Justice Yaw Apau

Justice Yaw Apau

The head of surveys and mapping at the Lands Commission says the maps presented by claimants listed to be paid compensation in the Volta Basin Flooded Area were all forged.

Wilson Kwasi Opoku, who is the Acting Director of Surveys at the Lands Commission, told the Commission of Enquiry investigating the payment of judgement debts yesterday that the authorities should not have sanctioned payment to the claimants based on the documents they presented, especially the maps indicating where their lands were flooded when the Akosombo Dam was constructed.

Cabinet Approval

Most of the processes for compensation were done between 2004 and 2008, even though some claims dated back to the 1970s, but the actual payments started in 2009.

So far, about GH?71 million has been paid to the various claimants and the disbursement of the remaining GH?67million has been put on hold to enable the government deal with discrepancies in the payments.

Cabinet in July 2008 approved a consolidated amount of compensation totalling GH?138 million for various stools/families in Pai, Apaaso, Makango, Ahmandi and Kete Krachi Traditional Areas and about 57 groups were said to have benefited from the amount.

Discrepancies

When Sole Commissioner Justice Yaw Apau showed Mr Opoku some of the maps the claimants used to secure the huge sums, the Chief Surveyor responded that his department did not vet the maps submitted by the Volta Basin claimants.

?If the licensed surveyor has not looked at the maps, there is no way the Regional Lands Surveyor will even approve it,? he insisted.

He said although some of the maps had been approved by a Licensed Surveyor, it did not bear the Regional Lands Surveyor?s license, saying, ?there is no way such documents should have been approved.?

Fake Maps

Mr Opoku, flanked by George Okwabi Frimpong, a Geomatic Engineer in charge of Operations, further told the commission that it was impossible for the claimants to extract a map indicating their land size from a topo sheet and present them for payment as they did.

?There should be pre-existing maps to be able to get current maps out of the submerged areas,? he said, adding that ?the documents before the commission suggested that there was a general valuation for all the inundated areas irrespective of the nature and value of the lands.

?The whole situation is baffling. The Volta Basin job was not properly done,? he noted.

Some of the witnesses who have appeared before the Sole Commissioner have been tendering in evidence site plans that did not have dates but were purportedly used by the witnesses to claim the money from the Lands Commission.

Apau Shocked

The judge has variously expressed shock at how the Lands Commission could have proceeded to order the release of the various amounts of money to the claimants based on the documents the witnesses are tendering before the commission.

He did not understand why communities that were resettled by the government in the 1960s, given communal lands and paid compensation for crops destroyed by the Volta River floods could turn around to claim compensation almost 50 years later.

Asetena Mensah Factor

All the witnesses have been telling the commission that one Nana B.K. Asetena Mensah, a leader in the communities in Krachi, was the one who had commissioned Kwadwo Ababio & Co, a consultant and surveyors, to survey the submerged area out of which the individual plotting were done.

The commission has made it clear that Nana Asetena Mensah never came forward to make any claims. Rather, he delegated Krachiwura Nana Mprah Besemuna III, a retired Police Commissioner?who he said had no stake in the lands?to lead the chase for the compensation.

The Krachiwura has since testified, saying that he represented the Kantakofore Clan in the whole transaction.

By William Yaw Owusu

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