Private cemetery operators have taken advantage of inadequate space for the burial of the dead in Accra to charge bereaved families exorbitant fees or rents for parcels of land to give their beloved relatives final resting place.
The fees vary depending on the location of the cemeteries and whether or not the dead is an adult or a child.
Coupled with the escalating prices of coffins and advertisements, funerals have become very expensive to organise.
For six feet by four feet parcel of land in exclusive and plush areas such as Shiashie, private cemeteries charge GH¢2,500 for adults and about GH¢ 1700 for children.
While private cemeteries charge the exorbitant fees, public cemeteries charge between GH¢200 and GH¢900 depending on whether the dead is a child or an adult.
Sharing their experiences with the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday, some bereaved families said some private cemeteries demanded the payment of about GH¢ 1700 for six feet by four feet parcel of land but because the land was expensive they had to look for alternatives.
According to a couple who recently lost their two-year-old daughter, they dispatched three groups of people to various cemeteries to look for a place to bury their child.
Those who went to the densely populated Osu Cemetery were asked to go to the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) for a permit and come back to pay GH¢600.
The other group that went to the newly established Shiashie Cemetery were asked to pay GH¢ 1700 instead of the standard price of GH¢2500, since the dead was a child. Additionally, they were asked to bring a bottle of Castle Bridge gin.
The last group that went to the public cemetery at Madina were asked to pay GH¢300 initially but the price was reduced to GH¢200 after negotiations.
The Osu and Awudome cemeteries which were built around the 1800s have been overstretched and exhausted far beyond their limits, leaving sextons with no alternative but to adopt what they term a ‘storey building burial’, where two dead bodies are buried, one on the other, in a six-foot grave.
The Accra Metropolitan Assembly is now grappling with the responsibility of locating another large piece of land to replace the old cemeteries.
In the meantime, sextons at the two cemeteries continue to manage a very critical situation, sometimes to the detriment of their health as they reopen graves in which people have already been buried to shift old bodies and make room for new ones.
The Mile Eleven Cemetery at Akwasa in the Ga West District, which was given to the AMA to be used, has also been grossly encroached on, leaving just a small parcel of land for the assembly to manage with.
Apart from expensive burial places, prices of coffins and caskets are also gradually escalating. While coffins range from GH¢500 to GH¢2000, caskets, which are usually imported, sell between GH¢3,000 and GH¢ 1 0,000.
The tomb, a monument to the memory of a dead person, erected over their burial place, comes in various forms. The ordinary concrete block, which is the cheapest ranges from GH¢200 to GH¢300 while the minimum price of a terrazzo tomb is GH¢450. The marble, which is the top range, is as high as GH¢2000.
Depending on the status of the deceased or the financial power of the family, various advertisements are made on radio, television, in the newspapers and even on billboards, which are the latest addition, to formally announce the death and burial of loved ones
A full-page colour advert in some newspapers range from GH¢2,000 to GH¢4,000.