Free Zone Board Gives Encroachers A Week’s Ultimatum

GFZB PixThe Ghana Free Zones Board (GFZB) has given one-week ultimatum to encroachers on its Tema Community 21 land to vacate the place immediately to avert any forceful ejection by the board.

“We are taking this opportunity to give the encroachers, who have still not vacated the land the final warning to do so by Friday, February 21, 2014, or face the consequences of their default,” Ms. Obuobia Darko-Opoku, Acting Deputy Executive Secretary of GFZB, warned.

The 152-acre land had been earmarked by the board for the development of a world-class residential enclave which would commence by the end of the first quarter of this year. The project is expected to create jobs for artisans and other professionals in the real estate industry.

Briefing the media in Accra yesterday Ms.  Darko-Opoku said that the encroachers were put on notice to vacate the land by January 31, 2014, but their surveillance had revealed that only a few had complied.

“The encroachers are auto mechanics, traders, farmers, churches, schools and some squatters who have put up some wooden and mid-shift structures on the land,” she said and urged them to abide by the directive and vacate the land.

Ms. Darko-Opoku explained that the Community 21 land which had been declared a free zone area was part of land compulsorily acquired by the colonial government in 1952 and the acquisition was carried out by the Tema Town and Port (Acquisition of Land) Ordinance (No.38 of 1952).

“The colonial government in 1956 demised the land to the Tema Development Corporation (TDC). As at 1972, the TDC had still not developed Community 21 and therefore granted agricultural leases to some farmers. The term granted varied from tenant to tenant but the highest term was 21 years,”she said.

She added that: “The TDC did not renew the leases upon expiration and wrote to all the farmers to cease all agricultural activities on the land and vacate the land by the end of 1996. Some of the farmers complied and vacated the land.”

Ms. Darko-Opoku mentioned that the President of Ghana, in 1997, duly declared Community 21 a free zone residential enclave in accordance with section 7 (1) of the Free Zone Act, 1995 (Act 504) and accordingly, the land was fenced with barb wire to ward off encroachers.

She said GFZB was at the verge of leasing the land to a free zone developer to transform it into a first-class residential estate when a suit was filed by 17 farmers who did not want to vacate the land.

According to her, “the 17 farmers claimed against TDC, a declaration that TDC was not entitled to re-enter their respective lands and an order for perpetual injunction restraining TDC from re-entering”.

Ms. Darko-Opoku said, GFZB was joined in the suit as co-defendant and on October 29, 2004, the Tema High Court gave judgment in favour of TDC and GFZB, stressing that, GFZB was adjudged the rightful owner of the Community 21 land.

“Being dissatisfied with the High Court’s decision, the farmers appealed to the Court of Appeal. On July 17, 2008, the court unanimously affirmed the High Court decision and dismissed the appeal filed by the farmers. GFZB has to date not been served with a notice of appeal and the time for appealing has long elapsed,” she said. By Joseph Edu Archison


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