Thursday, 30 January 2014

The Spate Of Demolition Exercises In Accra

The demolition of about 150 houses at Adjei Kojo by the Tema Development Corporation, TDC, has generated much controversy.

Initial assessment by NADMO indicates that more than 800 people mostly women, children and the aged have been displaced after a team of military and police personnel had demolished houses on lands in the Sraha and King Solomon suburbs.

These lands were acquired by the TDC for the expansion of Tema. The Tema co-ordinating Council of the ruling NDC has subsequently called for the dismissal of the Managing Director of the TDC for supervising the demolition of the houses, thereby causing pain and devastation to the residents.

The NDC wonders why the TDC allowed the residents to completely put up their buildings before the demolition.

Speaking at the presentation of relief items to victims of the exercise, the National Co-ordinator of NADMO, Kofi Portuphy bemoaned the manner in which the exercise had been carried out, stressing that although the TDC might have the right to carry out such exercise, NADMO should have been consulted to effectively handle the plight of the internally displaced persons; adding that the TDC could not be absolved of complicity in the sale of lands to individuals in the affected areas.

According to Mr. Portuphy there is evidence that occupants of the land had paid various sums of money to the TDC and Tema Metropolitan Assembly, and wondered what might have prevented the TDC from dialoguing with the occupants and allodial owners of the land in order to resolve the problem amicably.

Another person to have spoken on the issue is the moderator of the General Assembly of the EP Church, Rt Reverend Francis Amenu.

Speaking at the consecration of new Presbyters for the Abelemkpe district of the Church, Rt Rev. Amenu who is also chairman of the Christian Council of Ghana, urged District Assemblies and other state institutions charged with effecting eviction orders to carry them out with a human face.

He was of the opinion that the TDC could have found alternative means of dealing with the eviction order since some of the victims could have died of shock , having lost such a life time investment.

A school of thought argues that it is about time people who encroached on state lands earmarked for vital projects are made to pay for their recklessness.

They believe state institutions must be allowed to do their work without any interference from any quarter. The law is explicit on such matters. Section 5 of the limitations decree, 1972 (NRCD 54) says a person shall not bring an action after expiration of 12 years from the date on which the cause of action accrued in a case on an instrument under seal.

Even though this is what the law says, it is said that he who comes to equity must come with clean hands. Therefore it is incumbent on the victims, should they go to court, to prove that they have title to the land on which they have built. If not, then their case may be bad.

Generally it is wrong for the TDC to have sat on its rights for people to encroach on its lands in some cases more that 21 years. As we are told, some of the buildings have been on the disputed land for that number of years. This is not to say people should encroach on state lands with impunity.

People must be encouraged to conduct search on proposed land being sold to them. We must ensure that we possess title to lands we acquire. Fortunately Phase Two of the Land Administration Project has taken off in earnest, and it is hoped all anomalies in our land tenure system will be rectified.

The TDC, to all intents and purposes was inhumane in the way it went about the demolition exercise; and NADMO should be commended for assisting the victims with relief items. Even though these might not be enough, it is hoped it will go a along way to assuage their feelings.

The Adjei Kojo demolition coming on the heels of a similar one at Adenta Aviation which claimed a life, would be one too many. Let us explore all avenues for solution before carrying out a demolition order. Lest it becomes the law of the jungle.

BY JUSTICE MINGLE, A JOURNALIST

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