The makeshift shelter occupied by the students
A school project meant to accommodate over 400 Junior High school (JHS) students at Achimota Anglican School has been halted due to an ongoing land dispute between the Church of Pentecost and the Anglican Church.
This has resulted in the relocation of all the Junior High School students to attend classes in a wooden makeshift shelter on the school compound.
DAILY GUIDE’s investigation indicates that one of the unit blocks which was occupied by the JHS students was demolished by the Okaikwei North Municipal Assembly to construct a new classroom block due to the poor state of the old structure.
But the Assembly which had mobilised all the resources for the contractor to begin with the construction of the new classroom block had to stop work on the land upon an injunction suit from the Church of Pentecost and the Anglican Church.
The three-acre land under dispute currently houses a kindergarten and a primary school, while the Church of Pentecost sits on one part.
Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) of Okaikwei North, Nii Boye Laryea, confirmed the ongoing litigation on the land between the Church of Pentecost, Achimota Central and Anglican Church in an interview with DAILY GUIDE. He said the government through the Municipal Assembly awarded a contract sum of GH₵4,090,986,44 million for the construction of the new classroom block.
He said the new 18-unit classroom block was meant to replace the old structure which was in a deplorable state to help accommodate the students, and also admit the increasing number of students that seek enrolment at the school every academic year.
According to the MCE, immediately the contractor pulled down the old block and began collecting the debris, he was served with a court injunction not to continue with any development on the land.
He said construction of the school block which was expected to start in 2019, has stalled till date due to the injunction initiated by the Church of Pentecost.
He also bemoaned how the contractor has lost most of the building materials such as iron rods at the site to thieves.
He said, “The Chief with the support of some of the community members are protecting some of the construction materials after several of them were stolen, but like I said, there is little we can do now except to wait for the verdict from the court before we can make progress.”
He stated that apart from the challenge the school has to grapple with to accommodate the large number of students who occupy the makeshift structure, it also has financial implications on the cost of the project as a result of the continuous increases in the price of building materials, cost of labour, among other factors.
Checks at the school show that apart from the students being deprived of quality education and a decent place to study, they lack toilet facilities, and a staff common room.
Lawyer for the Church of Pentecost, Adjei Gyamfi, told DAILY GUIDE that a letter was written to the Okaikwei North Municipal Assembly not to start construction on the land, but it was ignored.
He stated that the church, therefore, had to resort to the court for redress as several efforts to settle the matter failed.
He said, “There is a dispute between Anglican Church and the Church of Pentecost (COP) in respect to the entire parcel of land. We wanted them to stop putting up the wooden structure on that parcel of land. COP is in court with the Anglican Church for a determination to be made as to who owns the land since Anglican claims ownership of the entire three-acre land.
“The Church of Pentecost, Achimota, acquired this piece of land several years ago but decided to use part of the land to put up the building. The demolished school block was put up by the Ministry of Education and financed by GETFUND. Before the structure was put up, the Ministry of Education asked that the school should be constructed while the two churches work on settlement of ownership of the land.”
He explained that though the Anglican Church, represented by Rev. Fr. Woode, Lawyer for the Anglican Church, Blaise Amartey and former General Secretary of the Church of Pentecost, Apostle Alexander Kumi Larbi, met and drew up terms of settlement, both parties could not settle the issue.
The lawyer stated that attempts to settle the issue with the involvement of various stakeholders since the Anglican Church expressed interest to acquire the land from COP has not yielded the desired results.
Though Bishop of the Anglican Church, Rev. Fr. Woode failed to comment on the case, asking us to wait for the court’s decision, he, however, acknowledged the ongoing feud between the two churches over ownership of the land.
Some individuals at the Okaikwei North Municipal Assembly who corroborated the long held dispute between the Church of Pentecost and the Anglican Church pleaded with the government to intervene to resolve the five-year land dispute that has deprived students of Achimota Anglican School of quality education.
By Ebenezer K. Amponsah