The launch of a proposed construction of a Media Village project at Panpanso, a cluster of villages between Nsawam and Teacher Mante, off the main Nsawam-Suhum Highway, has ignited a potentially-volatile land dispute among the various villages in the Akuapem South Municipal Assembly of the Eastern Region.
The chiefs, elders and people of Panpanso-Ningo – one of the several villages scattered in the area – have vowed to resist any attempt(s) to usurp their lands without their consent. The Chief of Panpanso-Ningo, Nene Kwetsu Blebo II, has already filed a strongly-worded petition to the Chief of Staff, Mrs. Frema Ama Opare, drawing her attention to the looming conflict between the people of the area and the real estate developer, Koan Building Solutions, over the planned construction of real estates in the area.
The sod-cutting ceremony for the commencement of work on the project was held on Tuesday, October 16, 2018.
According to the President of the Ghana Journalist Association (GJA), Mr. Affail Monney, the project was “part of measures to ensure that key steps are taken to address some of the critical needs of journalists.”
”We have been told that the area in contention is not part of our project coverage area,” Mr. Monnie said.
The Media Village project, which is a collaboration between the GJA and real estate company, KOANS Building Solutions, “seeks to provide decent and affordable residential accommodation for journalists in the country,” the president of GJA explained at the project launch last week Tuesday.
Under the agreement, KOANS Building Solutions was contracted to build 100 cluster of houses for GJA members “at affordable prices,” with interested journalists owning a two-bedroom house for Gh¢60,000, or acquire a three-bedroom house for Gh¢80,000 at the GJA Media village.
As one of the lead sponsors of the 22nd GJA Awards, Koans Estate Limited awarded Kwami Sefa Kayi, Journalist of The Year 2016, with a three-bedroom house worth GH¢200,000 at the Media Village as his prize, making him the first journalist to own a house at the village.
But even before actual construction of the project takes off, the chiefs and people of Panpnaso-Ningo are raising red flags over the “purported acquisition of lands for the project from the Mankatah family of Panpanso-Obregyima.”
The aggrieved landowners and residents of the area accuse the Mankatah family of allegedly laying claim to the lands in the area, contrary to documented evidence.
The petition filed with the Chief of Staff, recounts historical facts, which they stress provide evidence to several settled litigation cases at the court on the area, that prove that the ancestral lands in the area were inherited by different respective families over a century ago after they had legally-acquired those lands through outright purchase and, therefore, cannot be legitimately claimed by any single family head.
The petition provides a brief history to the Panpanso lands, which indicates that the Mankatah families were the first to settle in the area in the 1800s but, subsequently, other migrants acquired lands from the Mankatah families through outright purchases to create sub-settlements like Panpanso-Teshie, Panpanso-Ningo, Panpanso-Obregyima, Owusukope, Akramang Tagoe, Panpanso Number One Junction and Addokrom among others.
“The various settlers have, since then, been living peacefully, independently and collectively as communities within their respective boundaries, albeit, acknowledging the paramount leadership of the Mankatah family over Panpanso as a traditional area. This relationship has existed and, for over 150 years, the settler families have maintained exclusive possession of their lands and have cultivated food and cash crops and have built their settlement and cottages without any hindrance, either from the Mankatah family or anybody else,” the petition emphasised.
Against this background, Nene Blebo said that the expropriation of lands by the Mankatah family belonging to communities for commercial real estate development raises serious concerns and could be a recipe for chaos in the area.
The chiefs and elders of the various communities, the petition assures, welcome the contribution of Government, non-governmental organizations and private companies to the development of the area through the establishment of small-scale industries to process farm produce and create job opportunities for the people.
“Indeed, Madam Chief of Staff, we appreciate the fact that development of the area will help to save the people from travelling long distance to Nsawam, Suhum and other places for their respective basic needs,” the petition added.
However, Nene Blebo served notice through the petition that the people of Panpanso-Ningo have resolved to use all legitimate means to protect the lands legally-acquired by their forefathers and that they will use all legitimate means to resist any attempt – irrespective of the source of authority – to forcefully and unilaterally take away lands bequeathed to them by their forefathers.
Nene Blebo is, therefore, praying the office of the Chief of Staff for intervention to “forestall any protracted conflict with the real estate developers, even as we support any legitimate development in the area.”
Story: Freeman KORYEKPOR AWLESU
Writer’s email: email@example.com
Pix: GJA President