Regional News of Friday, 11 July 2014
The chiefs, elders and citizens of the Hiowe Division of the Se (Shai) State in the Greater-Accra Region have appealed to the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) for security support to enable them to peacefully take over the collection and administration of tolls from quarries on the Shai Hills.
The recourse has become necessary because an earlier attempt on May 6 this year to take over the collection of the tolls nearly resulted in violence leading to the arrest of some youths who were later released.
The chiefs, elders and the citizens, including the Doryumu Youth Association, decided to take over the collection of tolls because of the failure of the present collectors and managers to account for their stewardship.
Under an arrangement, money accrued from the tolls were to be used for the provision of social amenities and other poverty alleviation initiatives such as scholarship for brilliant, needy students from the area.
The letter, to which was attached a copy of a Power of Attorney granted by the Dodowa District Court for the takeover, was addressed to the Ashaiman Divisional Police Commander and copied to the IGP and other notable personalities, including the MP for Shai-Osudoku, the District Chief Executive for the area, the acting President of the Shai Traditional Council and the National Security Co-ordinator.
According to the letter, which was written after an emergency meeting on Sunday, July 6 and signed on behalf of the group by the Setse (Stool Head) of Abieter, Amos Teye, it was alleged that one Victor Dorson had been in the practice of organising ‘machomen’ to disrupt meetings held for a planned peaceful takeover of toll collection at the quarries. Because of that, it had become necessary for the police to be present on the day of the takeover, July 14, 2014.
Tolls from quarries in the Shai Hills have for years been the only source of revenue for undertaking development projects in the area. To ensure accountability, representatives were nominated from each of the seven clans, namely BlonyaWem, Kutuswe, Apese, Abieter/Salosi, Gbetesie, Obom and Gblaka, to collect tolls from the quarries.
That was the arrangement because for many years Doryumu has not had a substantive chief and has been under the rule of clan heads.
Unfortunately, about four years ago the appointed representatives who collected the tolls stopped rendering accounts to the clan heads and the community.
Proceeds from tolls
Enquiries from the Shai-Osudoku District Assembly revealed that on the average, GH¢10,000 was generated weekly from toll collection.
Following realisation that such colossal amount of money was being siphoned into individual pockets, the Chief State Linguist of the Hiowe Division and some opinion leaders with the support of a section of the clan heads, took the initiative to ensure that the toll collectors rendered accounts for the stewardship.
This was after the Doryumu Youth Association had attempted to forcibly take over the collection and management of the tolls on May 6 that nearly led to a bloodbath, which was averted by the police.