Vacate or face our wrath -Free Zones Board warns encroachers

The Ghana Free Zones Board (GFZB) has served notice to encroachers on its land at Tema Community 21 to vacate by February 21, 2014, or face the wrath of the board.

Currently, the 152-acre stretch of land, which was declared a free zone residential enclave in 1997 by the government, is being occupied by auto mechanics, traders, churches, schools and other squatters who have put up structures.

Their activities are, therefore, hindering the construction of a residential enclave expected to create jobs for artisans and other professionals in the real estate industry. The land battle between GFZB and the encroachers

Addressing a news conference in Accra, the acting Deputy Executive Secretary of GFZB, Mrs Obuobia Darko Opoku, recalled that the land at Tema Community 21 was part of lands compulsorily acquired by the colonial government in 1952 under the Tema Town and Port (Acquisition of Land) Ordinance (No.38 of 1952).

Subsequently, she said in 1956, the colonial government demised the land to the Tema Development Corporation (TDC), but as of 1972, the TDC had still not developed it and, therefore, granted agricultural leases to some farmers which varied from tenant to tenant for a duration of 21 years.

“The offer letters issued by the TDC to the farmers contained a provision which subjected the leases to new policies, rules or bye-laws adopted or passed by the TDC and or the Government of Ghana. All the leases had expired by 1996,” she explained.

Mrs Opoku said the TDC did not renew the leases upon expiration and wrote to all the farmers to cease all agricultural activities on the land and vacate the land by the end of 1996, adding that some of the farmers were said to have complied; they vacated the land.

However, she said on the verge of leasing the land to a free zone developer, a suit was filed by 17 farmers who did not want to vacate the land, but on October 29, 2004, the Tema High Court gave judgment in favour of the TDC and the GFZB.

Mrs Opoku said in December 2012, the board, with assistance from the National Security Council, pulled down some illegal structures and gave all the encroachers up to the end of that month to vacate.

That action, she said, was, however, not enough to ginger the hardened ones to vacate the land, adding, “we are taking this opportunity to give the encroachers who have still not vacated the land the final warning to do so or face the consequences of their default, not later than Friday, February 21, 2014.”

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