Man Pockets GH¢2.3M For Asafo Interchange Compensation

Alhaji Amidu Sulemani, Minister of Roads and Highways

It has emerged that a claimant who did not deserve compensation from the government following the construction of a footbridge on the Asafo Interchange in Kumasi, succeeded in taking home about GH¢2.3 million (¢20.3bn) from the state.

The claimant, Henry Osei Darkwa, had gone to court to obtain judgment debt under the claim that his property was demolished when the footbridge was constructed.

However, evidence before the commission indicated that the land on which the property was demolished belonged to the Ghana Railways Authority (GRA) and the claimant did not even have permit for development from the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA).

At the judgement debt commission’s sitting yesterday, it emerged that the claimant, Mr. Osei Darkwa had sued Godfried Amoo who was the Regional Engineer for the Department of Urban Roads together with the Attorney General but the AG only entered appearance in court and never defended the case leading to the award of the huge sum.

Sole-Commissioner Justice Yaw Apau said evidence available to the commission indicated that the land was leased to Mr. Osei Darkwa’s company by Ghana Railways but when he sued he did it in his personal capacity instead of his company.

The judge also said that the claimant sued Mr. Amoo in his capacity as the Regional Engineer instead of the Department of Urban Roads (DUR) and the AG failed to defend the matter.

‘In the first place, records show that the land did not belong to the claimant. He also sued in his personal capacity not in the name of the company and if the AG had gone to court to explain all these, the judge would not have made such a judgement.’

Joyce Afukaar, Metro Director of Town & Country Planning assisted by Metro Engineer Felix Abaka-Quansah and Anthony Osei Poku, a solicitor for the KMA, testified in the case and said the assembly was not even aware that Mr. Osei Darkwa had taken huge sums from the government.

‘It was the subpoena that drew our attention to the issue,’ Mrs. Afukaar said adding, ‘Mr. Osei Darkwa attempted acquiring the permit but it was not granted.’

She said the then Ministry of Ports, Harbours and Railways in 2003 froze the issuance of permits for railway lands and Mr. Osei Darkwa’s application was disqualified as a result.

Mr. Abaka-Quansah pointed that in August 2007 the claimant was ordered to stop building and at a point the KMA demolished the property.

Although Mr. Osei Darkwa did not have a title to the land or a permit to develop the property, the Land Valuation Board and the Department of Urban Roads valued the property.

According to Justice Apau, documents available showed that the value of the property in 2007 was GH¢120,000, and in 2009, it stood at GH¢40,000. The claimant, nevertheless, got far in excess of the value of the property.

Theodore Quaye, the current Ashanti Regional Director of the Department of Urban Roads also confirmed the payments in his testimony.

Prof. Thomas Mba Akabzaa, chief director at the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum also testified in the Volta Lake Flooded Area compensation case and said the investigative committee’s report did not relate directly to the ministry.

Enoch Larbi Aboagye, general counsel for Ghana Gas, assisted by Rene Nelson also testified and said the compulsory acquisition of land for the gas project are covered by Executive Instrument 48 to 53.

He said the government had paid compensation to almost all claimants whose properties were affected by the project.

He however said those whose lands were affected by the project would soon be paid compensation when the acquisition process is completed since it was factored into the CDB loan agreement.

By William Yaw Owusu & Rita Oduro

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