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27.01.2006 General News

Government is right in holding lands


Accra, Jan. 27, GNA - There was nothing unconstitutional about Government holding on to lands it acquired and for which it had not yet paid compensation, Professor Seth Opuni Asiama, a University Don, said at a seminar in Accra on land acquisition. Rather than Government acceding to the request to give back such lands to the traditional owners, Prof Asiama said the Government had to explore all means to pay the compensation and keep the lands as the basis for the creation of land banks for housing and other Government projects.

Prof Asiama, who is the Provost of the College of Architecture and Planning of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), made the suggestion at a seminar on Land Acquisition on Thursday, the second day of a three-day international twin-exhibition dubbed, "Water Africa 2006" and "West Africa Building and Construction 2006" at the Accra International Conference Centre.

The exhibition, organized by Compass Ventures and ACE Event Management, with support from the Ministry is showcasing housing and water engineering equipment and materials like pipes, pumps, tanks, monitoring equipment, laboratory kits, well-drilling and lining equipment, treatment plants, as well as general consulting services. The exhibition has the theme: "Achieving the Millennium Development Goals in Africa: Water and Housing Construction". Exhibitors are from Africa, Europe, India, the Middle East and North America.

Prof Asiama said reverting the lands would be setting back the clock of progress, and suggested that the Government and developers could enter into partnership with the chiefs for the development of the lands.

He said on the average it took 382 days, seven different procedures, and about 4.1 per cent cost of the property before registration was finalised in Ghana, and that reduced the nation's competitiveness for investment.

In Botswana, the duration was 69 days, four processes and 3 per cent of the value of the property, while in Sweden it took two days, one stage and 3 per cent of the value to register a property. Prof. Asiama said the delays in land acquisition stemmed from indeterminate boundaries of stool, clan and family lands, multiple ownership, lack of strong centralised traditional authority, lack of proper consultation among land-owners and chiefs and conflicting judgements on land cases at the law courts.

He, however, pointed out it was simpler but offered less security to acquire land in Accra than in Kumasi, because of checks instituted by the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II through his Land Secretariat. "The chiefs and sub-chiefs know that they could be destooled, if they misbehaved in land matters."

Prof Asiama said due to the lack of proper documentation and the non-issuance of receipts for lands and allocation note, some chiefs were taking advantage of the situation and engaging in multiple land sales, citing Buokrom, near Kumasi where the practice had become rife. This, he said, had made the Otumfuo Osei Tutu to issue a warning recently against such practice.

Prof Asiama suggested a management audit of Asanteman lands, as well as the process of land acquisition in Kumasi, as some chiefs gave out land illegally and "don't want to go near Manhyia" the seat of the Asante Kingdom, when summoned.

The Provost warned developers to be wary of spurious lands deals and illegal structures because it was a false assumption that a structure should not be demolished once it was at or above the lintel level.