Chiefs in the three regions of the north have been told to seek expert advise on the valuation of their lands to ensure that lands are optimally exploited for the benefit of the people.
Vice-President John Mahama said massive investment in agriculture by the government in the northern regions and the planned implementation of the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) had heightened investor interest in the three northern regions.
“It is, therefore, necessary to seek expert advice to gauge the true value of our lands….and to ensure that our local folks are not displaced due to the allocation of large tracts of land to investors,” he said.
Vice-President Mahama said this when he received a memorandum on the SADA from representatives of the three Houses of Chiefs in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions, who called on him at the Castle, Osu, yesterday.
The memorandum, presented by Naa Professor John Nabila, Wulugu-Naba and President of the National House of Chiefs, highlights recommendations of the chiefs with respect to funding, acquisition of land, representation on the SADA Board and road infrastructure.
The Vice-President stressed that the SADA Bill, which was before Parliament and had already been taken through the second seading, would carry out effective land administration and serve as a vehicle for improving infrastructure in the project areas.
“The intention of government in introducing SADA is to create a new ‘growth pole’ in the northern parts of Ghana, and create opportunities there to bridge the north-south development gap,” he said.
He stated that though the SADA was yet to be implemented, government had taken steps to improve infrastructure in the northern regions including the road network.
“Already, tenders are going out for road projects in the Upper East and Upper West Regions,” he said, and cited the Fufulso-Sawla road project, which he said, would open up the North for economic investments.
Mr. Mahama noted that it was a natural tendency for human beings to move from an area with less economic opportunities to areas that were relatively endowed, stressing that SADA would create a new growth pole to arrest youth migration from the north to the south.
The Vice-President, who received the memorandum on behalf of President J.E.A. Mills, described it as timely and thanked them for their support for the SADA programme. He assured the chiefs that it would be duly forwarded to the President.
Presenting the memorandum, Naa Prof Nabila said it was prepared at a meeting of over 50 chiefs and elders, representing the three regions of the north, on July 10, this year.
At the meeting, he said the chiefs recommended that there needed to be at least three chiefs selected from the three houses of chiefs to be represented on the Board of SADA.
“We further recommended that the start-up funding needed for SADA to take off must be given priority, and a sustainable funding that is reliable should be established for SADA.
“We recommend that modalities for streamlining the acquisition of land be developed in partnership with chiefs and other customary land owners in order to avoid complications in the speedy implementation of projects involving land.”
In addressing the land question, he said the chiefs pledged their commitment to cooperate with SADA on land issues for accelerated development and to become partners in the process. He said the peculiar situation in each traditional area would have to be studied carefully and the modalities for allocating lands would have to be carefully developed.