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05.12.2007 General News

Weija demolition victims asked to go to court

By myjoyonline

The residents of Weija whose homes were recently demolished because the homes were wrongly sited near the catchment area of the Weija Dam, have been advised to go to court.

The advise was given by Nana Oye Lithur of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.

The exercise which was carried out on the orders of the Office of National Security and the Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing in a bid to secure and protect the Dam affected 25 buildings.

The houses, officials said, were built on land belonging to the Ghana Water Company Limited.

Thirteen communities around the Dam were affected. These are Ablekuma, Joma, Afuaman and Weija.

According to the Minister of Works and Housing, Alhaji Boniface Abubakar Saddique, the exercise which has been temporary halted, would be continued.

He also said the continued stay of the residents in the catchment area of the Dam poses danger to the Weija Dam and the provision of potable water for the capital, Accra.

Alhaji Saddique rejected complaints that the residents were given short notice before the demolition exercise was carried out.

But, Human Rights Activist,Nana Oye Lithur says the manner in which the demolitions were carried out amounted to human rights infringements.

Speaking to Joy News' Akwasi Sarpong, she said, there have been a consistent pattern of demolitions by government agencies around the country. She said in most of the demolition exercises, the proper procedures were not followed.

She said in the case of one such demolition exercise in Dambai where over 200 houses were pulled down , the residents were woken up in the middle of the night, surrounded by armed policemen, while a private contractor who was engaged carried out the demolition.

She said in that case, even though one of the residents had taken the District Assembly to court over the issue and the court had issued a restraining order, the court order was ignored and the demolition exercise carried out around 2:00 am.

Residents, according to Nana Lithur were not even allowed to take out their belongings.

Nana Oye Lithur said, in this particular incident one person died after seeing the home pulled down.

While she agrees that when people violate bye-laws and build any how, they should be punished, she says it must be done according to laid down procedures for carrying out demolitions.

She said the procedures are notifications of the demolition, and when and how the demolitions would be carried out should be made known to residents.