Extend E.I. 59 Notice Deadline, Hold Hearings & Reconsider Proposed Marine Drive Project

710
Supporters

We the undersigned are writing to petition the Ghana Government (“Government”) and Parliament with respect to the Government’s announcement via Executive Instrument 59 (E.I. 59) of the intended utilisation of approximately 98.356 hectares (243.039 acres) of public lands for the Marine Drive Tourism Development Investment Project (“Marine Drive Project”).

We respectfully ask the Ghana Government to:

1.  Extend the deadline of the Notice for submission of claims, as specified in E.I. 59 STATE LANDS – ACCRA-OSU - (SITE FOR MARINE DRIVE INVESTMENT PROJECT) INSTRUMENT, 2016, to June 30th, 2017, and make the Notice, written project proposal, and environmental impact analysis report available at relevant government offices and websites to increase access to and transparency of the information to all stakeholders, and the people of Ghana;

2.  Hold a series of Public Hearings in the Ga, Osu and Jamestown communities to properly inform community members via written, verbal, and visual information about the Marine Drive Project, and elicit input, and address concerns;

3.  Only lease and not outright sell any public land to foreign investors, in accordance with Article 266 of the 1992 Constitution. In addition, under Article 20 (1) of the 1992 Constitution the Government can only acquire privately held land from allodial owners for public benefit and not for sale to private and foreign investors.

4.  Scale back the extent of the acreage for the Marine Drive Project, and instead develop the remaining acreage for the indigenous Osu and Ga peoples to meet their dire communal needs of up-to-date and real affordable housing, schools, clinics, fish markets, cold storage facilities, smokehouses, landing beach and boat launching ramps, and a cultural and heritage centre;

5.  Create a protected open park space for coastal and marine habitat purposes, and community and public use;

6.  Consider the environmental impact of the project including climate change, the risk of earthquakes and possible tsunamis along the coastal areas, and the urgent need for improved environmental sanitation in Accra and along the beach areas;

7.  Include local content, culture, images, and symbols in the proposed tourism project; recruit and hire (give first opportunities to) indigenous local architects, artisans, contractors, and community members to participate in the project; and

8.  Consult and liaise with a Committee comprising representatives of the Ga, Osu and Jamestown Traditional Councils, GaDangme organisations, and community leaders to elicit their input and feedback to ensure that they are informed about developments and progress of the Marine Drive project.

Rationale for the Petition: This petition is based on our legitimate concern about the rising tension in Ga and Osu communities about the recent Notice issued per E.I. 59 dated July 7, 2016, by the Minister of Land and Mineral Resources about the Ghana Tourism Authority’s intent to use approximately 243 acres of land situated along the Atlantic Coast in the Marine Drive area of Osu, and the Victoriaborg area of Accra for the proposed Marine Drive Project.

Preservation of Cultural Heritage: We are concerned about the Ghana Government’s plan to sell 243 acres of land to private investors for a tourism project without adequate consideration of the needs of the neighbouring Ga and Osu communities for land for housing, schools, clinics, community facilities, a cultural and heritage centre, and a protected open park space; the environmental impact on marine habitats for wildlife species such as turtles and birds along the Atlantic Coast; environmental sanitation due to the pollution of the Atlantic coast beach areas by plastics and other waste; and the need for a more comprehensive tourism project that take into account, and preserves and showcases the history, traditions and cultural heritage of the Ga, Osu and Jamestown communities. Please note that the UN Expert Group on Indigenous groups and the environment has called upon “States to pay particular attention to the right to health and cultural rights of the indigenous peoples, which may be infringed upon by activities threatening their environment and/or disregarding the spiritual and cultural significance they give to their ancestral lands”. The Government should also adhere to the principles embodied in The Rio Declaration on Environment And Development (1992), and The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

History of Land Legislation and Public Lands Acquisitions: The Gold Coast government enacted the Public Lands Ordinance, 1876 (“1876 Ordinance”) to acquire land for governmental and public benefit purposes. The enactment of the 1876 Ordinance, and a subsequent attempt by the Gold Coast government to amend the ordinance to designate unused land as public land, resulted in great turmoil, protests and petitions. Some public lands that the Government acquired from allodial land owners for public benefit purposes have now been sold to private persons and entities. The Ghana Government also enacted the Land Development (Protection of Purchasers) Act, 1960 (Act 2) to facilitate Ghana’s development. An Executive Instrument then limited Act 2 (the so-called “Lintel Law”)’s application to Accra alone. The Lintel Law has been used to perversely and gradually “steal” a significant portion of Ga stool and family lands. We have quietly, over the last 30 years or so, watched on helplessly as some chiefs and unauthorized individuals have also engaged in land sales to the detriment of most of the Ga and Dangme people. Act 2 is no longer needed and discriminatory, and we intend to petition the Ghana Government and Parliament to repeal it.

