24.11.2007 General News

Police, military declare war on Weija Dam squatters

By Daily Graphic
Police, military declare war on Weija Dam squatters
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Bulldozers, cranes, as well as a combined force of military and police personnel, are on stand-by for a special operation early next week to demolish illegal structures and flush out land guards and stone winners around the Weija Dam.

The Director of Police Public Relations, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Kwasi Ofori, said to speed up the process and attain "zero level of human casualty", a recce had already been conducted by a team of security personnel which also surveyed the activities of land guards and stone winners around the dam.

He said the move had become necessary because the stone winners and land guards in the area had become adamant and refused to heed all warnings to stop their illegal activities.

In an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra Friday, DSP Ofori said in spite of all the efforts by the police and other security agencies to curb the land guard canker, the phenomenon continued to fester, occasionally threatening the security of the state.

He said in recent times the activities of land guards had trebled putting lives and property in danger at the Weija Dam site.

He said through the use of land guards, many unauthorised structures had been put up close to the dam, while others had also resorted to the use of dynamite for quarrying there.

He said the situation posed a great danger to the dam, which supplied potable water to over two million people in and around Accra.

DSP Ofori said apart from the fact that the collapse of the dam would result in the erratic supply of potable water, it could also wash away and destroy many houses and property in parts of Accra.

He, therefore warned those carrying out such illegal acts to desist immediately because they would live to regret what was going to happen to them.

DSP Ofori said it was illegal for any group of persons to possess illegal weapons and use them for clandestine operations like land guarding, while those who registered their weapons and rented them out were also guilty of the same offence.

He said the activities of land guards had become a bother to residents and developers, hence the resolve of the security agencies to tackle them, including all those who financed, supplied and recruited land guards.

He said available data on land guard activities and their effects were very worrying.

DSP Ofori said to ensure that the prevailing peace in the country was not disturbed, there was the need for a comprehensive and encompassing operation to be embarked upon.

He said during the operation, the target would be to arrest financiers of land guards, disarm and discourage chiefs, opinion leaders and traditional authorities who instigated land guard activities, deal with the suppliers of weapons and logistics to land guards and elicit the support of the general public in the fight against the phenomenon.

DSP Ofori said in the long term the police and the military, as well as other security agencies, would launch an onslaught on the activities of communities of land guards, especially in the developing areas of Accra and Kumasi, such as Pokuase and Kasoa.

He said the move was to cut them off the system completely and make the practice unattractive and ensure that the rightful owners of land could make good use of their property.

DSP Ofori, therefore warned all those whose activities, in one way or another, involved land guard operations to put an immediate stop to them.

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