Free Zones Board Gets Back 152-Acre Land

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Over 164 Encroachers Compensated

By Alfred K Dogbey

Authorities of Ghana Free Zones Board (GFZB) last Friday, January 21, successively evicted unlawful residents on its 152-acre parcel of land at Tema Community 21, near Michel Camp, without any violent spectacle.

A demolition exercise described as “friendly” lasting six hours, was executed under heavy security presence; comprising the police, military and personnel from the National Disaster Management and Organization (NADMO) ensured that the Free Zones Board, could now start the construction of a first-class residential enclave.

The residential enclave is meant for foreign investors who come to Ghana, but have had to check into expensive hotels, while sorting the details of their investments with the Board.

Part of the enclave is also to serve official residence of some staff of the Board.

National Coordinator of NADMO, Kofi Poturphy, has commended the manner in which the exercise was conducted, describing it as very “peaceful”.

Surprisingly, the encroachers including, block manufacturers, churches, mechanics and many others cooperated and even assisted the security officers through to the end.

Remarkably, a day after the demolition, Management of Free Zones Board, visited the area at about 10:00am and presented an amount of GH¢10, 000 as payment for a land secured at Afienya, by the squatters upon appeal made to GFZB.

The donation, was made by the acting Deputy Executive Secretary of GFZB, Obuobia Darko Opoku, together with the Estate and Enclave Manager, as well as the Free Zones Solicitor, Nsieh Asante and Ms. Kate Abbew.

Madam Obuobia, who spoke extensively in an interview with The Herald in her office last Monday, explained that the compensation was made “on humanitarian grounds”.

She noted that even before the final warning notice was served on occupants of the land to vacate, their leadership politely met with officials of the Free Zones Board and were in friendly talks with management for assistance to relocate.

These discussions she said, greatly helped management to adopt safety measures to involve relevant agencies, like the national security, NADMO and other institutions to make the eviction a success story.

She disclosed that the GH¢10, 000 was handed over to leadership of the squatters, who had formed an Association called Afariwaa Junction Tradesmen Association. It has Jacob Lartey as chairman, Mr. Ayenbena T. Sunday as Assistance Chairman, Charles Kodjo Wuashie as the Secretary and Samuel Anim as Assistance Secretary.

A tall list in possession of The Herald detailing names, occupation and telephone numbers of members of the Association gave membership as 164. The list also had the signatures and thumbprints of the members.

A visit by The Herald to the site, revealed all illegal structures erected on the land have been pulled down, except a certain school, Saint Educational Complex, which had been spared.

The school, which has about 400 students’ population, including final year Basic Education Certificate Examination (B.E.CE) candidates has been spared, but was given up to June, this year, after its BECE candidates had finished writing their final exams, to vacate the land.

The decision to give the school a grace period became necessary, following a mutual agreement reached between school Authorities and Management of Free Zones Board.

Prior to the eviction, there was been a back-and-forth dispute between Regent of Ashaiman and some encroachers on one hand and the management of the Board on the other hand over ownership, despite High Court and Appeal Court judgments in favour of GFZB.

About three weeks ago, the Free Zones Board at a media briefing announced that it badly needed the land for the construction of a modern residential enclave for free zones investors.

Meanwhile, The Herald’s information is that the residential enclave, projected to provide suitable accommodation for over 260 free zone companies and investors for lease, is expected to commence very soon, after a sod cutting ceremony by President John Mahama.

The contract, this paper is reliably informed, has been awarded to a very competent local company, which had already made huge financial commitment toward the execution of the project.

The contractor, this paper gathered has since moved to the project site, clearing the debris in preparation for a speedy construction work to begin, but in phases.

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