Insensitive Handling of Ga and Dangme Land Issues: We have observed an ongoing pattern of insensitivity in the way that successive Governments have dealt with Ga and Dangme land issues. Cases in point are the La Wireless, Shiashie Airport, Ridge, Cantonments, Korle Lagoon-Agbogbloshie (Sodom Gomorrah), Survey Dept School and other La lands, Marine Drive and Victoriaborg, Ada Songhor Salt, and other Ga and Dangme lands. Section 20 (6) of the 1992 Constitution prevents the deprivation of ownership of land from the original allodial land owners by providing a first option to acquire previously owned land.  However, Section 20 (6) is not retrospective with respect to land that the Government acquired prior to the enactment of the 1992 Constitution. Despite the non-retrospective provision of Section 20 (6), to prevent social upheavals and instability -- the Government needs to handle issues with respect to land acquired by both the Gold Coast and Ghana Governments in a much more sensitive manner to prevent hardships to the Ga and Dangme people, and lower the risk of confrontations, anxiety, frustrations and despondency among the Ga and Dangme people. The Government has even acquired some lands without proper notice and compensation to the allodial land owners, and some expired leases have still not been renegotiated. The Achimota Forest, and the coastal land that the Government now wants to sell to private investors are two of the few areas of undeveloped land remaining in Accra. There is very little land remaining in the Ga traditional areas for housing for the youth, farming, and other development purposes. A significant portion of Ga lands have been acquired by Government or sold to private developers. The Government’s continual selling of land acquired from the Ga and Dangme people to private interests, particularly non-indigenes and political cronies, and not holding public hearings to properly inform and consult the affected Ga and Dangme communities of such land sales is not only confrontational and insensitive but it does not bode well for peace in Ghana. It also exacerbates the tensions and legitimate anxieties that have arisen about the handling of Ga and Dangme lands acquired by the Ghana Government.

Only Lease and Do Not Outright Sell Land to Foreign and Other Private Investors: Under Article 257 (1) of the 1992 Constitution all public lands in Ghana are vested in the President on behalf of, and in trust for, the people of Ghana. The Government should comply with the 1992 Constitution and not sell any public land on a freehold basis. Article 266 (1) specifically states that “no interest in, or right over, any land in Ghana shall be created which vests in a person who is not a citizen of Ghana a freehold interest in any land in Ghana”. Further, Article 266 (2) states that “an agreement, deed or conveyance of whatever nature, which seeks, contrary to clause (1) of this article, to confer on a person who is not a citizen of Ghana any freehold interest in, or rights over, any land is void”. The Ghana Government has set prior precedent: on November 5, 1985, Ghana Tourist Development Corporation Ltd. ("GTDC"), as majority shareholder and joint venture partner, signed a 50-year lease agreement for the redevelopment of the defunct Palm Court Restaurant with a foreign national who was the Chairman of the Board and an investor of Marine Drive Complex Ltd. ("MDCL"). The GTDC contributed the land and did not sell it to MDCL.

Compulsory Acquisition of Land Should be for Public Benefit Only: Compulsory acquisition of privately owned land for sale to foreign investors violates Article 20 (1) of the 1992 states that “No property of any description or interest in or right over any property shall be compulsorily taken possession of or acquired by the State unless the following conditions are satisfied. (a) the taking of possession or acquisition if necessary in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality, public health, town and country planning or the development or utilization of property in such a manner as to promote the public benefit; (b) the necessity for the acquisition is clearly stated and is such as to provide reasonable justification for causing any hardship that may result to any person who has an interest in or right over the property.” Acquisition of privately held land with the sole intent for sale to private investors would violate Article 20 (1) of the 1992 Constitution.

Private Ownership of Land: Certain parts of the land described in E.I. 59 that the Government intends to sell for the Marine Drive tourism project may be privately owned by Osu and Ga stools, families and individuals. The presence of certain private properties on such land implies private ownership. The owners need time to conduct document and title searches, meet with stool leaders and family members to discuss the proposed acquisition of their land, raise funds, and hire attorneys to prepare and submit claims on their behalf. The owners need time to digest the Government’s Notice and the implications of the proposed Marine Drive Project on their ancestral homes, properties, and ancestral land. Therefore, we are asking that the Notice deadline be extended to June 30, 2017.

Historical and Eco- Tourism: Most of the tourists that come to Accra and Ghana are interested in Ghana’s rich history, culture and traditions, and the warmth and hospitality of the Ghanaian people. They do not come to Ghana for its luxury hotel accommodations, and to see overly built up replicas of European style buildings. The tourists are interested in visiting places like Makola Market, Osu Night Market, Jamestown, Usshertown, Arts Centre and other attractions to learn about the City’s history and enjoy its rich culture and vibe. They would be put off by the plastic and other trash that is washed up onto the beaches daily by the Atlantic Ocean because Accra does not have a mandatory recycling program, and putrid smells wafting in from nearby waste disposal activity and open defecation on the beaches.

National Security and Other Concerns: The location of the proposed Marine Drive project near government offices, (Ministries and Departments) in the Victoriaborg area, raises national security concerns that we hope the Ministry of Tourism had taken into consideration given the plan to sell land along to beachfront area to foreign investors. In addition, we are concerned about the type of tourists that the project is likely to attract. There are already indications of the negative effect of sex tourism on children and young people in the local communities.

