Sekondi is neither an English nor a Fanti word. It is a name derived from the word “second,” after the settlement was chosen as the second location for a shallow water harbour (jetty) to facilitate the importation of equipment for the construction of railways across the then Gold Coast.
The records of the Ghana Railways Company show that the name was corrupted twice by the locals. First it was spelt “Secondee” and later became Sekondi.
Corroborating this, a retired employee of the railway company, Abaka Amoah, who grew up, schooled and worked in the city as a public relations officer of the company, said the name came out of the word Second and was initially spelt “Secondee” – not Sekondi.
“There was a survey along the coast for the construction of a harbour to receive equipment for the construction of rail lines in the hinterlands,” he said.
Mr Amoah said after the survey two places were located – Takoradi and Sekondi. However, it was realised that Takoradi was good for a deep-water harbour, while Sekondi was good for a jetty because the land was so smooth.
The survey report also indicated that the present location known as Sekondi was the “second” location selected for a harbour project aimed at having a large railway establishment to access the rest of the then Gold Coast.
Jetty, rail lines
Mr Amoah said after the survey, Takoradi was identified as the first place for the construction of a deepwater port. Sekondi, today, he said, was then a fishing settlement.
However, considering the cost of the construction of a seaport, the decision was to ensure that there was enough justification for the construction of a deepwater port in Takoradi.
The plan involved construction of rail lines to further explore the land to ensure that when the port was constructed there would be economic benefits to the country.
Sekondi was selected for the construction of a jetty because it was shallow and good for the project – “What we had was similar to what was constructed at James Town in Accra,” he said.
He said later the jetty was built to receive shipped equipment for the construction of the railways that would link up Kumasi.
In 1903 when the rail line finally reached Kumasi, “the proponents realised that there were timber, cocoa, while other parts of the country had manganese and bauxite to be hauled to the port for export.”
With the completion of the jetty as well as the railway lines, Sekondi became one of the vibrant cities with a beautiful layout, streets well named, nightlife, and a busy marketplace for all forms of economic activities.
Sekondi is currently the home port of the Western Naval Command, the First West African Bank, and has a giant post office, fort, the navy settlement and interesting places such as Komfoase, the Fish Roundabout, the offices of the Metropolitan Assembly, the Office of the Western Regional Administration, as well as many government offices.
However, currently, Sekondi is an old town that is yearning for vibrancy – all commercial activities, big hotels, and eateries, among others, are now found in Takoradi.
The good old Sekondi market is almost empty due to the dilapidated structures, making it difficult for some traders to continue the use of their market stalls.
Trading activities have spilled over to the street, forcing the metropolitan assembly to turn a blind eye to street trading activities that have also been extended to the sea-defence wall.