Development of community parks into AstroTurf within the Tema Metropolis is a necessary developmental gesture but residents do not benefit although they are the reason for such constructions.
The parks, which were constructed under the leadership of the Member of Parliament (MP) for Tema Central, Mr. Kofi Brako, make residents wonder whether the Tema authorities have achieved their aim of unearthing and nurturing talents within the metropolis as well as promote good health and tourism with the development of the parks.
This was made known to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) by some residents of the Tema Metropolis who expressed misgivings about how projects that were supposed to benefit the communities were otherwise utilized.
According to residents, all community parks which have been given facelift with FIFA certified artificial green grass, have been fenced with metal wires and put under lock and key, preventing community members from accessing them.
A resident of Community Nine, who pleaded anonymity, said that, “all attempts by the youth in the area to use the Community Nine market park to play football proved futile until they agreed to pay an undisclosed amount of money to unidentified persons.”
The Community Seven VALCO Park, which is in the heart of the community, has also been fenced and locked up.
Residents who kicked against the installation of Astroturf at the VALCO Park argued that the place could have rather been used as a community space with features like playgrounds, walking paths, irrigated lawns, birdlife, etc., with adequate seating , which would be a community recreational area.
They added that community parks provided recreational areas for residents and helped to enhance the beauty and environmental quality of neighbourhoods rather than the fenced Astro Turfs with limited access.
They cautioned that ‘community sense’ was declining throughout the Metropolis and this decline was attributed to the lack of public access to safe, open and green spaces.
One of the residents, Mr Joseph Sackey, in a sentimental outburst, said, “We can’t even have large funerals. No spaces for church crusades; even political parties themselves have no spaces for rallies within the metropolis. Instead, they match on roads causing heavy vehicular traffic.”
Another resident, Daniel Acheampong, expressed sadness over the locking up of the Astroturf parks “which gives some persons the right to demand money from residents before they could use the facility for games. These parks even come with no seating arrangement.”
Mr Frank Asante, Public Relations Officer of Tema Metropolitan Assembly, told GNA that such concerns had gotten to the Assembly and that the issue had been referred to the appropriate committee to address.
Mr Asante added that, “We intend to have notice boards to show when each group can have access to the facility”.
He stressed that the incumbent Member of Parliament for Tema Central, Mr. Kofi Brako was in the process of procuring new equipment to be handed over to the Assembly for the maintenance of the parks.