Claimant Explodes At Judgement Debt Commission

Justice Yaw Apau
A Professor of Marine and Fishery Science at the University of Ghana has told the Judgement Debt Commission that the government cannot continue to overlook communities displaced by the floods in the Volta Basin area.

Prof Patrick Kwabena Ofori Danso said the construction of the Akosombo Dam in the 1960s brought floods that rendered the people of Akroso and Asukawkaw hopeless, adding that the government had not shown much concern as expected.

Prof Danso was testifying in the matter in which he is said to have collected a whooping GH¢1,440,908.63 as compensation for lands destroyed by the Volta River floods in the 1960s.

Cabinet Approval
Cabinet in July 2008 approved a consolidated amount of compensation totalling GH¢138 million for various stools/families in Pai, Apaaso, Makango, Ahmandi and Kete Krachi Traditional Areas. About 57 groups were said to have benefited from the said amount.

Records at the commission revealed that GH¢71 million has been paid so far to the various claimants; but the disbursement of the remaining GH¢67 million has been put on hold to enable the government deal with discrepancies in the payments.

Sole-Commissioner’s Shock
Sole-Commissioner Justice Yaw Apau said he did not understand why communities that were resettled by the government in the 1960s, given communal lands and paid compensation for crops destroyed by the Volta River floods could turn around to claim cash compensation almost 50 years down the line.

Majority of the witnesses have told the commission that one Nana Asetena Mensah, a leader in the communities in Krachi, was the man who had commissioned Kwadwo Ababio & Co, a consultant and surveyors, to survey the submerged area out of which the individual plotting were done.

Black Flies Attack
‘Diseases we have never heard of are now with us at where we were settled. Our people are developing temporary or total blindness due to attacks by black flies,’ Prof Danso complained to the Commission of Enquiry investigating the payment of judgement debts.

Flanked by John Gyamfi who leads the Kwame Donkoh Family, Prof Danso, a member of the Kwabena Bosompem Family within the Krachi Traditional Council, said ‘I have an uncle whose whole nucleus family is blind,’ adding that ‘At Asukawkaw for instance you have to always wear trousers and long sleeves to be able to walk about.’

He also said that epilepsy had become common in the area and wondered how the people were going to survive in the current state of affairs.

Submerged Land
He said; ‘Our land size of about 27,000 acres was submerged because Akroso was within the confluence of the river; and all the government could do was to resettle us together with two other communities on the 1,000 acres of land.’

He said the resettlement deprived them of their livelihood and the new generation did not have any land for use, adding that the two families had put in a joint claim after Messrs Kojo Ababio had helped them to merge the site plans.

Prof Danso said the land was under Trans Volta Togoland, which later became a German Protectorate, claiming that they had statutory declaration to represent the families.

He said the maps tendered in evidence were made in 1974 and 1978 respectively, and it was merged in 2007 when they were filing the claim for compensation and the 1,000 acre land given them to settle was shared with Otiso Amanfrom and Asempaneye.

Dormanbin Claims
Earlier, Nicholas Addo, assisted by his counsel, Kwame Yankyera, tendered in evidence a document used to secure GH¢1,592,545.06  from the government as compensation for Dormanbin lands, prompting Justice Apau to remark that ‘this is a properly-made power of attorney.’

The witness told the commission that six claimants had given him the power to put in the application around 2004. He also tendered in evidence a properly titled site plan.

He said he could not tell if the earlier people affected by the floods were paid compensation for loss of crops, insisting that the people of Dormanbin were never resettled by the government.

By William Yaw Owusu

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