27 February 2013

Ghana: Medie Parks and Gardens Under Threat

The government of Ghana has estimated US$1,000 per capital income by 2015 through tourism to boost the country's economic wealth creation, for which reason it has charged the Tourism Ministry, in its mission statement, to create a conducive and favorable environment for the sustainable growth and development of the sector.

As to whether the ministry would be able to achieve its target depends on how some important landmarks and sites are revived and maintained.

For instance, an area like Medie in the Ga West Municipal Assembly (GWMA), Amasaman, in the Greater Accra Region, has a garden that attracts holiday makers from far and near to get a feel of nature, but over decades now the garden has been deserted.

The Medie Parks and Gardens was established in 1965, but after some years has lost its value to the mercy of sand winners and private estate developers.

According to the Assembly Member for the area, Mr. Abdulai Iddrisu Agoro, the garden generated a lot of jobs and income for the indigenes and surrounding towns like Nsawam.

Mr. Agoro noted that the garden was one of the most beautiful places in the region, next to the Aburi Botanical Gardens.

The Assembly Member stated that the government at time, to ensure the garden survived, constructed a dam to irrigate the plants, trees and flowers, with inhabitants of the area fishing in the dam.

"The dam is in danger because some individuals are encroaching on its banks for estate development."

He indicated that without any information from the authorities, the garden was allocated to new a management which later deserted it.

The mouthpiece of the area stated that he had discussed the matter with the Municipal Chief Executive to revive the garden, but the assembly showed no interest. "The Assembly must take charge of the garden since it would generate income and employment for the people," he charged.

He said the abandoning of the garden has caused joblessness and poverty in the community. "If the garden were to be in operation, tourists would visit the area, and lots of businesses will spring-up, and money would come into the pockets of the people."

He added that lands reserved for agriculture purposes had been taken over by estate developer and companies. "Unfortunately, most of the people are not getting placement in these industries, because they didn't get the opportunity to educate themselves and their children, because of farming activities."

He further appealed to the government to do all it can to settle the various families whose lands were taken for the benefit of the whole country.

The Acting Chief Parks and Gardena Officer, Nantogma A. Wumbei, in an exclusive interview with the Accra File, indicated that the garden was meant for horticultural purposes, thus the Central Horticultural Experimental Services, and not for tourist attraction.

He explained that it was a station where foreign plants were experimented with to know whether they can survive in the country before they are nursed, and transplanted in other areas or exported to other Africa countries.

He stated that the Department of Parks and Gardens did not desert the garden, but it was the government which put it on divestiture, upon which a Zimbabwe company showed interest. "As I am speaking with you now, the garden is no longer under the supervision of the department.

"We were later informed that the Zimbabwe company had abandoned the area. Since the department is under the Ministry of Local Government, we are therefore, looking forward that it would be returned into our care," he added.

When questioned whether they had any future plans of making it a botanical garden, he answered that the department was currently financially constrained to embark on such a development, but if the government made funds available it could become possible.

When the Accra File contacted one of the 13 families inhabiting the area, the Klokoto-We family head, Nii Armah Tetteh, revealed that some families want to retrieve their lands for other purposes, since governments, over the years, had failed to pay them compensation.

The one acre square garden has been encroached by private developers and sand winners.

The family head pleaded with the government to release the lands, since it had not lived to its promise or pay them compensation.

Mr. Tetteh alleged that currently, portions of the gardens had been sold to the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, Immigration Service, Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU and other private estate developers.

The file is appealing to the Local Government Ministry and Ministry of Tourism Culture and Creative Arts to empower the Department of Parks and Gardens financially, for it to be able to transform the Medie gardens in to a tourist centre.

It is part of the ministry's function to pursue the development of Ghana's tourism potentials, particularly, in the area of job-creation and socio-economic development.

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