Ho — THE Ho Municipal Assembly has vowed to go ahead with plans to raze down about 200 houses in the Kabakaba Forest Reserve on the Galenku Hill, although some developers have produced building permits covering their properties.
"This is a gazetted forest reserve so under no circumstance can permits be acquired to encroach on the vegetation therein," Mr John Nelson Akorli, the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) said.
He said pursuant to the demolition plan, the assembly had set up a committee to look into how the developers acquired the building permits, to put up structures in the reserve.
The MCE warned that any official of the assembly found to have connived in the issuance of fake permits to the developers would suffer swift and ruthless consequences.
"We cannot look on unconcerned while people take the law into their own hands with impunity to deprive the future generation of their heritage," Mr Akorli said.
He said the assembly would stop at nothing with the planned demolition exercise.
The assembly's decision followed a recent warning by the Forestry Division that the unending encroachment of the Kabakaba Forest Reserve by developers would definitely result in the submersion of the Volta regional capital in a massive deluge in two decades.
The Volta Regional Manager of the division, Mr Michael Painstil, told the Ghanaian Times in an earlier interview that the trend would make streams following from the hill to divert their courses and flow swiftly downstream to engulf Ho on a disastrous scale.
"What used to be a thick forest reserve is now giving way to houses, chapels and farms, and this is a threat to the survival of future generations," Mr Painstil said.
According to him, several measures adopted by the Forestry Services Division, including the engagement of armed personnel of the security agencies in the reserve had proved unsuccessful.
"The encroachers continue to carry out the nefarious activities in the forest day and night with impunity," said Mr Painstil.
He stated that the public educational campaigns carried out by the division against the trend also yielded little result.
Mr Painstil said that the reserve which was 'marked out more than 150 years ago' had contributed immensely to the clean air in Ho.
If the encroachment continued, polluted air would hover over Ho in the near future and that would cause serious health problems to the people, Mr Painstil said.
He attributed the recent invasion of houses near the forest reserve by reptiles, including snakes, to the activities of the encroachers,.
A tour of the reserve by the Ghanaian Times revealed numerous and large buildings put up by individuals and churches, and residents.