Farmers from the Adjei Kojo Mobisquad Irrigation Scheme (AKMIS), have called on the President, Prof. J. E. A. Mills, to come to their aid to stop the wanton sale of part of the land under the Irrigation Development Centre, Ashaiman.
The president of AKMIS, Mr. Kingsley Kutiame, who made the appeal to the Ghanaian Times on Thursday, alleged that most of the land on the left bank of the irrigation project had been sold to individuals for the construction of houses with the connivance of some officials of the Irrigation Development Centre and some people from the Ashaiman Divisional Council.
He further alleged that recently part of the right bank were being demarcated for the construction of a fuel filling station belonging to the Agapet Company Limited.
Mr. Kutiame noted that when AKMIS farmers confronted those undertaking the demarcation exercise they were informed that it was being done with the consent of the Irrigation Development Authority.
He wondered why land reserved for irrigation should be used for something else and contended that if the President did not take steps to reverse the situation there will be no land left in the area for farming.
He said AKMIS is a group of 13 farmers which benefitted from the Agricultural Sector Investment Project of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in 1994.
He said the parents of the farmers settled at Adjei Kojo and Gbeminya villages in 1928 and in 1983 and the head of the Irrigation Development Centre at Ashaiman, released 10 hectares of the land on the right bank of the project to the group for cultivation of okro, maize, onion and other vegetables.
Mr. Kutiame said because water from the canal could not reach that part of the land they contacted the then Minister of Agriculture, Ibrahim Adams, who gave them support by giving them 130 pieces of pipes, cement, power tiller among others to enable them to irrigate the land.
When contacted, Mr. Charles Adeku, acting officer incharge, Irrigation Development Centre, Ashaiman, refuted the allegation that officials from the centre had condoned with others to sell land.
He said the project was rather saddled with a serious encroachment problem by individual who used land guards to perpetrate their illegal activities and said that the centre had since December last year involved the military to patrol the area as efforts by the police alone to protect the land had not been effective.
Mr. Adeku said that move had been misconstrued by some residents as attempts to demolish their property and had on occasion complained to some politicians who had inundated the centre with threats.
On the demarcation being undertaken on the right bank, he said a letter from the Irrigation Development Authority (IDA) dated April 17, signed by the Chief Executive had instructed the centre to release one acre of the land at the fringes to Agapet Company Limited for development into a fuel filling station.
Mr. Adeku, however, indicated that the AKMIS group was not recognized by the project as there was no document on their file to that effect.
He said upon reports that the group had confronted the team that was demarcating the land they were invited to two meetings to brief them about the intended development and to request them to take appropriate steps to regularise their stay on the land.
Mr. Adeku said it was at the meeting that the members of AKMIS revealed that they wrote to the IDA for recognition but that letter was yet to receive attention.
Nii Annang Adjor, regent of Ashaiman, on his part denied that the Ashaiman Divisional Council was involved in indiscriminate sale of the project’s land.
He said when he took office about three years ago, he received reports of illegal land sales in the project area by some people related to the stool but he had since championed a cause to correct the anomalies.
He said the Agapet Company recently approached the Council for a piece of land at the irrigation site to be developed into a fuel station but were told that the land belonged to the IDA and that they could get to them through the Tema Development Corporation.
The Irrigation Development Centre established in 1968 with 155 hectares of land developed for farming has 93 farmers who pay irrigation service charges to the scheme every season.