Tension continues to mount in Ada Foah in the Greater Accra region as residents of two villages protest a planned resort project by Trasacco Estate Development Company (TEDC) near the Ada Estuary.
The residents of Zizanya and Kewunor maintain that apart from being displaced by the project, the ecological value and heritage of the Estuary would be lost, and thereby, threaten their livelihood since their sources of income would be destroyed.
The villagers also claim they have a right to occupy the land, and therefore, would not vacate for the intended project.
But the management of Trasacco indicates that the luxury five-star resort and hotel project would spur tourism and create jobs for the local people. It also wants to resettle the residents, but the villagers remain skeptical about the resettlement plan.
The impasse, which has largely resulted from ineffective consultation and negotiation between the company and the residents, has stalled the project for which the sod cutting was performed in November 2013.
The campaign against the project is being led by the Volta Revival Foundation, a community based NGO which has mobilised the people to uphold their human rights against the Trasacco and its partners.
The residents are demanding resettlement negotiations but the company has refused to effectively negotiate with the claim that it has a right to the land which it acquired from the government.
During a stakeholders meeting in April with some chiefs from the area in 2013, Ian Morris Managing Director of the Trasacco Estates said the long-term goal is to change the fortunes of residents living in the area, who the company described as poor. But the villagers rejected the poverty tag, saying they were content with their fishing and farming economic activities.
As part of the company’s offer for resettlement, he announced that detached houses would be build for some 177 affected residents, while a new primary school block would be built, in addition to a scholarship fund for deprived children, as well as the setting up of an Ecological Fund by the company to maintain environmental cleanliness in the area.
However, the residents are skeptical about the offer, describing the offer as an “empty promise,” especially because many promises made by earlier developers and investors have not materialized.
They are also demanding their involvement in the determination of the resettlement plan since the brick detached houses being offered by the company would not survive the environmental condition in the area. They are used to thatched houses which survive the frequent sand erosion.
On October 21, 2013, TEDC issued an eviction notice on the villagers, asking them to vacate the land that they have been occupying for about seven decades. The letter only gave the villagers a 30-day notice to leave the land.
The letter from TEDC sealing the fate of the helpless villagers was written on October 21, 2013 by Ian Morris, the Managing Director, said “The site you are currently occupying was acquired by the Government of Ghana in 1974 under Executive Instrument dated 26th April 1974 for Tourism purposes. “
“TEDC has acquired this site from the Government of Ghana through the Ghana Tourist Board and regularized its ownership with Dangmebiawe Clan. TEDC is now to take occupancy of the site and commence the construction of a high class tourist resort and boat marina.
“With this in mind, we are requesting that you remove your structures from the project site within 30 days and discuss with the Dangmebiawe Clan a suitable area for your relocation.
Since then, intense resistance from the villagers has stalled progress of the project, but the company and the District Assembly are optimistic the issues would be settled.
By Edmund Mingle/adrdaily.com