Thursday, 11 May 2017

Encroachment On Ghana Broadcasting Corporation Lands

The Ghana Broadcasting Corporation was established on 31st July 1935. Up till now, it is the only public service broadcaster in the country providing essential services to the nation and citizens.

For many years, it has contributed and continues to contribute to the social, economic, political and cultural advancement of Ghana.

From a humble beginning as a relay radio station, the corporation can now boast of six television channels and 15 radio stations scattered across the length and breadth of Ghana.

One significant feature of GBC, is its deliberate and carefully calculated attempt to serve all segments of the society. 
In that regard, it broadcasts in English, which is the official language of the state, in addition to the major Ghanaian languages including Ewe, Akan, Ga, Dagbanli and Nzema. In the regions, the corporation broadcasts in the main languages spoken.

In view of this reality, GBC continues to serve a wide range of audience despite the plurality of the media. 
It is however sad that in spite of the laudable services the state broadcaster renders the nation, the corporation is bleeding profusely financially.

As a result, the corporation has been compelled to venture into what can best be described as a hybrid system where it undertakes both commercial and public service.

It was only recently that parliament approved new TV license fees to be charged by the Corporation. Perhaps, the biggest challenge confronting GBC presently may not be obsolete equipment which results in frequent breaks in transmission but rather the level of encroachment on its lands.

Arguably, GBC is the State agency with the largest size of land in the country. It has vast lands in each regional capital and in almost every district in Ghana.

Most of the lands acquired by government for use by GBC were located in the outskirts of towns and villages. However, with the passing of time and rapid urbanisation, most of those areas have become prime and can now be found in the middle of cities and towns.

As a result, GBC lands are targets of serious encroachment by individuals, traditional authorities and even state agencies. A cursory look at the original map of GBC lands throughout the country has revealed serious encroachment.

This development was made easier sadly because the Corporation no longer operates from most of those areas. GBC nevertheless needs those lands for future development, for instance for the setting up of community radio stations.

It is therefore imperative that the Corporation takes every necessary step to retrieve and protect all its lands. Of late, GBC lands in Akwatia, Bortianor, Weija, Goaso, Wa, Akatsi and Hohoe have been in the news for one reason or the other.

There have been speculations in the media that the Corporation itself is selling parts of its lands to individuals. It is for instance alleged that the Corporation has sold its land at Akwatia in the Eastern Region to the former MP Baba Jamal.

Management has however denied the allegations. The truth is, no individual in GBC, not even the Director General nor the Board Chairman can sell any GBC land, which is in reality for the state.

Regarding the Akwatia land, the truth is, GBC through its Board and Management, entered into an agreement with the Denkyembour District Assembly, where the two parties will swap lands.

In that regard, the Assembly will use the Corporation's land in Akwatia for a school project as the Corporation is given a replacement land elsewhere. GBC is a state institution, and therefore government has a duty to ensure that the integrity of the corporation's lands is kept intact at all times.

In this vein, the Lands Commission and the Town and Country Planning unit of each District Assembly have a sacred responsibility to protect GBC lands everywhere from encroachment.

The Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies must refrain from issuing building and development permits to individuals to develop property on GBC lands.

In cases where any property is developed on any GBC land without permit, the Assemblies must move in quickly to stop such projects or demolish them as the case may be.

The corporation must also not sit aloof and look on helplessly as its lands are encroached upon.

It must continue with its collaboration with the National Security Task Force on Governments Lands, and the District Assembles to demolish illegal structures on its lands. Even though it may require a lot of financial injection, the corporation must look for the resources to fence all its remaining lands.

Going into the future, the corporation must look at entering into a Private Public Partnership arrangement with individuals or corporate entities for its lands to be developed.

This will not only ensure that the lands are protected but also serve as a major source of badly needed revenue for the efficient running of the corporation, especially at this time that GBC has been penciled to be taken off government subvention.GBC, the authentic and trusted voice of Ghana.

BY BUBU KLINOGO A JOURNALIST

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