Military elements, landguards prevent dev’t of private beach lands

Some elements in the military and land guards are working hand in hand to prevent the development of private beach lands at Teshie, in Accra, a B&FT investigation has found.

The lands, which are located at Teshie Lenshie Quarter and recently referred to as Laboma, which is near Labadi Beach Hotel, have been encroached by land guards with the help of some officers in the military, specifically the Southern Command at Teshie, Accra.

Checks at the Lands Commission and documents sighted by the B&FT show that the properties in question are legally owned by Waterfront Properties Investments and Coastal Developers [both companies have the same ownership] but some officials in the military, in collaboration with land guards, are thwarting efforts by the owners to develop their lands for more than half a decade.

The development, set to be known as Accra Waterfront, the developers explained, has been carefully conceived to complement Ghana’s emergence as an international tourist attraction by creating a world-class oceanfront destination and would include a beach club resort, luxury hotel, luxury residential towers, indoor and outdoor dining and retail space. The project is expected to have significant positive impact on the economy of Ghana and is expected to generate over 15,000 construction and permanent jobs.

Kwabena Amakye Otabil, spokesperson for the two companies, in an interview with the B&FT explained that for more than five years, they have been unable to undertake any meaningful project on the said lands because at every point in time they make a move to begin construction, the land guards and the military show up to harass and threaten their lives.

“In the very first instant, about five years ago, when we sent in a machine to begin the excavation to begin a fence wall, within five minutes, a team of armed military men in full uniform and weapons from the Southern Command came in three pick-up cars and instructed us to stop work and that they were instructed by their general commander.

They stopped us from working and that since I was in charge, I was to follow them to the Southern Command. I told them it was a private property and that they have no locus but they were many so we had to stop. We attempted again about a month or two intervals later and the same thing happened. This has been ongoing for the past half-decade,” he said.

He noted that two weeks ago, another team from Waterfront went to the site to place a container that would serve as storage for building materials. Immediately, the land guards and military reacted.

“I received a call from a lieutenant , who told me that I should come and pick the container from the site and I asked him on whose authority? He said the owners of the land which is the people who operate the beach. He said the owners of the land have lodged a complaint with the military. They then caught one of my guys from the site and beat him up because he was trying to take a video of them,” he said.

The army he explained has never claimed ownership of the property and this was confirmed by a high ranking official in the Ghana Armed Forces, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The official noted that the land in question is not officially for the Ghana Armed Forces but because the military has an installation close to the property and also, that installation is frequently used for training purposes, the military is trying to discourage the development of the said land.

To buttress the point of the developers, a letter, signed by Lieutenant Colonel A.A Donkor for the Director General, Logistics of the Ghana Armed Forces on August 10, 1999, shows the military’s endorsement of the project as far back as three decades ago.

“I am to say that the Armed Forces has accordingly given its consent to the intended development project…it is further submitted that the Ghana Armed Forces would not accept responsibility for any inconvenience or nuisance that may be caused by operation of the range to people using your hotels or apartments,” the letter noted.

To Mr. Otabil, the military and land guards actions are detrimental to the development of Ghana and undermines the government’s posture as investor friendly. He explained that Waterfront and its partner investors are ready to invest some US$350million in developing the beach front.

He stressed that a project of this nature should be encouraged and lauded for attracting significant foreign capital and investment into Ghana.

“We will continue to pursue the development of this wonderful project and encourage all Ghanaians of goodwill to stand against these criminal and such elements within our community that have no intention, capacity or drive to support the government of Ghana’s legitimate agenda of development, an objective that can only be achieved through collaboration and support of both local and international investors.”

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