The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has started a nationwide exercise to reclaim state lands illegally occupied by individuals, businesses and organisations.
As part of the exercise, the ministry has entered into a partnership with the security agencies and Anyok Holdings Limited, a private development company, to undertake “approved demolition exercises” and prosecute encroachers of state lands, especially in the Greater Accra Region.
The lands to be reclaimed include those belonging to Achimota School and the University of Ghana, the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH), the Afienya site for urban renewal and industrial enclave and road reservations, especially the Accra-Tema Motorway.
Others are commercial agricultural sites such as the Diary Farms for the Ministry of Food and Agriculture at Danfa, Oyarifa, Kweiman and Amrahia.
The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, who announced this at a news conference in Accra last Friday, stressed that the ministry had decided to be ruthless in its approach because encroachers of state lands had become “recalcitrant” over the years.
He said although various steps had been taken, including dialogue, engagements and periodic demolitions in some areas to curb encroachment activities, some people and groups still had the penchant for illegal occupation and use of state-acquired lands.
The move to crack down on the encroachers, according to Mr Asomah-Cheremeh, was the best alternative to stop individuals and groups from arrogating to themselves the right to take over and develop the lands without authorisation.
He said attempts made by the government through statutory bodies such as the Judiciary, the Lands Commission and metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs), as well as the security agencies, to ensure that land resources were protected had not yielded the desired results.
“These unauthorised and illegal activities have resulted in a major threat to life and property as well as the government’s flagship projects such as the one-district, one-factory (1D1F); the provision of shelter for citizens and achieving opportunities for investors.
“The ministry is warning all who are engaged in this act to desist from it, failure of which will not only result in demolition of structures but also the prosecution of offenders,” he stressed.
The minister urged members of the public to seek expert advice and authenticate intended land transactions from the Lands Commission to avoid losses.
Mr Asomah-Cheremeh noted that the land bill seeking to harmonise all land legislation was currently before Parliament and would help deal with most of the challenges in the land sector upon its passage into an act.
He also said the mandated state agencies would collaborate and roll out bold steps to address age-old challenges such as the multiple sale of land, boundary disputes among land holding groups; construction without approved permits, building on watercourses and road reservations, as well as the use of land guards to disrupt peace and order.
The minister further indicated that the ministry had put in place a system to redress the grievances of persons whose land had been acquired by the state and yet to be compensated.
“The doors of the Lands ministry and its agencies are open and any member of the public who has any grievance on the management of state lands can contact the client service and access unit of the Lands Commission or the Technical Directorate for Lands at the ministry for redress,” he said.
UPSA land dispute
Responding to a question for updates on the impasse between the Lands Ministry and the University for Professional Studies Accra (UPSA) over a parcel of land, Mr Asomah-Cheremeh said the issue was being handled by National Security.
He, however, said checks at the Lands Commission had shown that there was no evidence that the UPSA had legally acquired the parcel of land at the centre of the dispute.
“The university claimed to have acquired the land but when we visited the files, we realised that the land is still state property,” he said.