There has been a public outcry, following allegations that a state land in the Volta Regional capital of Ho, was sold for GHC41.00 by the Lands Commission.
The said land, alleged to measure about an acre, is located in an area allocated to the Ghana Meteorological Agency, off the Ho-Aflao road.
JoyNews, has intercepted documents covering the lease, which indicated the piece of land, which actually measures 0.52-acres, was leased at a cost of GHC41 monthly for 50 years, and not sold.
Per a letter dated November 2, 2021, the Lands Commission, initially agreed to lease the land at GHC3, 200 per annum, subject to renewal every three years.
The lessee – International Diamond Resort Limited, a hospitality company – was also directed to pay a premium of GHC31, 200 for the land.
However, on November 11, 2021, another letter was addressed to the company, indicating the rent for the 0.52-acre land was reduced to GHC500 annually.
“I am glad to inform you that the ground rent has been reduced from GHC3,200 to GHC500. Kindly pay the said amount and the other fees contained in the offer to enable us to prepare a deed of lease in your favour”, contained in the letter signed by the Volta Regional Lands Officer, Nukunu Nuviadenyo.
A cross-section of the public, has questioned the motive behind leasing state land located in a prime area in Ho ‘at peanuts’ to private developers, who can acquire the land at a higher cost.
Another question is, what informed the decision by the Lands Commission to reduce the rent from GHC3,200 to GHC500.
The public is also surprised about the citing of a high-rise building in a locality where the Ghana Meteorological Agency operates, which they feel may affect the operation of the organisation which provides weather services.
Nonetheless, a rejoinder issued by the Lands Commission, confirmed that the 0.52-acre land was leased for 50 years, but failed to state the rent.
It, however, explained that the reduction of the rent from GHC3, 200 per annum, was informed by negotiations with the lessee, International Diamond Resort Limited.
“The reduction in rent was a product of negotiation; a waiver for the first three (3) years after which the investor pays full rent to the State”, stated the rejoinder.
It also detailed that aside from the rent, there were charges which included premium, development fee, processing fee, and presentation fee.
Others are plotting fee, lease preparation fee, inspection fee and deeds registration fee.
Joy News checks, indicate the charges total about GHC34,000.
The Commission confirmed that all the above charges were paid by the private developer before the land was released, adding that the said land was leased to prevent encroachment of the land and to generate revenue for the State.
“State lands like the Leprosarium acquisitions, School of Hygiene and others have seen uncontrolled encroachments over the years and the user agencies are either complicit or look on while individuals encroach on such lands.
The Commission, therefore, devised a policy as part of its management function, to grant such leases on the peripheries of threatened acquisitions to forestall encroachments of the lands.
The leasehold grant for International Diamond Resort Limited is, therefore, a strategic grant to prevent such encroachments”, the rejoinder stated.
The Commission, however, decried an attempt to lease out an acre of State land by a user agency to a private developer without informing the Commission, and urged the public to be rather concerned about such illegal attempts to rob the state of revenue.
“You will rather be concerned that at the material time a lease of the same piece of land has been made to another private company without notice to the Commission which has the mandate by law”.
Some three weeks ago, The Herald reported that state lands in and around the Volta Regional capital, Ho, have fallen prey to activities of some greedy politicians like the spoils of war.
This paper is informed that the lands are being dished to members of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), the family members, cronies among others.
There are instances where some of the prime lands were bought by these politicians and later sold to private companies, including Melcom Ghana Limited.
The Herald was told that some state officers who were unhappy about the development and complained were transferred out of the region to various parts of the country. They were overnight replaced by ruling party apparatchiks to do the bidding of the political heads.
It is not clear, what Dr Archibald Yao Letsa, Volta Regional Minister, who is a private businessman aside from his politics, is doing about the situation. He has lots of business interests in the regional capital, and allegations are rife in the Ho Municipality that he is complicit in the land grab.
Most state lands around the Ho Sports Stadium to Ring Road, are said to have gone to private individuals.
Also gone to private individuals are lands around the Residency.
A suburb of Ho, called Kabore Nurses Quarters, is also mentioned to have witnessed a massive intrusion of state lands there by private individuals. The Herald learnt that in some instances, state bungalows were said to have been demolished after their occupants were told simply to move out or were relocated to unknown places.
The former State Construction Company (SCC) Yard was mentioned as being sold to a company called, Sika Krobia Limited; importers of Lele Rice. The company is owned by two Lebanese nationals Waseem and Mohammed. They are using the place as a depot for Lele products.
A top politician in the region who is linked to the NPP, is also mentioned to have bought a huge portion of a particular state land owned by the State Transport Company (STC) around the Regional Police Headquarters and sold an acre to Melcom Ghana.
The lands sometimes sold for a pittance are being developed into plush private homes and buildings for commercial purposes.
Interestingly, some documents from the Regional Lands Commission have popped out, indicating that some state lands in Ho Municipality were sold for an outrageous fee of GH₵41.00.
Recently, Accra-based Onuaonline.com, also reported sighting documents showing some aviation lands located at Tragalga in the Ho municipality have been leased to a private entity by name International Diamond Resort Company Limited for 99 years.
The exposé was made by Captain Smart on ‘Maakye’ Monday, on June 20, 2022.
These revelations come in the wake of reports that the state lands in Accra, Tema and other places in the Greater Accra Region, are secretly being allotted to politicians, their family members and cronies of the NPP to blinds the public.
The late ex-NPP General Secretary, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie alias “Sir John” who was found to have grabbed portions of the Achimota Lands and the Sakumo Ramsar Site also known as the Sakumo Lagoon, a wetland of international importance near Tema.
His huge plots of lands in the two protected areas which were in his custody as the Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission, a state institution, but he is said not to be alone.
This paper is informed that the grabbing of the state lands is not limited to Ho and Accra alone but across the country.
The Northern Regional capital, Tamale in particular, is mentioned as one of the places where lots of state lands are also being shared to politicians and their cronies.