A/R: Hwereso-Deduako residents lament earmarking of lands for Free Zones project
Residents at Hwereso-Deduako, a community in the Ejisu Municipality of the Ashanti Region are living in fear of being rendered homeless after lands they acquired to put up their buildings were earmarked for a project by the Free Zones Authority.
The residents say while they are not against the Free Zones Authority's intention, they are appealing to the government to ensure that their lands are not affected by the project.
Over 500 houses on that stretch of land have been completed with other properties at various stages of completion.
The landlords and other property owners at Hwereso-Deduako, have confirmed some lands in the area have been allocated for development by the Free Zones Authority.
“Yes, we believe in the project of the Free Zones Authority. We believe what the government is doing on this land for the state. Nonetheless, we are just pleading that they consider us and take us out of the location. We hope they will listen to us because we know they are at the development level. But if they do not listen to us, then it means they just want to render us homeless,” one of the landlords told Citi News.
Another retorted that: “We are pleading. We are on our knees begging that they should at least take off our area from the Free Zones. We are not here to blame anybody but to plead with the authorities to come to our aid, so we can have a place to lay our heads with our families”.
The landlords, therefore, fear losing their assets and are thus seeking government's intervention.
For the residents, they are, however, worried about being rendered homeless should the government fail to come to their aid.
“Before relocating here, we went to the various authorities to verify if this place is safe to live, and they said yes. They told us that it has not been demarcated, so we are free to put up our buildings. But before we realized, pillars were being mounted around. When we asked the authorities, they said, they had given it out to the Free Zones Authorities. So we are pleading. We are more than 1,000 and if it happens that we are going to be ejected, where will we go?” one resident appealed.
Together with the landlords, the residents say they are ready to engage officials of the Free Zones Authority to spare their assets from being demolished.
Find below the petition presented by the landlords over the release of the land:
Greetings to your honourable office. We write this petition on behalf of all landlords occupying lands at Hwereso-Deduako, a town close to Ejisu Donaso in the Ashanti region.
The facts to our issues are as below;
1. Our lands were acquired in periods spanning from the year 2008.
2. There are about one thousand plots, with about five hundred of them fully developed and in use as residence for a number of us whereas the rest are at various levels of completion. The oldest resident has lived there for nine years now.
3. We have about one thousand individuals currently residing in the area.
4. In the year 2012, it was rumoured that the lands we were occupying had been allocated to the Free Zones Authority.
5. We then individually and collectively visited the authorities of the Hwereso-Donaso Stool Lands, the Ejisu Lands Commission, and the Lands Commission Office at Adum to validate this information.
6. The landowners mentioned their lands had not been allocated to the Authority not to mention it being sold: actually they still hold on to this conviction till date stating emphatically clear that no payment has been received from another apart from us.
7. Officials at the Ejisu Lands Commission also confirmed the lands had not been allocated to anyone yet, and that there was no document to confirm the said transaction. In fact, they mentioned they were awaiting the submission of a layout from the Chief and authority of the land. And further counselled that we assist the owners in speeding up the process if we needed closure in the shortest possible time.
8. Also, the Commission also at Adum confirmed the availability of the lands with a couple of us actually further engaging them to get cedastrial plans done for us.
9. Later on in 2016, we heard a broadcast by the Ejisumanhene of the traditional area, Nana Afrane Okesse, instructing that we cease all development of the area with the reason that the lands had been allocated to the Free Zones Authority.
10. Even though we believed it not be directed at us because of the results of our search earlier, we thought it appropriate to approach the Chief and authorities for clarification on the matter.
11. To our surprise, this time around, he explained that the lands had indeed been allocated to the Free Zones Authority. The office of the lands commission also confirmed the same.
12. The free zones authority also in writing as a response to a letter we wrote to them also confirmed the same to us.
At this point, we had already formed a community of residents. We then commenced the process to get audience and possible consideration to allow us to stay on the lands. To this, we sent a petition to the Manhyia Palace, the Free Zones Authority, and the National Security. All these were followed by a press conference held in the neighbourhood on 23rd November 2020.
Our efforts were halted due to the lockdown imposed during the COVID-19 outbreak. To make matters worse for us, after the lockdown a follow up to the Ejisu Lands Commission office confirmed that the lands had now been leased out to the Free Zones Authority.
We are by this petition seeking your office to permit us to live on the land and not turn us into homeless individuals together with our families and children. After granting such, we humbly pray you to then clearly demarcate your stretch of land to prevent future encroachment.
I hope your kind office will feel the cry of your citizens and grant our wish. Find attached pictures of the area for your consideration. Thank you.