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Regional News of Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Source: Graphic Online

Charcoal truck drivers in tussle over land with family

About 1,000 charcoal truck drivers at Achimota in Accra are on the brink of losing their livelihood, as the road reservation on which they are operating is now being claimed by the Onamrakor Adain Family of Accra.

The drivers, have, however, vowed to stay on the two-acre piece of land until the government, which allowed them to operate on it, decides to take the land back.

However, the Onamrakor Adain Family insists that the government has not paid any compensation for the land and could not, therefore, claim ownership of it.

The Chairman of the Charcoal Truck Operators, Mr Abdullai Mohammed, told graphic.com.gh at the site at Achimota that they would not go anywhere “until the government asks us to. We were not brought here by force so we will not be moved by force".

Explaining further, he said they were officially asked by the Roads Department of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) to occupy the piece of land after efforts to relocate them to the Achimota Terminal had proved unsuccessful.

A letter to that effect, signed by the Metropolitan Roads Engineer, Alhaji Abass Awolu, stated: "The AMA hereby temporarily allocates the Old Achimota Station to the Charcoal Truck Operators."

Mr Mohammed said the association and the roads engineer agreed on the terms and conditions under which the members were to stay at the site, including fencing the area and keeping it tidy at all times, an obligation which, he said, they had carried out diligently.

One of the conditions is: "That the place has been allocated to you temporarily by the AMA and could be taken back by the assembly as and when the need arises."

"This condition we fully understand, but we don't understand why a family is now claiming ownership of a road reservation," Mr Mohammed stated.

He said that aside from charcoal, the truck drivers brought maize, tomatoes, yam and other bulk foodstuffs from Mampong, Wenchi, Kintampo, Atebubu and other rural areas for distribution in the city.

He stated that any move by anyone to eject them would create undue hardship for them and their families and appealed to the government to intervene.

The association has so far received verbal warnings from the Onamrakor Adain Family, the party claiming ownership of the said land, instructing them to vacate the place.

"We have not been paid any compensation for the land and, therefore, do not recognise anybody on it," the Head of the Onamrakor Adain Family, Mr Hammond Tettey Quarcoo, said in reaction to claims by the drivers.

He said the land was within the territory of the Onamrakor Adain Family land and so due process must be followed if any group of people wished to use it for any purpose.

“We are the allodial owners of the land and the charcoal sellers cannot claim that it is a road reservation and so they should be allowed to operate on it,” he added.

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