The Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Benito Owusu Bio, says it will not relent in its effort to protect the core zone of the Sakumono Ramsar site which has been encroached upon.
According to Mr Bio, the supposed encroachers were exposed to dangers associated with flooding as the lands around the core zone encroached upon were flood-prone.
Mr Bio was speaking with journalists in Accra yesterday when he together with the Chairman of the Regional Security Council (REGSEC), Mr Henry Quartey, the Cheif Executive Officer (CEO) of the Forestry Commission, Mr John Allotey and Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) of Tema West, Mrs Anna Naa Adukwei Addo visited the site.
The purpose of the visit was to access the progress of work, a day after a demolition exercise that took place on Wednesday, where illegal fence walls were pulled down with the help of bulldozers.
“This is not the first time we have been here. We’ve been here before and when we came we actually did a clear demarcation to indicate the area boundary of this place.
That is where settlement can and cannot happen. When you cast your eye over there, you could see that there is a flood prone area but unfortunately, people have just decided to blatantly encroach on it,” he said.
“We have to be careful because this particular area is a protected area and by virtue of the fact that Ghana has signed on to the ramsar conventions, it is our duty to ensure that we protect it and also a flood prone area where in case there is too much flood from the hills of Aburi towards Accra, it can flow peacefully straight into the ocean,” Mr Bio added.
He debunked speculations from critics who claimed the exercise was being done selectively saying “we don’t want to do anything unlawful and as such the REGSEC is going to ground trip along the waterways to mark out structures that are currently within the waterway.”
Going forward, Mr Bio said his outfit would consider erecting pillar or fence walls and the beefing up of the Task Force to protect the site.
Mr Bio indicated that REGSEC would on Monday hold a press conference after the marking had been done to inform the media about the progress made, after which the second phase of the exercise would commence.
For his part, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Forestry Commission, Mr John Allotey, noted that no one had been given a lease to own a land at the site despite some applications handed in per claims being made by some individuals.
According to Mr Allotey, most of the applications were received by the Commission in 2019 when a similar exercise begun after which it was halted due to court injunction.
“I have checked and I have realised that there has been a couple of applications to the Commission. Most of them started coming in when we came in 2019 to start a demolition exercise ,” he said.
“An application doesn’t constitute a lease and the Forestry Commission does not have the capacity to release lands to people. We are to manage the resources and nobody has been given a lease,” Mr Allotey added.
BY BENJAMIN ARCTON-TETTEY.