying in the east of Korle Lagoon, Jamestown is one of the ancient districts in the hearts of Accra, Ghana. It is known as a community on the Gulf of Guinea coast.

Today, Jamestown continues to exist as a predominantly fishing community inhabited mostly by the Ga people, full of colonial buildings which are popular tourist destinations for people to observe and site seeing.

In December 2018, Jamestown was thrown into the media limelight in the event of a sod cutting for the construction of a new Harbor.

According to Ghana Web and DredgingToday.com, during the sod cutting event, the President of Ghana made mention of the fact that the construction of the harbor is made possible by a $60 million grant from the Chinese government.

Another news story shared via the Ghana News Agency website further highlighted that Ghana and China signed agreements totaling $66 million to support the Jamestown Fishing Port Complex and the implementation of projects, including the second phase of the University of Health and Allied Sciences.

The Chinese government’s grants to construct a port in Jamestown is a step that has multiple implications. I am of the view that, the construction of the Harbor will destroy the traditional livelihoods, as well as damage the historic architecture of the environment. It will drastically change not only the tangible fabric of this historic town, but also impact the fishing methods, market traders and community that depend on the sea.

Earlier this year, a billboard was suddenly erected on the beach displaying an “artist’s impression” of how the beach is to be developed. The image show’s the beach completely cleared of its inhabitants. There’s also a large car park and a series of somewhat bland sheds or factories. There is not one single canoe in sight. This will have implications, some of which are not difficult to guess. It’s a business venture for the rich and disaster to the indigenous community.

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Billboard erected on beach

 The harbor at Accra’s district of Jamestown was built to provide shelter from the heavy surf that pounds this part of the coast. The breakwater and pier were equipped with railway tracks, gantries and cranes to handle the large produce exports following the cocoa boom of the early 1900s. The wealth created from this trade saw some fine buildings being built. An array of warehouses, stores and villas survive (some very precariously) in Jamestown to this day.

The fundamental question arising from this – what are the underlying motives behind the Chinese government funding these projects and what are the consequences for the working community of James Town?

These were the views from people when asked to share their concern on the issue:

“The Chinese government is finding ways and means to divide and control the world as a way of challenging United States hegemony. They have a strong agenda of taking over Africa which was road mapped a decade ago, they are not helping us but trapping us.”

“For me I think because they want to control some movement of the government through this financial support”

“We all know why they do that but then we should be clear about why they gave that and how they intend to indirectly get the money back”

“Apart from France, UK and US, the fourth nation dominating African continent is China. The kind gesture of foreigners should not be taken as kind but a way to expand their economies.”

“This new harbor they are funding represents the international trade relationship we have with China but there might be some strings attached or China is trying to win us over (Africa) so it’s a strategy they are using and the effects will be seen later.”

Looking beyond this issue, I realized that probably the end of the project will benefit the few rich individuals in the country looking at the emerging issue of gentrification in the country – existing communities are targets of the capitalist development model, which is basically development at the top. This could be the case of the construction of a harbor in Jamestown.

Gentrification is when a neighborhood cosmetically improves so that it creates better opportunities for the middle class – in the case of Ghana, the few rich individuals.

Already, some parts of Jamestown has been demolished due to the construction of the harbor, causing destruction but however, the people are under the false impression that the new harbor if completed will create a thousand jobs for them which will improve their living conditions.

With regards to the fact that the community is tagged as a low income residence, the harbor project sounds positive but there is a thin line that makes the beneficiaries unclear. The harbor after it completion will shift the low income community into a sophisticated community with increasing cost of living: expensive housing, businesses will take advantage of the development at the expense of the community.

Improved resources which will increase the economic value of Jamestown but can force out the people due to a perceived cost of rent and higher cost of goods.

In the last six months eviction processes have started to clear the beach. My recommendation will be an earnest plea for this proposal to be rethought – and for this fascinating part of the city to be regenerated in a way that celebrates and respects the history and people of Jamestown.

 

13 Comments

  1. Our people, their livelihood and to an extent our history must be considered in such ‘facelifting’ projects. Your fundamental question is also worth pondering over. Great stuff 👍

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Mmmmmmmmmmm, am much impressed with the whole idea from the both Governments .Buh my question is why are they are not considering the indigneous people of jamestown buh for their own self interest? . I leave my hands still raise high up for someone to answer me this question oneday……

    Liked by 3 people

  3. At long last, I’ve read your piece, it’s a good one.
    But I think that there would be no development if we cant forgo some vital stuff in this country.
    Although we need to preserve our culture, In terms of economic development, it’s a great gain. Every country wants to develop, think of the revenue the government would earn from the construction of the harbor to finance the construction of roads, free shs, school feeding, etc. to the benefit of all.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Good read.. terrific job.

    Firstly, I think your gentrification point is quite strong and you can go ahead and use this Jamestown community as a basis to open up how much damage capitalism is doing to this continent since you appear to be a socialist or at the barest minimum, an Nkrumaist. (But that’s probably for another day/article).

    Also, I think you wrote the piece like a real journo(relax, it’s not a bad thing.)… explaining the situation at hand in detail but failing to explore your idea of the solution for the problem.

    Furthering that point, I think your solution won’t cut it. No.. that’s not the phrase. Let me rephrase: Your solution is not realistically possible. You mention canoes, so I’ll take it that you are referring to fishing. Personally, I believe allowing these companies will open such communities up for different sort of employment opportunities and this will help local fishing families because we have seen previous governments create Ministries for fisheries, witnessed Ministries of Agriculture try to educate fishermen on improving their methods, we have seen the World Bank develop programs to eliminate poverty in coastal fishing communities along West Africa and yet these communities still wallow in the poverty.

    ….aaaand we’re back to “Capitalism”.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Points well made
      Like your submission mine was also an opinion and I feel it’s too late now for government to rethink through this project looking at what has been done already.
      For a better solution to this issue, do you have anything in mind???

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Wonderfully articulated. Happening in many places around the world. We need to understand that nobody is a saint. And take control of our lives. Millions of original inhabitants could be ‘developed’ out of their independent, self-determined existence through assembly lines jobs. But at least they will have air-conditioners. At least they will be able to eat McDonald’s burgers. And so on. Unfortunately, it may be too late. Millions will be seduced by the glitter, and happy to let others think for them. That way they don’t have to take responsibility..

    Liked by 1 person

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