Aggrieved staff of the Aburi Botanical Garden in the Akuapem South District of the Eastern region have announced that they will use all legal means to stop the recent encroachment of the Garden by the District Chief Executive (DCE), Kwadwo Afari-Gyan.
The aggrieved staff, comprising junior and senior staff made this known when they conducted DAILY GUIDE round parts of the forest on Sunday, May 18, 2014 at Aburi.
The staff explained that the stand-off between them and the DCE started with the creation of the Akuapem South District.
They stated that the former Eastern Regional Minister, Ofosu Ampofo proposed the Horticultural School within the Garden for the construction of temporary assembly offices, which was adhered to.
They further explained that during the Local Government Minister’s tour of the newly-created assembly, Mr Afari-Gyan urged him to impress upon the management of the Garden to donate portions of the land to the Assembly for the construction of offices.
They said they were surprised that the DCE ignored all proper negotiations.
They alleged that the DCE encroached upon the forest reserve and contracted chainsaw operators to fell trees which had existed for more than 100 years.
They identified the species of tree that were destroyed as ‘Asia,’ Emire,’ Ofram’ and ‘Dahoma.’
The security personnel at the Garden and some senior staff arrested the chainsaw operators and handed them over to the Police but they were released on the orders of the DCE.
They said after the incident, the senior staff of the Garden and the Assembly were summoned to a meeting with the Deputy Local Government Minister, Baba Jamal, who advised the parties to negotiate and follow due process.
Staff of the Aburi Botanical Garden claimed the DCE took advantage of the President’s visit recently to the region to cut the sod for the construction of the offices of the Assembly.
They said they also proposed a new site to the DCE but he ignored it.
According to them, the DCE alleged that management of the Gardens also fell trees in the Garden.
However, management explained that the trees were fell based on an agreement with the Cocoa Research Institute (CRIG) at Bonsu to revamp the Tetteh Quarshie Cocoa Nursery located within the Garden, which was started in 1900.
The National Director of Parks and Gardens, Natongma Adams recommended that the assembly retains 50% percent of the sawn lumber while management of the Garden retains the other 50% but the DCE threatened to dismiss all staff of the Garden.
They said the 160-acre Aburi Botanical Garden land was donated by the Presbyterian Missionaries in 1848 to the colonial administration for the construction to promote eco-tourism and research work.
It said only 35 acres of the land had been used.
A technical staff of the Aburi Botanical Garden bemoaned the construction of the Assembly’s offices in the Garden.
By Solomon Ofori
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