Regional News of 2014-06-26

Over Ghc1m paid as compensation to owner of illegal structure

A petitioner who obtained a default judgment of Ghc1,418, 151.76 for his demolished property had no building permit, the Judgement Debt Commission was told on Wednesday.

Mr. Henry Osei Danquah’s building was demolished by the state to make way for road works.

He subsequently went to court to claim damages, Mrs Joyce Afukaar, Kumasi Metropolitan Director of the Department of Town and Country Planning made this known in Accra on Wednesday, in her testimony before the Commission.

She said according to the records in 2003, Mr. Danquah of Henomina Complex applied for a building permit, which was declined following a directive from the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development that no permit should be issued to private developers who were trying to usurp railway lands.

She said the land in question was a railway property and though Mr. Danquah was refused the permit, he went ahead to put up two adjacent storey buildings and one was demolished by the state to make way for the construction of a foot bridge linking the Guggisberg Avenue and the Central Market Street in Kumasi.

Mr. Kofi Dometi Sokpor, Counsel for the Commission wanted to know what the city planners did as Mr. Danquah was putting up the building.

To this, Mr. Felix Abeka-Quansah, Kumasi Metropolitan Engineer of the Department, said despite several warnings, asking Mr. Danquah to stop work on the project, he went ahead to put up the buildings.

Mr. Justice Yaw Apau, Sole Commissioner of the Commission said Mr. Danquah filed the case in his own name instead of the Company (Henomina Complex) against the state and Mr. Godfred Amo, the then Metropolitan Director of the Department of Urban Roads.

He said the state attorney in-charge of the case only made an appearance in court, and never defended the state, which led to the default judgement.

He questioned how a property which was initially valued at Ghc120,000, later scaled down to Ghc40,000 to attract a judgement debt of Ghc1,418, 151.76.

He said compensation “is not supposed to be paid to buildings without permits, declaring that it is a court decision which could only be reversed by a superior court”

On the payment of compensation to Balaji Gemlast Company Limited due to a default in payment of a loan Ghana Consolidated Diamond Company took from the Company, Mr. David Agbale, Counsel at the Legal Department of the Ministry of Finance told the Commission that the state finished paying the principal amount of $1.8 million in two batches in 2012, but was yet to pay the accumulated interest of $268,468 and a Ghana Cedi component of Ghc57,000.

He said the Ghana Consolidated Diamond Co. Ltd had since been diversified to a local company (Zoomlion).

Mr. Kofi Amenyah, Director of Legal Affairs at the Ministry of Trade and Industry was also at the Commission’s sitting.

He said the government was yet to pay compensation for the land on which Ghana International Trade Fair Company is sited, which was acquired by the state in 1967 under the Executive Instrument 10 for the purpose of developing an ultramodern trade centre.

Mr Amenyah said compensation would be paid based on current land value to the landlords.

The Commissioner noted that at the time the state acquired the land, it was valued at £ 4000, but what caused the delay in compensation payment was that the Labadi Stool was claiming ownership, as well as another family, and wondered why the state should pay for it at the current rate.

Professor Thomas Mba Akabzaa, Chief Director of Ministry of Energy also testified in the matter of compensation payment to land owners in Kete Krachi, Makango and Paso due to the flooding of the Volta Lake following the construction of the Akosombo Dam.

The Commission has adjourned sitting to Thursday, June 26.