GHA Moves To Safeguard Road Reservations
From Sebastian R. Freiku, Kumasi
According to the Ashanti Regional Director of the GHA, Ing. Sitsofe David Addo, his outfit was working out modalities and legal processes to remove bottlenecks on ownership of lands belonging to the government.
Legal processes that would clearly spell out details of ownership of road reservations, as well as bind squatters to pay rent into the national kitty, instead of the government paying compensation for the demolition of structures by encroachers on such lands, are also being initiated.
Ing. Sitsofe David Addo told The Chronicle in an interview that the Ashanti Region GHA was putting in place a system to monitor all government lands, and ensure that the government did not pay second compensation to encroachers on road reservations.
His concern was premised on the realisation that the government had paid so much in compensation, and continues to pay for the same portions of land, and suggested that the government put an end to the payment of compensation to encroachers on government lands, which had already attracted compensations.
The Director said the practice goes to encourage the rampant abuse, particularly, of road reservations of the GHA.
He observed that district assemblies had rather been cashing in on the situation illegally, because the authorisation of erection of structures at a fee by Assemblies was improper.
The Ghana Highways Authority Act 540 section 40, sub-section (2) clause (b) states that it is only the Minister of Roads and Highways who may cause the “erection of structures on, near, over, or under trunk roads in the country.”
Ing. Addo said in spite of this constitutional provision, some corrupt officials outside the GHA illegally grant permits for the erection of temporary structures, which make the government pay billions of cedis as compensation to people or owners of such illegal and unauthorised structures.
He noted that those who are compensated rather turn round to re-site their structures and occupy the land upon completion of road projects, with the active connivance of those officials, with the intent of receiving compensation from future expansion road projects.
In the face of this development, Ing. Addo said, the Regional Directorate of the GHA would no longer entertain the granting of permits for the siting of temporary structures within its road reservation, let alone, consider claims for compensation in respect of properties developed on such road reservations.
He noted with regret that a lot of temporary structures were resurfacing along the Kumasi-Anyinam road, considering the quantum of compensation paid during the expansion of that road.
The GHA Director hinted that his outfit was considering meeting the assemblies and advertising agencies to dialogue on the proper erection of structures and billboards on road reservations.
He said, as part of road reservation management and safety, advertising agencies would be educated on the erection of signboards and billboards, which should be 2.5 metres above the ground, to ensure that drivers see clearly ahead of them.
To give legs to the conceived concepts, the Ashanti Regional Directorate of the Ghana Highways Authority has, since April 2012, constituted a Regional Lands Committee/Task Force to check encroachment on road reservations by developers.
The three-member Task Force is headed by the GHA Regional Surveyor, with the GHA Regional Investigations Officer as member secretary, and the GHA Regional/Zonal Environmental Officer for Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions a member.
All municipal and district chief executives along the Kumasi-Accra Highway have been directed against the issuance of permits for the siting of temporary structures within GHA’s Road reservation of 45 metres or 150 feet, measured from the existing centre-line on both sides of the road.
Meanwhile, the GHA has also cautioned district assemblies in the Ashanti Region against the unauthorised collection of road tolls.
The Assemblies were reminded about the provisions of sections 16 (1) of the Ghana Highways Authority Act 540, which states that “the GHA shall collect the tolls on any trunk road and related facilities.”
“It is illegal for assemblies to continue to make such unauthorised collections,” Ing. Addo declared in a letter of caution, dated August 15, 2012.
The Regional Director indicated that the Regional Accountant and the Regional Internal Auditor would take account of all such unauthorized collections by the assemblies, in line with section 16 (3) of the GHA Act 540, which provides that “the GHA shall pay into a the Road Fund established under the Road Fund Act 563 toll money collected from any trunk road
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