Over Political Maneuvering And Trickery On Its Lands
By Alfred K Dogbey
A well-hatched ploy by Regent of Ashaiman and unscrupulous encroachers occupying a 152-acre-land at Community 21 belonging to Ghana Free Zones Board (GFZB) to sway President John Mahama to get ownership of the land has been rubbished by the management of the Board.
The Regent of Ashaiman and the encroachers have adopted what GFZB described as “political manoeuvring and trickery”, sending several petitions to various Ministries and President Mahama to persuade him handover the land to them despite High Court and Appeal Court judgments in favour of GFZB.
In a letter dated October 1, 20013, addressed to Chief Of Staff, Office of The President and signed by the Executive Secretary of GFZB, in response to the petitions by the Regent of Ashaiman, Kwadwo Twum-Boafo said, “we humbly wish to state that the Petition from the Regent of Ashaiman contains factual
inaccuracies and could be summed up as a ploy to deceive His Excellency”.
The encroachers, GFZB boss noted, “realizing that the courts would not countenance their illegal occupation of Community 21, have now teamed up with the Regent of Ashaiman and resorted to the writing of petitions”.
Mr. Twum-Boafo, disclosed to the presidency that “within the past eighteen (18) months alone, Management of GFZB has appeared before the Hon. Ministers for Youth and Sports, Local Government and Lands and Forestry, as a result of frivolous petitions presented to the Ministers by the Regent of Ashaiman
and the Municipal Assembly”.
Giving the full details of the case to the Office of the President, GFZB boss said, “the land which is the subject matter of the Petition, has never formed part of lands under the Ashaiman Regent.
The land he said, “has been referred to and known as Community 21. This parcel of land is approximately hundred and fifty- two (152) acres and is part of the land compulsorily acquired by the Colonial Government in 1952. The acquisition was carried out by the Tema Town and Port (Acquisition of Land) Ordinance (No. 38 of 1952)”.
The Colonial Government in 1956, demised the land it acquired to the Terna Development Corporation (TDC). As at 1972, the TDC had still not developed Community 21 and therefore granted agricultural tenancies to some farmers.
The term granted, varied from tenant to tenant. The offer letters issued by the TDC contained the following provision:
“Notwithstanding any provision contained herein your tenancy shall be subject to any new policy, rule or bye law that may be adopted and or passed by the TDC and or the Government in so far as, it affects or they affect the Tema Development Corporation”.
“The Tema Development Corporation did not renew the tenancies upon expiration and wrote to all the farmers to cease all agricultural activities on the land and vacate the land by end of 1996”.
“The President of Ghana, in 1997, duly declared the area, the subject matter of the Petition a free zone residential enclave in accordance with section 7(1) of the Free Zone Act, 1995 (Act 504)”.
The gazette publication is contained in the No. 17 issue of the Commercial and Industrial Bulletin dated Friday, September 19, 1997, (a photocopy of the bulletin has been attached). Ghana Free Zones Board was at the verge of leasing the land to a free zone developer to develop the land into a first class residential estate, when a suit was filed by some of the farmers. The suit filed in 2001 did not end until 2008. The investor, therefore, lost interest in the project before the judgment day.
Litigation Instigated By Farmers
In 2001, sixteen (16) farmers who were given portions of the land by TDC for their farming businesses filed a suit against the TDC. Our outfit (Ghana Free Zones Board) joined as Co-defendant. On zs” October 2004, the High Court, Tema, gave judgment in favour of the Tema Development Corporation and Ghana Free Zones Board (a photocopy of a certified true copy of the judgment has been attached).
Being dissatisfied with the High Court’s decision, the farmers appealed to the Court of Appeal. On 17th July, 2008, the Appeal Court unanimously affirmed the High Court decision and dismissed the appeal filed by the farmers (photocopy of certified copy of decision has been attached). Ghana Free Zones Board has to date not been served with a notice of Appeal and the time for appealing has long elapsed.
Political Maneuvering and Trickery by Regent of Ashaiman
The farmers, realizing that the Courts would not countenance their illegal occupation of Community 21, have now teamed up with the Regent of Ashiaman and resorted to the writing of petitions. Within the past eighteen (18) months alone, Management of GFZB has appeared before the Hon. Ministers for Youth and Sports, Local Government and lands and Forestry as a result of frivolous petitions presented to the Ministers by the Regent of Ashaiman and the Municipal Assembly.
Roadmap for Community 21
GFZB has found an investor with the requisite capital to develop Community 21 into a World Class Residential Enclave. Drawings and a proposed land use plan have been presented by the investor who .has already made some financial commitments. GFZB has also paid part of the monies due Tema Development Corporation on account of the land.
The land has also been fenced with wire mesh to ward off further encroachment. The Community 21 Project will commence before the end of the year. We are therefore humbly soliciting the requisite support of the Office of the President to have a smooth commencement of the project.
Meanwhile, The Herald has also intercepted another letter by the Free Zones Board to the Chief of Staff as a follow-up response on the earlier response, informing the President about its decision to develop the land in dispute.
The letter dated, January 30, 2014 and signed by GFZB Executive Secretary was titled, “Re: Petition To The President H.E John Dramani Mahama On Proposed Community 21 Lands In Ashaiman”.
It said, “We humbly write this letter as a follow-up to a response to a petition sent to His Excellency by the Regent of Ashaiman. We have enclosed a photocopy of response dated October 1, 2013 for ease of reference”.
“We wish to inform His Excellency that arrangement for developing community 21, has been finalized with our developers. Consequently, all squatters would be evicted from the land for the commencement of the project”.
According to Mr. Twum Boafo, “we have, therefore, enlisted assistance from National Security for the exercise. We would be most grateful if this development is brought to the attention of His Excellency”.
Management of GFZB, however, have fixed Friday February 21for the eviction and demolition of all illegal structures put up on the vast land by the encroachers.