A number of individuals and organisations including the National Democratic Congress have instigated campaigns of massive resistance against government's proposed conversion of the Achimota Forest into a commercial centre.
According Joy News, it has in possession a letter signed by the Executive Secretary of the Lands Commission, Alhaji Hamidu Ibrahim Baryeh, asking the Executive Director of the Forestry Commission for advice on the proposed redevelopment of the Achimota Forest.
The letter stated that the Commission's input is needed urgently as the directive is coming from the Office of the President, which has mandated the Ministry of Lands, Forestry and Mines to undertake a feasibility study to convert the reserve into a high density commercial centre.
The forest is located along the Accra-Tema Motorway extension. It spans more that 900 acres and was set aside as a reserve in 1930.
Kofi Boakye-Yiadom, a botanist, told Joy FM's Super Morning Show the move is a bad idea at a time the world is threatened by global warming.
“To me it is one of the most dangerous decisions that any technical person who is green minded would want to make, because Achimota forest is just about the only green belt in the heart of Accra and now we talk about climate change and the depletion of the ozone layer.
“I wonder how anybody would want to just cut off all this green away when we have concrete all over the places in the city now...it is a bad decision, I don't think it is correct.”
Mr. Boakye-Yiadom advocated for a proper planning of the city instead of the indiscriminate erection of structures everywhere.
“In Accra today, tell me. Where do we have a play ground, where do we have a green shelter, where do we have a place to run to in case there is a disaster?”
Mr. Yaw Osafo Maafo, a former Minister of State and a leading member of the New Patriotic Party, observed that the move was wrong and wished it would not materialize.
“I hope it is not true, because if it is true, it is a very major policy defect which must be corrected immediately.”
He was surprised that whilst countries are preserving their forest and those without forest are doing everything possible to turn certain portions of their cities into forest, Ghana is rather destroying its reserve.
“We are lucky to have the Achimota forest, and for heaven's sake nobody should dream of turning it into a commercial centre. We need it ecologically; we need it as part of a city that is growing at this rate. It will be very wrong for anybody to attempt to commercialize that forest.”
The National Democratic Congress has also stated that it would oppose any attempt by the government to convert the Forest into a commercial centre.
The NDC Member of Parliament for Asutifi South and Minority Spokesperson on Lands and Forestry, Alhaji Collins Dauda, said destroying the reserve would have dire environmental repercussions.
“If we are able to quantify the benefits of the state of the forest today and put it against the benefits when it is destroyed, we will see clearly that it will not be useful at all to tamper with the use today.”
He asked the government to instead return the lands to the owners if the purpose it was earmarked for no longer holds.
Story by Isaac Essel