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30.04.2012 General News

Katamansu historical forest under encroachment threat

By Ghanaian Chronicle
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By: Richard Attenkah
The Katamansu Historical Forest, otherwise known as Pinkwai Forest, which was the field for the final battle between the Ashantis and Gas in 1826, is now facing serious danger, as some unidentified persons are encroaching upon it.

So far, they have succeeded in destroying over a third of the 500-acre sacred forest, using bull-dozers to clear it, and selling the land to developers to start putting buildings, as well as heaping sand and gravel for sale to the unsuspecting public.

Representatives from some selected Ga states, including Teshie, Nungua and Osu, on behalf of the Ga-Dangbe community, as well as the youth of Katamansu, have demonstrated their displeasure over the illegal activity, which, according to them, is being undertaken at night and on weekends.

They have, therefore, appealed to the government to, as a matter of urgency, intervene and stop the perpetrators of these acts, so as to help restore the forest to its former state, saying they had planned to convert the place into a tourist attraction to help create employment for the youth in the area.

They have also appealed to the Greater Accra Regional Minister, Joseph Nii Laryea Afotey Agbo, who is also a son of the land, to help bring the situation under control, as the present state of affairs was fast affecting their economic wellbeing.

They called on the management of the Ghana Tourist Authority (GTA) and the Forestry Department, which has been supplying them with plant seedlings to plant in the forest, to add their voices to their plea to bring the situation under control.

Speaking at a press conference at Katamansu on Friday to make their plight known to the government through the press, Numo Gbelenfo, Osu Wulomo, said they did not want to take the laws into their own hands, which could create unrest in the area, and also affect the peace in the region, hence the press conference.

He said already, architectural drawings aimed at developing the historic forest into a standard tourist attraction had been completed, and that they were waiting to generate the needed financial resources to commence the project.

Aside plans to convert the Katamansu historical forest, near Dodowa, into a tourist attraction, the sacred forest is also where the people perform their traditional rites during the annual Homowo festival, he explained.

Joshua Kwei Laryea, a prince from the Katamansu palace, said initially, it was difficult for them to track the illegal developers as they operate in the area under the cover of darkness.

'One cannot tell where they are hidden, but before one can say Jack, a building has been erected overnight or over the weekend on the blind side of our people,' Prince Kwei noted.

He hinted that the youth in the area were more than capable to stand up to whoever is behind these illegal activities, 'But, you see, we do not want to take the laws into our own hands, because if we do, it will be a different story, hence our call on government and the Regional Minister to intervene.'

When members of the media were conducted round the forest in the company of the police, led by ASP Karim Atuluk of the Operations Unit at the Tema Regional Police Command, it was observed that a large swathe of the sacred forest had been reduced to a football field, waiting to be sold out for development.

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