There is brewing tension between occupants of some resettlement communities in the Asuogyaman District of the Eastern Region and the indigenes of Adjena and Adumasa.
The residents of the communities including Pesse, Betensin, Akrobonsu, Besssekrom and Oscar who are mostly fisher folks say they are constantly under siege from the traditional authorities and people of their host communities to vacate the current location and are also being prevented from undertaking any developmental projects in the communities.
The current occupants of the five resettlement communities who were originally located at Pawpawnya-Akwenor were relocated to their current location in 1963 during the construction of the Akosombo Dam.
The affected residents say several engagements with the Volta River Authority (VRA) to intervene in the matter have so far proven futile.
Dadematse of Akrobonsu, Dadematse Tettey Emmanuel Siaw in an interview said the chiefs and people of Adjena are claiming administrative ownership over the piece of land currently being inhabited by the settlers, a situation he said was creating boundary issues in the area.
“Since the construction of the dam displaced our forefathers in 1963, we have been denied eight more buildings [for our settlement] …the people of Adjena have also planted a signpost indicating that where we currently occupy is part of their stool lands so we should vacate the place.
“The Adumasahene, Nana Ansah Kwao II is also selling lands bordering the quarters to the people of Pesse and others in the Adjena Quarters, now we have nowhere to go to…the chief of Adumasa has authorized the piling of blocks on our land to put up buildings and I say we shall fight for our property and if the government fails to intervene, then it should be prepared for any outcome,” he warned.
Dadematse Siaw also accused the chiefs and people of Adjena of preventing members of the settler communities from undertaking any projects in the community, adding that land guards were allegedly brought into the community to fire warning shots to intimidate them.
They also accused the chiefs of Adumasa of outrightly claiming ownership of Akrobonsu and Oscar and accused him of selling portions of the lands to private developers.
Assembly member for the Adjena-West Electoral Area, Honourable Justice Maxwell Awitor who lives in one of the settler communities said layouts were created during the allocation of the plot to the settlers to allow for expansion in the future.
He stressed: “We’re facing a lot of challenges… the building that the government and VRA have given us, there are portions or layouts left so that in the future when our children grow up, they can also build on those layouts because the houses they gave us weren’t enough,” said the Assemblyman.
He particularly accused residents of Adjena-East of harassing the settlers who are in Adjena-West by claiming ownership of the lands. “If we need such lands to do something with it, then our friends from Adjena-East will cross and come and tell us that the whole town belongs to them so we don’t have any lands to build on,” he expressed.
Mr. Awitor said the houses built for the settlers were inadequate to contain entire families hence the need for more lands to accommodate the rising population.
The Assemblyman, therefore, appealed to the government, the VRA and the Asuogyaman District Assembly to intervene to resolve the issue amicably as “defending ourselves and our lands may cause another thing which the government may not like.”
However, responding to the allegations, Secretary to the Adjena Lands Management Board, Mr. Onisephorous Owiredu denied that the settlers were being harassed to quit their present location and accused them of encroaching on lands that are not part of the lands allocated to them by the VRA.
He explained that the traditional authorities at Adjena were only safeguarding their lands from illegal owners who sold the properties to developers. “Nobody can take your settlement houses from you but rather adjoining properties and lands that are being sold by unrightful sellers, that is the ones that we have to put a mark on…our grandfathers saw the wisdom in letting them stay with us all this while, would it be now that we’d sack them to go away, to where?” quizzed Mr. Owiredu.
He admitted that some youths in the Adjena community had prevented the settlers from undertaking some developmental projects outside their space but insisted that these were not sanctioned by the traditional authorities.
Chief of Adumasa, Nana Ansah Kwao II on his part called for a meeting between his side and the settlers for an amicable settlement of the impasse adding that previous efforts on his part to meet with the elders of the settler communities proved futile.
The affected communities have in a petition addressed to the management of the Volta River Authority (VRA) and copied to the DCE for Asuogyaman, the Adjenahene, Adumasahene, the chairman of the Town Development Committee (TDC) of Adjena amongst others and sighted by Ghanaweb allege that the layout of the settlement boundaries outlined by the VRA was being contested by the landlords, leaving no room for community expansion and called on the Authority to intervene.