General News of 2014-08-30

Ghc138m compensation in wrong hands

It emerged at the Judgement Debts Commission on Thursday that the Ghc138 million consolidated amount approved by the Cabinet of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration in 2008 for the payment of land compensation to the people of the Volta River Basin Flooded Areas, indeed, went to some wrong hands.

The Volta River Authority (VRA) resettled farmers whose lands were submerged during the construction of the Akosombo Dam in the 1960s, but some of them (re-settlers) turned round 50 years later to claim huge sums of money as compensation from the Government.

How they managed to get site plans on the flooded lands to back their claims is mind boggling to the Commission, as the first batch of claimants who appeared before Mr. Justice Yaw Apau, Sole Commissioner, could not produce original site plans to justify their claims.

They rather produced site plans that were prepared as recently as 2008.

The whopping sum of Ghc138 million land compensation was meant for the people of Pai, Apaaso, Makango, Ahamandi and Kete Krachi Traditional Areas.

According to the VRA regulations, farmers who were resettled and given farm lands were not entitled to cash compensation.

Members of the first batch of beneficiaries who appeared at the Commission to give evidence were Messrs Jackson Berwah Donkor of the Nchunyae clan, Kwame Gyane of the Keane Clan, Jacob Biah of the Konon clan and Nana Kpakore of the Patatia clan, all at Kete Krachi in the Volta Region.

Mr. Kwame Gyane in his evidence said the site plan he gave to the Commission had already been prepared by the elder.

He said he was only nominated to represent them (elders) in the course of fighting to collect their claims at the Lands Commission, but did not know the number of acres which belonged to the Keane clan.

However, Mr. Donkor’s evidence entailed some discrepancies on the number of acres captured on the site plan he presented.

Justice Apau’s careful scrutiny revealed that the 49,792.7 acres he (Mr. Donkor) originally submitted to the Lands Commission for his claims kept reducing to 45,000 acres and finally to 40,000 acres.

The witness explained that his clan upon consultation, ceded some acreage to another family whose lands had also been submerged, hence the reduction in the land size.

Mr. Justice Apau was of the view that the discrepancy in the land documents the beneficiaries submitted to the Lands Commission for payment of their compensation smacked of fraud, and that they could not go scot free if the case was heard by a court of competent jurisdiction.

He, therefore, told the witnesses to produce the original site plans from which the latest ones were derived from, to the Commission as soon as practicable.

The Sole Commissioner, had earlier gathered that Kwadwo Abban & Co. Chartered Surveyors who fronted for the claimants and collected 10 per cent commission from them did not survey any flooded lands, yet he charged them for a service he did not render.

Sitting resumes on Monday September 1, 2014.

Source: Ghanaian Times
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