Henry Quartey Warns Ramsar Encroachers

HOUSES BUILT within the core zone of the Ramsar sites in Accra will be demolished to pave way for the water to find its way into the Sakumono Lagoon and into the sea.

The disclosure was made to the media by the Greater Accra Regional Minister and Chairman of the Regional Security Council, Henry Quartey, after inspecting the level of encroachment on the wetland at Tema last Thursday.

The Regional Minister, appalled by the extent of encroachment in the area stated, “All the institutions here should furnish me with the documents needed for further action. We know apart from the demarcated area, there are other state lands here which have been encroached upon by people, but I am assuring them that we will come after all of them guided by the Lands Act 1036.”

The Ramsar site is internationally recognised and supposed to hold water from different parts of the country, which transit into the sea.

A large chunk of the land has been encroached upon by developers, resulting in floods in communities due to the blockage of water into the lagoon.

According to the Forestry Commission, the Government of Ghana acquired 4,200 acres of the Ramsar site in 1998. The Ramsar site consist of buffer, transition, and core land. The buffer and transition are all encroached, and out of the 1,200 acres of the core land, 700 acres have been encroached upon and the remaining 500 is been filled with sand for development.

In addition, the Municipal Chief Executive of Tema West, Anna Adukwei Addo, disclosed that the over 4,000 houses sitting on the Ramsar site are developed without a permit, and pay no revenue to the government, using electricity and water.

The trip afforded the minister an opportunity to have a firsthand knowledge of the encroachment.

The wetlands consists of about 3,000 acres of land extending from the Tema Beach Road into the Sakumono Lagoon, Sakumono Village behind Emef Estate.

Thomas Nana Bayansford Acquah, the Site Manager of the Sakumo Ramsar site, who led the team, explained that the area which was acquired by the state in 1998 is a preserve for various species of migratory birds and also serves as a receptacle for rainwater from Aburi, Ashaiman and the mountainous areas into the sea.

That purpose, he said, has however been threatened due to encroachment of large portions of land by some individuals.

He, therefore, appealed to the team to act swiftly to demolish structures already developed in the area and take legal action against occupants on the land to prevent flooding in Accra, especially in the nearby communities as a result of the lack of waterway for the rainwater.

Technical Advisor to the CEO of the Forestry Commission, Mr. David Kpelle, told journalists that plans by the Forestry Commission to develop the area into an eco-tourism site capable of generating a substantial amount of revenue for the state in future could be thwarted if the state fails to act swiftly, as encroachers continue to injunct them from taking action against them for developing the site.

He, therefore, dismissed suggestions of any form of regularisation for residents in an area non-habitable for human beings.

BY Ebenezer K. Amponsah