Last Wednesday, the Greater Accra Regional Minister made a strong statement about encroachment on government lands with impunity.
He certainly did that out of a sense of frustration, considering the level of impunity that is becoming the culture among land goons, Lands Commission cartels, traditional authorities and pig-headed elements in our society today.
In an apparent fit of anger, he used force to evict several hundreds of families who had seen themselves as residents and developers, only to be told that they were encroachers on lands belonging to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
The CSIR lands had been in the news since the exit of JJ Rawlings from the corridors of power, when a top PNDC official was said to have annexed part of the land to construct an office that briefly appeared to be preaching conflict resolution.
Unfortunately, we as citizens cannot assure ourselves that unlawful springing up of structures and communities will not be a recurring event.
For reasons that are difficult to fathom, Accra is certainly gaining notoriety for harbouring land criminals, with gatekeepers of the state often waiting for a long time before making efforts to stop their acts of impunity.
It is embarrassing when our local government agencies, who have the map of every community, and tasked with planning, look the other way when residents, for instance, create their own refuse dumps, neigbourhood markets, taxi ranks and vehicle mechanic workshops without permits.
Of course, it is equally strange that some Ghanaians, in their search for places to lay their heads, would ignore caution and invest in homes, when they have not done enough due diligence. It is worse when traditional leaders or their assigns engage in acts of complicity that culminate in the citizenry being treated to what we saw last Wednesday.
Arguably, elements in the Survey Department and Lands Commission who keep tracking ‘idle lands’ in Accra and drawing people’s attention to them are the worst offenders who deserve censure for selling off the nation’s lands for a pittance.
Investing in a home today is no joke. The sight, therefore, of watching houses go down in a fit of state anger may be heart-breaking. But that is essentially because somebody fail to do his work.
We build communities and nations by first building people. We do not develop by gleefully engaging in demolitions. We have gone past that era.
But the saga of last Wednesday’s demolition, which was led by the Regional Minister, should elicit some collective vigilance.
Citizens and residents as well as traditional rulers owe it a collective duty to assist our local government agencies deliver tidy communities. That is the duty of the planning officers who we employ to monitor the community and environment to see if their planning is in symmetry with the by-laws.
It is the opinion of the Daily Statesman that every citizen needs to fall in step with the laws on land acquisition, with the local government authorities showing the way, instead of only waiting to become the ‘demolition agents’ in such face-saving exercises.