The Herald’s investigations into the demolishing exercise carried out by the Tema Development Corporation (TDC), has unearthed some very shocking inaccuracies in the claims of the so-called victims and politicians on the side of both the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP).
Incumbent Member of Parliament for Tema West, Lawyer Irene Naa Torshie Addo of the NPP and the NDC man struggling to unseat her, Ofosu Ampofo, have in the interest of votes, hidden the truth and virtually given their blessings to a wanton rape of state lands, armed attacked, development of slums and other criminal activities at Adjei Kojo, a suburb of Ashaiman near Tema.
Firstly, The Herald discovered that only 65 illegal structures were demolished and not 300 mansions or luxurious houses, as being churn out by the “victim-loving” media men and politicians.
Indeed, the state-land in question, were sold by the heavily armed land guards, foreigners and private individuals, operating under the claim that they are descendents of a dead chief of Tema, Nii Oniku II.
The criminal activities of the armed land guards, led by one Solomon, who runs an area called “Solomon City”, Nigeriens and individuals, have led to TDC losing a massive 905 acres originally designated as Tema Community 23 and Tema Community 24, respectively, the TDC. Presently has less than 10 acres of land left for its intended projects.
Indeed, a recent survey, shockingly revealed that an occupied area of 905.82 acres, not a single person paid a pesewa to TDC for the acquisition. Currently TDC is selling its serviced plots for GH¢30, 000.
Over 300 nurses and other health workers, as well as civil servants, have falling victim to the criminal activities of these fraudsters. About ¢1.5 billion were collected from them by the fraudsters on the pretext of giving them plots, which turned out to be TDC lands. The Cooperation is trying to salvage the situation by offering them another land which must be paid for, but most of them have no money.
Secondly, the houses in question The Herald observed were mostly wooden structures with a lot of uncompleted houses some of which were not even roofed at the time they were demolished.
Some of these illegal structures served as a den for criminals and foreigners, from whom weapons and ammunitions were retrieved by state Security Officers, during the demolishing exercise.
Thirdly, the demolishing exercise was not arbitrary. It was planned over three years, as much as three notices were served on the builders, owners and occupants of the wooden and uncompleted structures, before they were eventually razed down last week by the TDC and a taskforce, made up of military, police and personnel of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI).
The Herald’s information was that prior to the exercise, TDC had established a complaint desk inviting legal tittles to the said lands from the occupants to submit their documents for verification, but nobody showed up.
Additionally, invitations from the National Security Secretariat to the so-called descendants of the late Nii Oniku II to submit their documents for confirmation also fell flat.
Rationale for exercise
“TDC as part of its mandate was tasked to provide 25 self-serving Communities. Communities 23 and 24 are part of these Communities, but unfortunately before development activities could reach these areas, the lands had been taken over by land guards and persons, parading themselves as chiefs”, the TDC has explained in a three-page document sent to The Herald by its Head of Communication, Dorothy Asare-Kumah.
It said, “following the successful execution of the survey exercise conducted by the 48 Engineers Regiment in the area, the Corporation agreed to regularize over 3,000 houses in the area covering a total acreage of 905 acres of encroached land. It was, however, made clear to the residents at a meeting organized last year that if there are structures in places that will affect the layout in the area, those structures will have to be removed”.
“In the light of this development it became clear that some structures would have to be demolished and these fell into three major categories” of those on water course, those on road corridor and those on schemed project sites, the Corporation stated in the document.
It reiterated that “indeed, notices given to occupants of such structures first started with a demand for land papers and building permit, a warning to remove the structure, and a final warning (which in this case was given at least two times). These notices were served in 2011, 2012, 2013 and the final one leading to the exercise in January 2014”.
It revealed that “altogether the area demolished was less than 10 acres as against 905 acres of encroached lands earmarked for regularization”.
It lamented “controlling encroachment activities in these areas have been hellish for the Corporation which is mindful of its limitations as a public institution. The Adjei Kojo village and the TDC area (not in any way affected by the exercise and so could not have been reduced to rubble as alleged by the Daily Graphic report of January 24) is a good example of challenges facing the Corporation”.
“When TDC attempted to initiate development in the Adjei Kojo village some years ago, the sub-chiefs and some affected persons took TDC to court and an injunction was placed on both parties not to go to the area until the case was determined. While TDC complied with the court order, the other party being residents of the area continued their development in blatant disregard for the court’s order” it disclosed.
“Eventually when the Appeals Court upheld the judgment in favour of TDC all the lands had been taken and then appeals for dealing with encroachers ‘with a human phase’ started coming in. TDC decided to regularize the area for them which had now been encroached way beyond the Adjei Kojo village into the whole of Community 23 and the Community 24 project area” it said.
“A recent survey put that whole area due for regularization at 905.82 acres and not a single person in this area pays a pesewa to TDC”, it further revealed.
It said “contrary to the position held by the Daily Guide report of January 23 questioning where TDC was when seven years ago people were building only to now demolish the houses, it would have known by a simple check of the facts that seven years ago the case was in court and an injunction had been placed on both parties from going to the area”.
Land guard activity
“After the court ruling it has become practically impossible for TDC to control development in these areas since its unarmed Task Force has often come under heavy attack by heavily armed land guards operating in the area”, the document said.
“The most recent attack happened on December 6, 2013 when during a routine patrol of the area, the Task Force stopped to caution an illegal developer. They were immediately surrounded by about 60 armed men and in the ensuing struggle for freedom a member of the team who saw a cutlass descending towards his neck decided to block it off with his hand and ended up with a near-severed wrist”, it said.
“These incessant attacks on TDC makes it difficult for any work to be done in the area which was the reason why it could not use its own Survey Staff to survey the area to be regularized and had to contract the 48 Engineers Regiment at high cost to undertake that exercise for the benefit of the same people”.
“TDC’s Site & Services development in the area suffered a similar invasion leading to a demolition exercise last year, to remove such encroachers especially from the access road linking the two communities to the Accra-Tema motorway.
As a mitigating measure TDC decided to build rental terrace houses for persons who were affected by that exercise while some received pieces of land for development”.
“The encroachment has eventually reduced TDC’s project site to a little under 350acres”.
“There have been allegations of paper work and money paid to TDC by some of the affected persons.
TDC wishes to emphatically state that NO PAYMENT has been made to it by any of the persons living in the affected areas.
For TDC to receive ground rent payment then it must have issued an offer letter, a site plan and a right of entry letter”.
“We however ask that if there be any affected persons who have title to the land as per an offer letter, right of entry and a site plan and the requisite building permit covering the structure and who have been affected by this exercise, they should produce these documents to TDC and we will accept the liability so incurred. We are confident that not a single person can do that”.
“As a matter of record, TDC wishes to state that even where allocations have been made to traditional authority (in this case it would have been to the Tema Traditional Council which is the paramouncy and the legitimate council that TDC deals with on such matters) there are clear procedures for such allocation of lands to individuals”.
“It starts with the filling of the requisite forms provided by the Traditional Council, which is signed by the appropriate signatories before it is forwarded to TDC to continue with the other processes of giving title to the land”.
“TDC does not deal with divisional or other stools on these matters except the Paramount Stools/Traditional Councils.
It is the Corporation’s view that it has done all that is humanly possible to make the exercise as minimally damaging as it can be and hopes that in the end the community will be better placed to live in a properly planned manner that offers order and convenience to the residents”. More to come!