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27.03.2009 Regional News

Confusion at Ashaiman… over demolishing exercise

By Richard Attenkah, Ashiaman - Ghanaian Chronicle

There was confusion at the Ashaiman Municipal Assembly (ASHMA) last Thursday, following reports that the Municipal Engineer; Stephen Nketiah took a unilateral decision to embark on a demolishing exercise in the Municipality. Reports say several hundreds of people believed to be sympathizers of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) thronged the ASHMA premises around noon to vent their spleen on the Municipal Engineer.

Eyewitnesses said in the early hours of the day, the Municipal Engineer in the company of some security guards of the Assembly went around areas behind the ASHMA premises to demolish some wooden structures there. According to the eyewitnesses, among those whose structures were demolished were people who the Municipal Engineer had written notices to and collected monies ranging from GH¢ 50.00 as permit to erect the structures there.

They said they were not happy because Mr. Nketiah and his cronies did not give them any notice before embarking on the exercise, an action they believe is an attempt on his part to sabotage the new government. What angered them the most was the fact that while demolishing the structures; Mr. Nketiah was heard saying that it was the MP for the area who instructed them to undertake the exercise, which in actual fact was not true. At the time this reporter arrived at the ASHMA premises, there were only a hand full of angry residents, mostly NDC sympathizers, and those who were affected by the exercise.

The Member of Parliament (MP) for the area, Alfred Agbesi, the Coordinating Director of ASHMA, Kwabena Akwa and the Municipal Engineer among other key people in the area were having a close door meeting which took them more than two hours, ostensibly to attempt to resolve the issue.

Addressing a section of the Tema media after the meeting, Hon. Agbesi noted that he was in parliament when news reached him that there was a demolishing exercise going on in Ashaiman and, therefore, he rushed back to ascertain what was going on. On reaching the area, he saw a thick crowd at the Assembly and after he had been briefed, he approached Mr. Nketiah to find out what was going on and to his amazement the Municipal Engineer started to verbally attack him, saying he was not afraid of him.

He said Mr. Nketiah pointed his hands to his face, as if he already had a score to settle with him.The Ashaiman MP disclosed that Mr. Nketiah later told him that he had his orders from the Greater Accra Minister, Nii Amarh Ashittey, but when he checked the Regional Minister said he knew nothing about the exercise.

Hon. Agbesi said he told the meeting that the exercise should be called off to pave way for a meeting of all stakeholders in the area to be held the following day to ascertain whether the Municipal Engineer should be allowed to continue his stay there or not.

Reacting to the allegations, Mr. Nketiah denied that he assaulted the Ashaiman MP, saying in the MP's attempt to find out from him what had happened; he brought a number of his supporters into his office. He said some of them were insulting him and so he told the MP and his supporters to walk out of his office.

On the issue of whether he gave notice to the people before embarking on the demolishing exercise, the ASHMA Engineer insisted that the affected people were dully informed. He noted that the first notice was given out in April last year, followed by another in August and then in December, but because of the elections they decided to hold on with the exercise.

Touching on the claims that he gave permit and collected revenue from some of the affected people, Mr. Nketiah averred that those permits were temporal, and that act was permitted under the law.