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Govt Sued Over Volta Flooded Lands   
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Marietta Brew Appiah Oppong
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Some claimants listed to be paid compensation in the Volta Basin Flooded Area have jointly filed a suit against the government demanding a release of the rest of the package.

The claimants include chiefs and people of Krachi, Pai, Tapa, Afram Plains, Nkomi-Sene, Makango and Apaaso; and they cite the Attorney General (AG) and the Lands Commission as defendants.

They are suing because they claim that since 2013 the government has abrogated the payment schedule contract it had with them and as a result, no payment has been made since then.

Claimants’ Reliefs

The plaintiffs want a declaration that the negotiated settlement concluded in 2008 between them and the government under E.I. 98 of 1974 as amended by E.I. 67 of 1975 in pursuance of certain tranche compensation payments which were made by the government to them was still valid and legally binding.

They also want an order that “the government pay forthwith to the plaintiffs/claimants all tranche compensation to be assessed, due and owing under the negotiated settlement.”

Furthermore, the claimants want an order directed at the government to pay interest or in the alternative, “compensatory damages for the loss suffered by the plaintiffs as a result of the excessive or inordinate default by the government in making the agreed instalment payments that have become due and owing years back.”

Statement Of Claim

According to the claimants, vast stretches of ancestral lands were permanently flooded from 1961 following the construction of the Akosombo Dam being managed by the Volta River Authority (VRA), and were subsequently resettled at largely make-shift resettlement sites.

“Following the inundation of and loss of their ancestral communities and farmlands, the plaintiff/claimants, acting by their heads of families/clans and communities or other recognised representatives, lodged  claims for compensation with the then Lands Department because by the then governing law, particularly Section 27 (4) of the Volta River Development Act, 1961 (Act 46), no legal action could be maintained against the VRA as a result of the inundation of any land caused by the filling of the lake,” they averred.

According to the plaintiffs, the processing of the compensation to the claimants delayed for several factors, including massive conflicts of claims depicted by the official Proprietary Plan prepared and plotted by the then Lands Department.

The plaintiffs said the government eventually concluded a negotiated settlement agreement with them in August 2008 and the assessed compensation for approximately 952,900.20 acres amounted to GH¢198 million which was discounted by 30 percent to GH¢138 million to be done by phase payment schedule spread over eight years, commencing 2009 and ending in 2016.

The plaintiffs averred that the government had so far made only four annual instalment payments since 2009 amounting to GH¢71 million and had persistently failed to make any further installmental payment since 2013, “in clear breach of the agreement.”

Court Proceedings

During the proceedings last week at the Commercial Court, Accra, it emerged that the defendants just filed entry of appearance six months after the claimants had served them with the notice to sue.

As a result, counsel for the plaintiffs, Kwasi Owusu Yeboa, requested for GH¢2,000 cost each against the AG and the Lands Commission, but the court, presided over by Justice Anthony Oppong, awarded GH¢500 each against the defendants and also struck out the interlocutory judgement awarded the claimants against the defendants.

Cabinet, in July 2008, had approved a consolidated amount of compensation totalling GH¢138 million for various stools/families in the Volta Basin flooded area. An estimated 57 groups were said to have benefited from the amount.

So far, about GH¢71 million has been paid to the various claimants and the disbursement of the remaining GH¢67 million has been put on hold to enable the government deal with discrepancies in the payments.
Source: Daily Guide

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