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Residents worried about the construction of new metro line in Abidjan

Port-Bouët area of Abidjan   -  
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SIA KAMBOU/AFP or licensors -

Abidjan

There is growing concern among residents in the Port-Bouët area of Abidjan in Côte d'Ivoire.

The first metro line, intended to relieve congestion in the city, is currently under construction and passes through their neighbourhood.

Many elderly people are being forced to leave their homes but are worried about the slow process for receiving financial compensation.

Retired teacher, Lehouc Édouard, is in his 80s and has spent most of his life in his flat in the area. More than 50 years of memories he has to leave behind.

‘It's a whole memory of my life that's gone. My grandchildren spent their childhood here,’ he says.

The documents justifying his ownership of the property will not be able to save his house. In a few days’ time, he will have to watch the building being demolished.

But before the bulldozer passes, he spends every day mourning and recovering forgotten objects that are dear to him.

Neighbourhood to be flattened

His block of flats and other half-dismantled buildings will soon be piles of rubble. Their residents are now among those who are affected by the construction project.

They say that are not opposed to the metro but are demanding compensation for their property.

‘The PAR (Action and Resettlement Programme) has broken as you can see,’ says Ahui Amouli Kouassi, president of those affected by the Port-Bouët metro.

‘Before demolishing we asked to be resettled. We asked them to negotiate with us and resettle us. This is what’s not been done and this is what we are asking for,’ he says.

Many of the area’s residents agree with him, but echoe his concerns about fair compensation.

‘If you take our property, give us another property, that's what we ask for,’ says Nebié Bo Djo.

‘The children are at school. All the authorities have to do is rehouse us, they are the solution. I have no feet to kneel on. I kneel with my cane. May they have mercy on us,’ says retiree Brou Djédjé Henriette.

Rail company reassures on compensation

The Ivorian rail company, the Société Ivoirienne de la Gestion du Patrimoine Ferroviaire, says it is aware of their distress, is trying to reassure people that they will be taken care of.

‘We should have already finished freeing up the rights of way. In fact, there are new people who are affected because the studies have evolved and slightly modified the passage of the metro, which means that new people have come into play and we’re giving them time to leave,’ says the company’s Director General, Cissé Moustapha.

Some of the first people to be impacted by the new metro are satisfied with the process.

‘I thought it would last for years. To my great surprise, it didn't last more than two months. I was called today to come and get my money. I arrived and signed all the documents. I’m satisfied,’ says blacksmith Traoré Abdoulaye.

The construction of the 37-kilometre long metro in Abidjan is expected to go some way towards solving the problem of mobility in the city.

Out of 13,000 families affected by the project, more than 7,000 have already been compensated.