Residents of Tema have vowed to resist the takeover by a Chinese developer of land housing the Tema Metropolitan Library and Children’s Park at Tema Community Five in the Tema West Municipality.
The land located between the Tema Secondary School and the WAEC examination hall has had the only public library in Tema situated on it for decades.
Mr. Abraham Lartey, a Social Activist and resident of Tema, told the Ghana News Agency that he had witnessed an excavator digging trenches around the library and children’s park.
He said trips of sand and stones had also been heaped on the land, ready for the commencement of a construction project on the said land and such a project would negatively affect the social and educational lives of residents who depend on the library and the playground for various activities.
Mr. Ian Tabalor Okwei, the Protocol Officer of the TDC Development Company Limited, reacting to allegations that TDC had sold the land to the Chinese developers, questioned how they could have sold land that did not belong to them.
Mr. Okwei explained that per the local government law, TDC only managed the documentation of public lands on its layout, while the assemblies oversee the day-to-day activities on such lands.
He said that TDC was only entitled to receive a peppercorn, which was the payment of a small amount, and therefore TDC could not benefit from the commercialization of such public lands, adding that the purpose of public lands in the layout could also not be changed even when used for commercial purposes.
He indicated that, in line with the law, they were obliged to grant a sub-lease request made by the Tema Metropolitan Assembly (TMA) to the developers, W.B. Impex Limited, for a supposed commercial recreational centre for a 55-year period.
The TDC Protocol Officer said his outfit received a formal request for the sub-lease from the TMA during the leadership of Mr. Kempes Ofosuware, the then Metropolitan Chief Executive.
He added that the immediate past MCE for the Tema Metropolis, Mr. Felix Mensah Nii Anang-La, in 2018 validated the earlier request for the sub-lease release to the Chinese developers after the issue was left untouched for years, which was then granted after auditing.
Mr. Kempes Ofosuware, on his part, told the GNA in Tema that he wrote to TDC when he was heading the TMA to ascertain the ownership and purpose of the land when a Chinese investor and his Ghanaian counterpart approached the assembly to request the land for the construction of apartments.
Mr. Ofosuware said he started the process especially to augment the government’s effort to bridge the high housing deficit the country faced, adding, however, that the process was not completed when he left office.
According to him, Mr. Anang-La, however, found it expedient to continue the process and granted W.B. Impex Limited the lease request, leading to the company currently taking possession of the land.
The Ghana News Agency learnt that, because the project would affect the only public library, the TMA, as part of the lease arrangement, asked the developer to construct a new library on Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park at Tema Community One near the TDC traffic light.
The new library project, which was started in January 2021 and was expected to have been completed by December 2021, is still yet to be completed and abandoned, with squatters and miscreants taking over the structure.