General News of Friday, 16 January 2004
Anum(E/R), Jan. 16, GNA - Residents of the Volta River Authority (VRA) resettlement communities in the Asuogyaman District in the Eastern Region said they would take measures to ensure that the VRA paid compensation to all those whose lands were acquired for the construction of the Akosombo Dam.
Speaking at a People's Assembly at Anum in the Asuogyaman District on Wednesday, the residents threatened that they would, henceforth, stop paying electricity bills until the Volta River Authority fulfilled its obligation.
Mr Francis Nsonowa, a farmer from Ajena, who claimed he was championing the cause of the residents, expressed regret that though the VRA failed to compensate all the people, it continued to collect electricity bills from them adding "no payment of compensation, no payment of electricity bills".
He said the people would demand their lands if the VRA or any other agency forcibly disconnected their lights for non-payment of bills. Mr Nsonowa said although the VRA had secretly paid some compensation, it failed to provide adequate facilities at the settlements.
The Asuogyaman District Chief Executive, Dr Godfried Siaw, asked the residents not to engage in any confrontation with the VRA and advised that they should rather initiate a platform for dialogue.
He also appealed to the VRA to publish a list of all beneficiaries of the compensation and how much each received because some people had collected benefits but kept it a secret.
Participants at the forum also called on the government to review the activities of the VRA and the Asuogyaman District Assembly. They particularly wanted the issue of which body had the right to collect taxes and tolls in the Akosombo township and other environs under the VRA's jurisdiction and how the proceeds should be shared among the two institutions.