The future of the Kantamanto Market in Accra, the one-time centre for brisk business in second-hand clothing, is in limbo.
This is so because almost two weeks after fire destroyed the market, controversy is deepening over what the land will be used for.
While the traders say they should be allowed to put up their own shops and stalls for them to resume business, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) says it intends to build a shopping mall to replace the burnt market.
Many people appear more confused over the future of the market because the Ministry of Transport (MoT), under whose jurisdiction the Ghana Railway Authority (GRA) which owns the land falls, has made it clear that the ministry plans to revamp the old railway line in Accra, including the destroyed market, into a modern railway hub with shopping malls and other commercial outlets.
Even as the three bodies are yet to sort out their differences, another altercation has cropped up over ownership of the land.
Whereas the Gbese Stool is claiming title ownership to the piece of land, the Kantamanto Traders Association has produced a document that indicates that the GRA leased the land to the association for 50 years.
Regarding the development of the land, the Minister of Transport, Ms Dzifa Aku Attivor, has indicated plans by the ministry to revamp the old railway terminal in Accra.
Ms Attivor told the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday that the Kantamanto railway land would be developed into a modern rail station as part of the general plan to change the face of the railway system in the country.
The decision, she said, had nothing to do with the fire outbreak which occurred on Sunday, May 5, 2013.
Before that incident, she said, the ministry had served notice to the traders to quit the market for the redevelopment of the terminal.
Already, she said, as part of the redevelopment of the railway system in the country, the Accra-Tema railway had been rehabilitated, while rail stations had been established at the Tema Harbour and Asoprochona.
She said the construction of rail stations at Odorna, Baastona and Achimota had encountered some challenges.
According to Ms Attivor, there was the need for the construction of a parking lot at Baastona and Achimota to facilitate the use of the rail stations there.
The development of the Kantamanto railway land was only a part of the general development plan to give the railway system a facelift, she said.
“Such a project will come along with facilities such as shops, restaurants and restrooms,” she said.
On the apparent contradiction between the plan of the ministry and that of the AMA, Ms Attivor dismissed that suggestion and said the AMA was responsible for the development of markets, but the development of railways and terminals was the mandate of the ministry and its agencies.
She said the ministry and the AMA could work together for the common good.
At a news conference in Accra a day after the fire had gutted the market, the AMA Chief Executive, Mr Alfred Okoe Vanderpuiye, said the reconstruction of the Kantamanto Market would begin in July this year.
According to him, the new market, construction of which was expected to be completed in December 2013, was to be a modern complex to befit Accra as a Millennium City.
But even before the two government institutions could align their plans for the Kantamanto Market, the Gbese Stool has come out to claim ownership of the land and warned that nothing should be done on the Kantamanto land without its approval.
A statement issued by the principal king makers of the Gbese Stool said as the allodial owners of the land, they must be consulted on any future development, since the 99-year lease agreement with the GRA had expired.
“Recent media reports in the aftermath of the disaster have hinted that plans are underway to have those markets rebuilt. It is our contention that the stool must be consulted, having regard to the intended rebuilding plans,” it said.
It said although the recent incident at the Kantamanto Market had caused much pain to the stool, any attempt to develop the land without its permission would be regarded as illegal.
Responding to the claims made by the Gbese Stool, fire victims at the market said they acquired the land from the GRA and would only evacuate after the 50-year lease had expired.
Although leaders of the traders group could not be reached for their comments, Madam Rebecca Kpogah, a second-hand clothes dealer, who spoke to the Daily Graphic yesterday said it was up to the railway authorities to settle their differences with the Gbese Stool.
“So far as the document of lease is concerned, traders will only leave the land after 50 years. This issue of ownership never came up during our five-year stay on the land, but now that we have lost everything, the Gbese Stool is claiming ownership of the land. Let them solve it with the railway authorities,” she added.
Madam Veronica Tsegah, who claimed to have lost wares worth GH¢4,200 to the fire, claimed that the leaders of the traders were putting documents together to head for the courts.
“We will not sit down for people who sit at the top to dictate to us what to do. Since our wares were destroyed, has any of one them come to give us food to eat? The only thing that is of concern to them is the land, not our well-being,” she said.
Source: Daily Graphic
|Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are those of the writers and do not reflect those of Peacefmonline.com. Peacefmonline.com accepts no responsibility legal or otherwise for their accuracy of content. Please report any inappropriate content to us, and we will evaluate it as a matter of priority.|