General News of Wed, 29 Jul 2009233
Lands near oil zone in foreign hands
Government to re-possess them
Takoradi, July 29, GNA - President John Atta Mills has said the government would re-possess all the large tracts of land that had been acquired by foreigners within the catchments area of the oil discovery.
"These foreigners, in anticipation of the profits and other interests, have taken advantage and secured large tracks of land and if government does not act quickly, it will have to buy these same lands from persons who have their own personal interests at heart" he said. President Mills said this at a durbar organized in his honour by the Western Regional House of Chiefs at Takoradi on Tuesday.
He said the oil discovery is a blessing from God and urged all Ghanaians to work hard by learning from other countries about the best uses of the revenue and other benefits from the oil boom. "I will not allow any one to misuse oil revenues when production begins fully and as President all the necessary steps will be taken to safeguard the interests of Ghana and people especially communities who will be affected by the environmental pollution will not be neglected" he said.
President Mills said the present agreement makes it mandatory for all local supplies to be undertaken by Ghanaians and the government would not allow its citizens to suffer in the midst of plenty. The President appealed to fishermen who operate near the oil rig to re-locate and avoid endangering their lives and that of personnel on the rig.
"It is dangerous for both the fishing community and Ghana and I appeal to our fishermen to stay away to safeguard their lives," he said. President Mills said though premix fuel had become scarce due to technical challenges, all efforts are being made and within the next three weeks the problems would be resolved and the product would be in abundance for the fishing community.
"The government has not abandoned Ghanaians. We are having some difficulties but the visit of United States President Barack Obama has started opening up opportunities and all Ghanaians must be patient and wait for government to act."
"We will not lord it over you, we are one people and the persistent abuse and insults we use on ourselves and our leaders must stop," he said.
President Mills appealed to Ghanaians to criticize constructively and genuinely and with humility, oneness, fairness, sacrifice and tolerance.
He said a committee had been established to access potential investors for the Ghana Railways Company (GRC) and in the interim, directives had been given for the payment of outstanding salaries, retrenchment packages and retirement benefits.
"How do we expect the individual to perform if salaries and other entitlements that are genuine are not paid?
President Mills said the railway is the only solution to carting goods and other services while at the same time off-loading the severe pressure brought on the road by heavy duty trucks and we want to get the railway back on track.
He appealed to workers of the GRC to exercise restrain while the government works out a package that will revamp and make the rail sector viable.
The President said with support from the European Union and other development partners, a Western Development Authority would soon be established.
Awulae Attibrukusu III, the President of the Western Regional House of Chiefs, said the discovery of oil in the region was a big relief to the entire nation but cautioned that Ghana should avoid the unfortunate incidents that happened elsewhere in the world where the oil find had become a curse rather than a blessing.
Awulae Attibrukusu suggested the establishment of an "oil development fund" in which a percent of every barrel of oil produced will be used to fast track the development of the Western Region while communities whose livelihood would be affected could also be supported from the fund.
He pledged the support of the chiefs and people of the region towards the government and said the chiefs would also encourage their citizens to study programmes that are related to the oil industry.