Families are paying more in recent times for space to bury their dead. Visits by The Mirror to some cemeteries showed that over the past five years, prices for graves had increased at different rates. At the Osu Cemetery in Accra, a worker who only gave his name as Sammy said the office charged GH¢4,900 and that included the service for digging the grave.
He explained that the grave price had been increasing significantly from GH¢830 in 2018 to between GH¢2,500 and GH¢3500 last year and is now GH¢4,900. Asked about information circulated on social media and supported by a purported receipt of GH¢14,000 as full payment for a grave in the cemetery, the Officer in Charge said those allegations were false. Although some people were in doubt, some believed it to be true, claiming that those who preferred to bury their relatives around the entrance at the cemetery paid much more.
“There has never been anyone who paid more than GH¢4,900. This amount is for the site, the digging and all that goes into making a proper tomb. The requirement is that a medical doctor must provide the cause of death, which you will use to obtain a death certificate at the Births and Deaths Registry for about GH¢30. This is what will be used to obtain a burial permit here and all at the cost of GH¢4,900,” he explained.
He said the cemetery had virgin land and allocated space for “reserve burials” and the people who patronised such service made a yearly maintenance payment at a small fee. The cemetery, he said, was committed to ensuring that bodies which had been buried were not exhumed or relocated. We have bodies which have been here for years; over 30 years. We have no culture of removing or relocating dead bodies, nor do we clear tombs to make way for new bodies to be buried in them,” he added.
The situation was not different at the Awudome cemetery, even though the price for a grave was lower as compared to the Osu Cemetery. A cemetery attendant at the Awudome Cemetery, who had worked for 22 years, explained that those who did not want to erect a tombstone were required to pay GH¢1,100 and those who wanted a well-laid tomb paid GH¢2,600.
The Mirror also visited the Gethsemane Memorial Park (GMP) and Madina Public Cemetery. At the GMP, located at East Legon, Accra, the Administrator, Mr Albert Eyeson, said that the cost for a burial plot was GH¢47,000. He said, however, that within the last year, the cost had been increased by GH¢2,000, from GH¢45,000 to GH¢47,000, to cater for the governmental increment in Value Added Tax (VAT) from 13 per cent to 15 per cent. The amount, he said, also covered a 20-year leasing of the burial space, the digging of the grave, and the construction of a tombstone.
The 20-year lease
According to him, after the expiration of the 20-year lease, clients could choose to renew or collect the remains of their loved ones. Touching on the recent inflation rate and its effect on their business, Mr Eyeson said the business had not been impacted since they had a fixed increment rate of GH¢1000 yearly. Mr Eyeson said that the cemetery required regular maintenance to keep it beautiful and well-suited to its niche market. He mentioned that the cost of maintenance included landscaping and general upkeep, which was funded through the fees collected for burials.
Our next stop was the Madina Public Cemetery, located in Madina-Samanpom, Accra, which is run by the government. It is an option for citizens who want an affordable grave. Here, the caretaker, Mr Kofi Dampare, said that the price for a burial plot was GH¢450, which was paid at the Madina Municipal Assembly.
“The client then pays GH¢300 as a digging fee to the ‘boys boys’ for a regular four by two feet measurement. That amount increases to GH¢700 if the client wants the dugout plastered and painted,” he added. He said most cemeteries only dug just two feet in recent times instead of the usual six feet because “it isn’t necessary anymore to have it to six feet. However, if anyone wants the six feet, it can still be done. Also, depending on the specific requirements, the cost can rise to GH¢2,000”.
Mr Dampare explained that the cost had increased over the last two years mainly due to inflation rates, even though he could not provide a definite figure as to how much the cost was some two years ago.
By: Lydia Ezit & Gloria Apprey