Tema-Akosombo RailwayProject In Danger …Residents To Halt Construction After 21 Days If…
Final works on the 97.6km Tema-Mpakadan railway project that passed through Akosombo,Senchi and New Akrade, under Asuogyaman District,in the Eastern Region, are set to suffer a needlessdelay, if immediate steps are not taken to avert the situation,The Anchor can report.
This is because residents of New Akrade and Senchiwho have been affected by the railway line construction are up in arms, threatening to halt the project and sack all workers from site, if government failsto pay their compensations within 21-days.
Theaggrieved residents, led by the queen-mother of Akrade,Nana Samanko III, and the Ahenemahene of New Akrade, during a demonstration,say several attempts to receive compensations for their25-acrelandcompulsorily taken away from them have proved futile.
They accused authorities of treating them with disrespect, leaving themfrustratedas many engagements between them, the Lands Evaluation Division of the Lands Commission, and the Railway Development Ministry for the past four years have not yielded results.
“It is frustrating, if government officials will do this to us…their own fellow Ghanaians, then I don’t know where we are going. It’s not fine, if government officials can do this to their own fellow Ghanaians,” Nana Seth Afari,the chairman of the aggrieved residents, told The Anchorin a phone interview.
According to him, “as a matter of fact, if we don’t get the money within the next three weeks, we will go and stop the work. We will go there and sack all the workers. It will be illegal, but we will do it, so that the police and the army should come and beat us and kill us. What they are doing is even more illegal than what we will be doing. We won’t ask for any permission. That’s what we can do. We won’t stop until we are paid.
“You owe somebody four years ago, the land should have even been paid for before they start work. When the Minister came, we told him that, you should pay for the land compensation, and everything and have the way clear before you go on. Now you took people’s land and then, you are not paying. We know they have the police and the army behind them, but we don’t mind,” he lamented.
The angry residents, numbering over 100, during the protest last Tuesday, September 20, noted that, the undue delay in settling their compensation for the land is hindering their relocation, coupled with the associated impact on water and community roads.
The protesters,who were holding various placards to convey their displeasure, said the delay in making the payment is affecting their livelihoods.
Some of the placards read: ‘Pay Us now,’ ‘Railways Ministry Pay Us,’ ‘Ye ne Abre’ and ‘We need our Land Compensation.’
The queen-mother, Nana Samanko III, was worried about the silence of the Railway Development Ministry on the land compensation.
“My people need to be paid their land compensation, it’s been too long. The roads in my community have worsened, we can hardly get access to potable water to drink too.”
The affected residents said the delay of the land compensation has affected their relocation plans and livelihood.
“The land compensation money has unduly delayed, only the structures have been paid for. We need the full money to enable us to continue our livelihood and our project where we have relocated. Cost of materials keeps increasing, how do we survive? We will be forced to stop the work and picket at the Railways Ministry if they fail to respond to our demand in 21 days.”
Another resident also noted: “The houses close to the project are in danger, beneath are cracks developing from the project. We fear they may cave in soon because we see cracks in rocks down there.”
Meanwhile, the chairman of the group, Nana Afari,later handed a four-paged petition to the Asuogyamandistrict chief executive, Samuel Kwame Agyekum.
He explained that engagements between them, the Lands Evaluation Division of the Lands Commission, and the Railway Development Ministry, for the past four years, have not yielded results.
“Since our lands were acquired by EI 23 of 2019 for the construction of the Tema-Mpakadan railway line project, we had no option but to clear our land for this important national project. A year later in August and September 2020, our crops and buildings were valued and paid with the exception of two structures and two crop farms whose owners rejected the valuations. Our lands remained unpaid for a very long time despite several demands from the Lands Valuation Division of the Lands Commission.”
He added: “We are by this petition expressing our utmost dissatisfaction of the government’s unacceptable delay in paying us our land compensation contrary to the requirements of law for prompt payment of compensation for Lands acquired from citizens for public use. We also see the continuous delay in paying us a deliberate and calculated attempt to deny us of our constitutional rights.
“We strongly feel that our demand for prompt payment of fair and adequate compensation for individual lands compulsorily acquired by the state is a human right guaranteed under Article 20 of the 1992 Constitution and therefore the continuous delay in paying the compensation is a consistent infringement on our human rights.”
The DCE, Mr. Agyekum, asked the affected to exercise restraint as he forwards their demands to the Railway Development Ministry for immediate action.
“I am happy you mentioned it is an important national project. It will benefit us and everyone along the project. I know your land compensation has delayed [but] I urge you to exercise restraint and be patient the money will come.”