The Weija Traditional Authority including the Chief and elders have called on government to ensure that compensation due them over the compulsory acquisition of their lands for the Weija dam project is paid.
According to them, the persistent delay in the payment of the compensation by various governments continue to affect them because the community and its population has grown to the extent that they need money and land to meet the ever-increasing demand of infrastructure and population growth.
Addressing a Press Conference at the Stool House at Weija yesterday, the Dzaasetse Nii Ogbedada Boafo Danyinase-Nse I, stressed that the compensation must only be given to the rightful owners since there are some attempts by some government officials who are secretly negotiating with some faceless individuals over the compensation.
He explained that, government in 1977 under Executive Instrument (EI 130) of the State Lands Act, 1962 (Act 125), on the 18th day of November, 1977 declared that the land upon which the dam is situated and other areas is required for the construction of the Weija Water Treatment Plant.
“The dam was constructed in 1978 by an Italian company, Messrs Tahi. It is said to be the second urban water system to be constructed in Ghana, after the Birimso in Cape Coast. The Weija lake covers an area of about 9,000 sq. hectares and serves over 2.5 million people in Accra East and Accra West. It has many communities and villages surrounding it.”
He averred that since 1977 when about 50,000 acres of their land was taken away from by the government through the ministry of water resources works and housing to pave way for the construction of the Weija dam, by the Ghana Water Company Limited, the chiefs and people of Weija are yet to receive any compensation after government had acquired the land.
Dzaasetse Nii Ogbedada Boafo Danyinase-Nse I said for 44 years, successive governments have paid no heed to the situation and hence have been quiet on paying their compensation.
He said: “We are all Ghanaians and all of us must be treated fairly, we are saying this because those whose lands and properties were taken to pave way for the recently built Bui Dam have received their compensations. Why are we been treated like slaves on our own land. This is unfair.”
He chronicled the history about some other acquisitions stating that, “In 199 government acquired 4,550 acres/7.11 sqmls with a compensation of 5,000 Pound Sterling paid to our Titular head, Nii Kojo Ababio IV, Chief of James Town by then. In 1992, SSNIT acquired over 3.5sqmls of land at Dunkoonaa for SSNIT Flats and compensation paid to respective owners. In 1996, government acquired 107.5 acres of land sited at New Weija under Executive Instrument (1) for GIGEL establishment.”
He also made references to other acquisitions in 1995, 1979, 1977.
According to him, the 13,580 acres of land and additional 20 acres adjoining the earlier one was acquired for GWCL for Weija Dam and GWCL Training School, but no compensation has been paid to the traditional authorities.
“These acquisitions have made Weija citizens mere squatters or aliens on their own lands bestowed to them by their ancestors,” he said.
He recalled that during the time of former President John Agyekum Kufuor and late President John Evans Atta Mills, they made several attempts to draw the attention of the government but anytime a new government takes over they are asked to begin the processes from scratch.
This, he described as “frustrating.”
Nii Ogbedada Boafo Danyinase-Nse I also touched on some unhealthy developments at the Weija dam which he said, need urgent and drastic actions.
The biggest threat to the lake he indicated, is encroachment.
According to him people have encroached on the boundaries of the lake with much impunity, grabbing every available space for any activity or venture, damn the consequence on the lake.
“A green belt created to check encroachment has been ignored and people are having a field day with private developmental initiatives. Within the catchment can be found houses by the newly rich who in their quest to acquire properties are prepared to do the unthinkable, flouting every regulation and by law to achieve their objective. Springing up in the green belt are structures of any imaginable size: single storey buildings, palatial mansions, industries, kraals, hotels, ghettoes, mud houses and huts. Indeed, the list is a tall one.”
On the issue of the boundary demarcation, he called on government tohelp settle the boundary issues between Weija, Gbawe and the Ghana Water Company before the situation escalates because, failure to act swiftly and urgently could lead to a clash between agents of these areas who are claiming lands they believe fall within their jurisdiction.
“There have been many instances of violent confrontations between the groups and we want an end through government’s intervention to bring finality to the problem. The Traditional Council notes that some persons have encroached upon some of their stool lands, which is creating tension between them namely Weija, Gbawe and the Ghana water company limited. The time to deal with the boundary demarcations over some lands in dispute is now,” he said.
Nii Ogbedada Boafo Danyinase-Nse said the Ghana Water Company is behaving like the overlords of Weija lands and that, asowners of the lands, they will not tolerate GWCL’s excesses.
“The Weija Community has overgrown and there is the need for government to release portions of the over 50,000-acre land aside from the buffer zone to traditional authorities for development. Our town has become overpopulated and the inhabitants do not have places to lay their heads. They should show us the boundaries for us to know our no-go area. We have made several appeals and we believe it’s time to take action now.”
Pix: Nii Ogbedada Boafo Danyinase-Nse I addressing the media