4 February 2013

Ghana: Sale of Gov't Lands in Kwamoso Must Stop - Residents

The people of Kwamoso, a predominant farming community in the Akuapem North District is seething with anger and frustration as government lands in the area, acquired during the First Republic are blatantly sold to individuals and estate developers.

Residents of the area have accused Nana Fianko Bekoe, their Acting Chief, of selling the land which was acquired by the first President of the Republic, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, thereby defeating the purpose for which the land was forcibly taken away from their natural owners.

According to them, despite the enormous and sharp under-development of the area, the illegal sale of government land, which has become the source of livelihood for the people, would certainly not be the answer.

What seemed to have broken the camel's back and nearly sparked misunderstanding in the area last Tuesday was the takeover of a 14-hectare of land earmarked for an afforestation programme by the individuals and developers.

The developers have allegedly destroyed over 4000 species of plants made up of mahogany, teak and acacia, to the surprise of workers and residents.

Speaking to Eastern File, the Coordinator of the programme Mr. Gilinne Anagli, described the action of the developers as causing financial loss to the state since the workers and seedlings for the afforestation are funded by the government.

According to him, he could not understand why lands acquired by the government for the development of the area would be sold by some unscrupulous individuals for private gain, warning that the government inability to stop the developers could lead to serious trouble.

Mr. Anagli, therefore, called on the government to immediately stop the chief and his cohorts from selling the land to developers since it is source of livelihood for the people, stressing that "you can't sell the hen that lays the golden egg".

To him, anything short of the appeal would lead to uncontrollable chaos since they would all engage in the selling of the land for their good.

When contacted, Nana Fianko Bekoe admitted the selling of the land but said it was for the development of the area and that was why he had been accepting tokens for the land.

He further claimed that the portions of land sold by his office were not part of lands meant for the afforestation programme but areas demarcated for the traditional Area, describing the allegation that he was selling government land as "unfortunate and a deliberate attempt to tarnish his image."

Taking this reporter through the acquisition of the land, Nana Bekoe said the government acquired the present settlement of the people in 1968 when the original Kwamoso was "swallowed" by floods.

According to him, another flood greeted the area in 1972 shortly after the first flood so the remaining land acquired by the president for State Oil Palm Plantation was released to the traditional rulers for resettlement.

The land released by the government to the people was, therefore, allocated to the people under the instruction of the late chief of the area Nana Ofosu Appenteng II.

The Acting chief seized the opportunity to appeal to the people to rally behind them in order to develop the area rather than using the media to settle scores.

Meanwhile, workers on the afforestation programme have given a week's ultimatum to the management of Ecotech, contractors in charge of the programme, to pay their four 4 months arrears of salary, else they would advise themselves.

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