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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Kumasi Girls School wall destroyed - As boundry dispute worsens

Daily Graphic Wednesday April 15, 2009 Page 11

Story and Picture: Enoch Darfah Frimpong, Kumasi

The tension between the authorities of the Kumasi Girls High School (KUGHIS) and the chiefs and people of Abrepo over a boundary dispute took a new turn as unknown assailants demolished the school’s wall/
The assailants who were alleged to have been hired by the chiefs of Abrepo destroyed about 100 metres of the wall whose construction had been funded by the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) last week.
The matter has since been reported to the Suame Police for investigations and the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II has been informed about the latest development.
There has been a protracted boundary dispute between the authorities of KUGHIS and the chiefs and people of Abrepo comprising the Apeede and Dufie Royal House which had travelled to many quarters for amicable solution over the years.
Whilst the authorities of the school claim that about 50 private individuals have encroached on its land at Bohyen Abrepo, a suburb of Kumasi and put up residential accommodation making the expansion of the school difficult, the developers claim the land was sold to them by Nana Kwabena Poku, Asantehene’s Apeedehene and Nana Osei Mensah Bonsu representing the Dufie Royal House.
The chiefs on their part claim that the authorities of the school did not pay for the land when it was acquired in 1974; hence they have the right to take parts of the land from the school.
The developers have built without any proper building documents from the appropriate quarters.
An attempt by the authorities of the school to complete a fence wall project, which was started in 2007, was initially interrupted with a suit at the Kumasi High Court filed by Nana Badu Antwi against the Lands Commission, GES and the Board of Governors of the school to put an injunction on the project, but the plaintiff decided to discontinue the case at the third sitting and a fine of GH¢1500 imposed on him.
In July 2008, the chiefs again sent an appeal to the Ashanti Regional Coordinating Council (ARCC) for the Regional Minister to intervene since the construction of the wall was going to deny the developers access to their homes.
The then Regional Minister, Mr Emmanuel A. Owusu Ansah in arriving at an amicable resolution after personally inspecting the entire stretch of the school’s boundary which had been encroached upon asked the school’s authorities to let go off the lands, which had already been encroached upon in the interest of peace.
He ordered that the school authorities should construct the fence wall to protect the remaining lands and leave a space of not less than 40feet behind the wall so as to give the encroaching developers, access to their various homes.
The Regional Minister was able to come up with the resolution when he met with the authorities of Kumasi Girls, the Chiefs of Abrepo and some of the private individual developers in July 2008.
However, in March this year, the Apeede and Dufie Royal House sent a new petition to the Ministry of Lands and Forestry whilst some of the private developers who have encroached on the schools land, describing themselves as Abrepo Concerned Citizens Association also sent a petition to the Minister of Education for intervention.
The petitioners claimed that in 1996 the Ghana Education Service (GES) recommended that 20-acres out of the 100-acre land which was acquired by the school should be given to the royal family in other to prevent further trouble or encroachment and bring about peace.
They contended that ever since the mediation by the GES, the Board of Directors of the school has refused to honour the agreed terms of settlement by the GES.
In a response to the petition, the school authorities explained that the GES in 1996 never agreed to cede 20-acres of the land to the chiefs, rather the GES only recommended that the lands be given to the chiefs in the interest of peace.
Again, the school authorities said the GES in its reply in 1996 made it clear that “no one had legitimate right to cede any peace of government land to anyone”.
They said in any case, evidence on the site shows that more than 20-acres of the school land have already been sold to individual developers by the chiefs and there are volumes of letters from the Lands Commission and GES but none has been adhered to by the chiefs and elders.
The school authorities explained that the contract to build the fence wall along the legally surveyed boundary was awarded by the government through the GETFund to help stop further encroachment and also to protect the students.
The Board Chairman and the Headmistress of the School, Mr E. Asamoah-Yaw and Ms Mary Kraah told the Daily Graphic that they would wish for peace to prevail on campus to ensure effective teaching and learning.
The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, bearing in mind the importance he attaches to education is said to have expressed displeasure at the destruction of the school’s fence wall when the matter was reported to him.

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