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12.05.2009 Editorial

Enchroachment on gov`t lands

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The two stories, that have caught the attention of most Ghanaians in recent weeks, are the enchroachment on Ghana Atomic Energy (GAE) and a public cemetary lands at Bortianor, all in Accra, by private developers.

Whilst it took a visit by the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr. Colins Dauda, to make public the encroachment of the GAE lands, that of the public cemetary at Bortianor was exposed by the exposure of buried dead bodies after a heavy downpour.

Interestingly, while the Colins Dauda had announced that all buidings that had been put up on the GEA lands would be demolished, the Accra Metropilitan Assembly (AMA), which has direct supervisory responsibility over the cemetery, is only raising alarm over a possible epidemic, without coming out with concrete measures to solve the problem. What amused The Chronicle most was the reported comment made Dr. Simpson Anim-Boateng, the Director in charge of the Public Health Department of the AMA.

He was quoted by the Daily Graphic as saying that attempts made by the AMA to halt the enchroachment on the land failed, as the people were determined to build there, despite the health implications for them and their families.

The Chronicle finds this excuse by the learned doctor unacceptable, and calls on the government to investigate the case, and punish all those who would be found culpable. Before one puts up a building in Accra, the person must first obtain a permit from the AMA. One would therefore be tempted to ask, who gave the permit to those who have built on the cemetery land.

Granted that these private developers did not obtain permits before building, the AMA could have used every legitimate force to stop the continued enchroachment on the land, which they failed to do, even though they have building inspectors who receive salaries at the end of the month.

To us at The Chronicle, this issue about the enchroachment of government lands keeps on occurring, because the government or the sector ministry is not meting out punitive sanctions against those responsible for the protection of these lands.

Indeed, if an official working at the Town and Country Department of the AMA had been prosecuted and jailed for issuing wrong permits for people to enchroach on government lands, it would have served as a deterent to others, but this is not happening.

Since the cemetery in question, was acquired as far back as 1960, the government definitely has documents covering them, and those who issued out the permits should have known this, because it is one of the prerequisites for issuing a permit to a developer. Some unscrupulous Ghanaians sometimes collude with officialdom to enchroach on government lands, because they believe that when they complete it, nobody would come and demolish it. This unpatriotic attitude is doing more harm than good to this country.

The Chronicle is also astonished that the GAE, which is manned by competent people, would sit down for private developers to take over the lands right under their noses.

This is objectionable, because they could have reported the incident to the security agencies for help, if they could not handle it themselves. We support the position by the sector minister that all unauthorised structures on the site be demolished.

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