Every person or institution that wants a piece of land for development must first conduct a search at the Lands Commission to ascertain the “true owner of the land” before putting any structures on it, to avert potential future demolition for encroachment, the Deputy Minister advised.
At a news conference in Accra to address Mpehuasem land issues, Mr Owusu-Bio said the Lands Ministry and the Lands Commission were committed to ensuring sanity in the land sector and asked the public to stay off a-60-acre State lands at Mpehuasem and other Government lands across the country.
“This impunity of occupation of State lands must stop,” he emphasised.
In recent times, there have been disturbances at Mpehuasem in East Legon of the Greater Accra Region over parcels of Lands owned by the Government, resulting in violent clashes between the Police and some students at Ideal College.
The Lands Commission subsequently accused Dr Joseph Kobina Essibu, the Proprietor of Ideal College, of encroaching on State-acquired lands in the Mpehuasem enclave.
Mr Owusu-Bio said the Ministry had constituted a 10-member team working to secure the Ramsar Site at Tema, Diary Farms at Amrahia, Pantang Hospital, the CSIR Animal Research Institute, Site for Accra Training College at Mpehuasem and other State lands from encroachment.
“It must be stated that the Land Act, 2020 (Act 1036), section 236 frowns on encroachment on state lands and criminalises such acts.
The Lands Commission as the managers of public/state lands under the 1992 constitution under section 258 is performing its statutory functions to recover the encroached State lands,” the Deputy Minister stated stated.
Meanwhile, Mr James E. Dadson, the Executive Secretary of the Lands Commission, gave an overview of the origin of the Mpehuasem land issues and chronicled measures the successive governments had taken to compensate the pre-acquisition owners of the lands.
He said the Government by an Executive Instrument (E.I. 72) of 1974, compulsorily acquired an approximately 225.18 acres for Accra Training College at Labadi (now Mpehuasem).
This follows a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) the Government signed with the pre-acquisition owners Djirase Family of La and Numoo Nmashie Family of Teshie in December 2008.
The Government, in lieu of compensation, released 114.055 acres to the owners and retained 111.125 acres of the land. Thus, E.I. 72 has been revoked by Executive Instrument (E.I. 16) of 2009, Mr Dadson explained.
In view of that, he said, the Accra Training College fenced off and occupied approximately 50 acres of the 111.125 acres retained by Government.
However, over the years, some unknown persons resorted to alienating and developing part of the retained land outside the walls of the Collegehe stated.
“The Lands Commission conducted drone surveys of the area to ascertain the level of development and the Land Use and Spatial Planning Authority (LUSPA) was engaged to prepare a local plan for the area.
“This was to ensure orderly development of the area for conducive habitation for academic work for both the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA) and the Accra College of Education,” Mr Dadson stated.
He said the survey revealed that the enclave was developing, and a larger part was covered with unauthorized temporary walls and wooden structures occupied by squatters.
The local plan, he explained zoned the Government area outside the Accra Training College measuring approximately 60 acres as mixed use with 30 percent of the land dedicated to creation of access.
Mr Dadson stated that the local plan was approved on 22nd June, 2021 by the Spatial Planning Committee of the Ayawaso West Municipal Assembly.
Therefore, the Commission, under the auspices of the Lands Ministry, contracted Messers Aynok Holdings Limited to assist in the recovery of all the encroached lands and provide protection of the site to deter encroachments for implementation of the local plan, Mr Dadson stated.
“The Commission has given several notices since 2010 to persons engaged in these encroachments including Ideal College, the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA) hostel and several churches. The last being a Press Release on 16th April, 2022 and Public Notice of demolition posted within the area in April, 2022,” he added.
Mr Dadson stated that the Commission was acting under Section 236 of the Land Act, 2020 (Act 1036) to recover those lands.