In conclusion, the Minister of Tourism and the Ghana Tourism Authority should extend the EI 59 deadline, not outright sale any public land, consider the interests of the neighbouring Ga, Jamestown, and Osu communities in the overall design of the proposed tourism project, hire (give first opportunities to) indigenous architects, artisans, and workers, and address the environmental, sanitation, national security and other concerns that we have raised.

We humbly and respectfully ask that the President, Cabinet, Speaker, Honorable Sector Ministers, and relevant Parliamentary Select Committees seriously consider this petition so that going forward the Ghana Government can develop a blueprint on how to properly handle development issues and engage affected communities in a sensitive and consultative manner that is consistent with relevant provisions of existing statutes, and based on mutual respect and cooperation.

We look forward to hearing from you, and meeting with the relevant Sector Ministers to discuss the petition to reach a reasonable, amicable and mutually beneficial resolution.

Respectfully submitted by,

Signatories (see attached list)

Cc:
Ambassador Kwasi Quartey, Secretary to the Cabinet, Flagstaff House
Hon. Julius Debrah, Chief of Staff, Flagstaff House
Her Ladyship Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, Chief Justice
Hon. Marrieta Brew Appiah Opong, Minister of Justice & Attorney General
Hon. Dr. Kweku Agyeman Mensah, Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing
Hon. Nii Laryea Afotey-Agbo, Minister, Greater Accra Region
Hon. Henry Siedu Daanaa, Minister for Chieftaincy and Traditional Affairs
Hon. Seidu Amadu (Alhaji), (Chairperson), Parliamentary Committee on Lands and Forestry
Hon. Dominic Azimbe Azumah (Chairperson), Parliamentary on Committee on Local Govt and Rural Dev.
Hon. Simon Edem Asimah (Chairperson), Parliamentary on Committee on Environment, Science and Technology
Hon. David Tetteh Assumeng, (Chairperson), Parliamentary on Committee on Works and Housing
Hon. Dr. Alfred Oko Vanderpuije, Metropolitan Chief Executive, Accra Metropolitan Assembly
Dr Nii Moi Thompson, Director-General, National Development Planning Commission
Ms. Chandra Roy-Henriksen, Chief, UN Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (SPFII)
Christine Evans-Klock, UN Resident Coordinator & UNDP Resident Representative
Togbe Afede XIV, President, National House of Chiefs
President, Greater Accra House of Chiefs
Secretary, Ga Traditional Council
Secretary, Jamestown Ngleshie Alata Traditional Council
Secretary, Osu Traditional Council

Legislation and News Links:
Executive Instrument 59 (E.I. 59) - http://publicagenda.com.gh/executive-instrument
Ghana 1992 Constitution - http://www.ghana.gov.gh/images/documents/constitution_ghana.pdf
Public Lands Ordinance, 1876 - https://books.google.com/books?id=Ml5HAAAAYAAJ&lpg=PA215&ots=UEjnQ4Wc88&dq=Public%20Lands%20Ordinance%20of%201876%20gold%20coast&pg=PA215#v=onepage&q=Public%20Lands%20Ordinance%20of%201876%20gold%20coast&f=false
Land Development (Protection of Purchasers) Act, 1960 (Act 2) - http://www.jtighana.org/new/actdetails.php?id=60
“International Law Reports, Volume 95, By E. Lauterpacht, C. J. Greenwood” - https://books.google.com/books?id=0eQzW-UigQ4C&lpg=PA191&ots=A2Y_pOUnmz&dq=ghana%20tourism%20sale%20land%20marine%20drive&pg=PA208#v=onepage&q=ghana%20tourism%20sale%20land%20marine%20drive&f=false
“Govt sells Accra’s Coastline to Investors” - http://thebftonline.com/business/tourism/21438/govt-sells-accras-coastline-to-investors-as-cabinet-approves-marine-drive-project-.html
“Gov’t to develop Osu into marine drive enclave” - http://citifmonline.com/2016/09/24/govt-to-develop-osu-into-marine-drive-enclave/#sthash.ilGn2Qav.dpuf
“TBY talks to Hon. Elizabeth Ofosu-Adjare, Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Creative Arts, on air traffic, the National Tourism Development Plan, and collaboration with the private sector” - https://www.thebusinessyear.com/ghana-2016/open-country/vip-interview
“Marine Drive Project - Time’s up, but residents refuse relocation” - http://pulse.com.gh/features/marine-drive-project-time-s-up-but-residents-refuse-relocation-id5695923.html
“Govt to compensate La over Trade Fair Land” - http://www.ghananewsagency.org/economics/government-to-compensate-la-over-trade-fair-land-74578
“The Rio Declaration on Environment And Development (1992)” - http://www.unesco.org/education/information/nfsunesco/pdf/RIO_E.PDF
“Indigenous People and the United Nations Human Rights System” - http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/fs9Rev.2.pdf

This petition will be delivered to:
  • H. E. John D. Mahama, President of the Republic of Ghana
  • Rt. Hon. Edward K. Doe Adjaho, Speaker of Parliament
  • Hon. Nii Osah Mills, Minister of Lands & Mineral Resources
  • Hon. Elizabeth Ofosu-Adjare, Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Creative Arts


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