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General News
Accra cemeteries full 8/31/2014

All the major public cemeteries in the Accra metropolis are full to capacity and may no longer be able to contain more bodies, the Accra Metro Director of Public Health, Dr Simpson Anim Boateng, has revealed.

The Awudome Cemetery, the largest in the metropolis, is full and so is the Osu Cemetery. But per our traditional reverence to the dead, Ghanaians are not taking advantage of cremation to ease the pressure on cemeteries, especially in the capital city.

Consequently, the AMA has resorted to reburial and burying in between spaces as the only solution to the problem.

In an interview with The Mirror, Dr Boateng said, “at the moment, all our cemeteries are full so instead of digging six feet to bury one body, we bury two people in a six-feet hole, so we are able to accommodate more bodies. We also re-use old graves that have no tombstones on them,” he explained.

He said the assembly had plans to reconstruct the southern part of the Awudome Cemetery, which is no longer in use, for future burials.

Dr Boateng advised the general public to stop loitering in and around cemeteries.

“For some time now, we have realised that people play on the tombs, relax on them and even sell and eat food in the cemeteries. This is a bad practice and very unhygienic. We have tried several times to keep these people away, but they keep coming back. Occasionally, a task force is sent to the cemeteries to send these people away,” he said.

Maintaining the public cemeteries also poses another challenge to the assembly. A large part of the Awudome Cemetery, for instance, is overgrown with weed. It has also become a den for criminals who attack victims around the cemetery at night.

“It is very dangerous to walk around there at night because some people hide in the bush and attack innocent people. If you are unlucky, you might even be injured by those criminals,” Naana Addy, a resident of Awudome Estate, told The Mirror.

The Osu Cemetery has been turned into a business centre by some food vendors and hawkers during the day.

The deteriorating state of public cemeteries has led to the emergence of the new business of private cemeteries. One of such facilities is the Gethsemane Memorial Garden at East Legon.

The facility offers different burial services and charges a relatively higher amount, compared to the public cemeteries.

Some people also prefer to bury their relatives and friends in their homes and other places, outside the cemeteries.

Since land is becoming more and more scarce in Accra, the Accra Metro Director of Public Health has advised that it is important to move away from the traditional burial to cremation.

The Osu Crematorium in Accra, he said, is mostly patronised by foreigners, and though it will be difficult to move away from burial because of our culture, cremation is the ideal solution to the overcrowding in cemeteries.

“No matter the size of the cemetery, it would eventually get full to capacity, and we cannot forever keep creating new cemeteries,” Dr Boateng noted.

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