Thursday, 11 June 2015

Is A 'Legal Permit' To Build Within A Waterway Not A Contradiction In Terms?

The recent demolition of two structures in the jurisdiction of the Ga East Municipal Assembly, following the June 3, 2015, floods in Accra, raises a number of issues.

For example, the difference in the way the Ga East Municipal Assembly dealt with a vehicle washing business owned by an ordinary citizen, and a petrol filling station owned by the member of Parliament for Ayawaso East, the Hon. Nasser Mahama Toure, speaks volumes about the way ordinary people in Ghana are often marginalised by some public officials.

Why were all the structures at the petrol filling station not demolished - just as those at the vehicle washing business were?

Both businesses are said to have been built within a waterway in the Mile 7 area - yet still the owners of both businesses apparently possess permits from the Ga East Municipal Assembly.

It is important that all illegally sited structures earmarked for demolition in Ghana are dealt with in exactly the same fashion by District and Municipal  Assembly planning officials - whether they belong to ordinary people or to members of our ruling elites.

No one in our democracy is above the law. Not even the President of the Republic of Ghana is above the law. That is why the social standing of the owners of structures earmarked for demolition should not influence the actions of District and Municipal Assembly officials.

Another issue the said recent demolitions carried out by the Ga East Municipal Assembly raises, is the question of the legality of issuing permits tp build in unapproved places in Ghana.

In light of the widespread destruction and tragic loss of life caused by the recent floods in Accra,  and elsewhere in the country, perhaps the question we ought to pose is: can a permit be lawfully issued to build within a waterway in Ghana - particularly in an area where the location of such structures will lead to flooding of other properties after prolonged rainfall?

In a nation in which there is widespread public-sector corruption, should the assumption not always be that permits to build in unapproved places, such as within waterways, are obtained only by bribing planning officials in District and Municipal Assemblies - and  therefore cannot possibly have been lawfully obtained?

The time has come for all sides in Parliament to come together, to pass a new law to ensure that building permits to build within waterways,  are never issued by planning officials in municipal  and district assemblies anywhere in Ghana - and that when that happens all such permits are regarded as having been unlawfully obtained.

 Whenever flood-control measures are being discussed, there ought to be a national consensus that the safety and well-being of the majority will always override the self-interest of the well-connected and selfish few, who build within waterways in Ghana - and put so many innocent lives at risk during the rainy season.

In any case, even as things currently stand, surely, referring to a 'legal permit' to build within a waterway,  anywhere in Ghana, is a contradiction in terms, is it not?

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