None of the more-than 4,000 houses put up on the Sakumono Ramsar site has paid property tax for the past 20 years since the encroachment started on the 3,500-acre land belonging to the government.

Sakumono Ramsar site

This came to light during a stakeholder meeting on the Sakumono Ramsar site a few days ago.

At the meeting, Greater Accra Regional Minister Henry Quartey announced that none of the 4,000-plus houses would be demolished but noted that some processes would have to be gone through to have them regularized even though they have been built on 2,500 acres of encroached land out of the 3,500 acres.

“I want to say here and now that not a single building will be demolished,” Mr. Quartey told the forum made up of chiefs, and representatives of the residential association, among others.

“We will go through some processes of discussions, and we will have this kind of meeting again in about three weeks’ time, by which time we would have had a clear road map,” the minister said on Sunday, 6 November 2022.

Earlier, some fence walls had been pulled down by the Regional Coordinating Council to pave the way for a second phase of the exercise, which would have been the downing of the 4,000-plus houses built on the encroached part of the site.

The Sakumono Ramsar enclave has a coastal brackish-saline lagoon, floodplains, freshwater marsh, coastal savanna grasslands with thicket vegetation, and a narrow sand-dune connection to the sea.

The government has been protecting it from encroachment but to no avail.

The encroachment, thus, accentuates flooding in parts of Ashaiman and Tema.

At the forum, Mr. Quartery said: “Over the last two decades, people have encroached these 3,500 acres; they’ve gone into it deeply – about 2,500 acres. Now do the mathematics again: if it’s four plots [for an acre], then it’s 10,000 plots [that have been encroached]. If it’s six plots [for an acre], then it’s 15,000”.

“They have built fine buildings, homes but Mr. President [referring to the leader of the residents association], I want to ask you on behalf of your people, ‘when was the last time you contributed to Ghana, our motherland, in terms of tax; have you paid property rates? Your residents, have you been paying property rates?’”

“Well, let me say, for now, no”, the president said, to which Mr. Quartey retorted: “I want a yes or no answer”.

The man then responded: “No”.

The minister then added: “Of the 2,500 acres, I dare say we have over 4,000 houses there. We have to provide the streets, light, water, and we keep saying ‘things are tough’, but the country is run by tax,” he pointed out.