Thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me the opportunity to comment on the Statement ably made by the Hon Minority Deputy Chief Whip.
Mr Speaker, this Statement is a very important one and I, in my humble opinion, think that this is about the best time for it to be discussed in Parliament because of the issues that are involved. Why am I saying this, Mr Speaker?
If you look at the level of lawlessness in our country, we, as the representatives of the people, must take this Statement serious and begin to deal with the root cause of the problem, so that we do not have to be dealing with only the symptoms of the problem.
Mr Speaker, if you look at the Statement made by my able Hon Colleague, it is true that if you want to demolish a structure, you need to get a lot of things out: electricity and what have you.
The people refused to vacate, how do you implement it? The most important questions which were being asked by my Hon Colleagues are the ones that I think Parliament should take serious. Who sold the land? Who approved for the buildings to go on?
Why did they look on when the structures started at the foundation level? Where were the officers who were supposed to ensure that those lands were
not encroached upon? Who were going round installing electricity into the houses when the rules are very clear that before you can get services into a house, the documentations are required? Where were those officers who gave electricity to these various houses?
Mr Speaker, it is purported that, even property rates were being collected. On what basis were those property rates being collected? Mr Speaker, if it is true that all these things did happen especially with the property rate and then penalties and what have you, there is the need for some people to be punished for the unnecessary pain that they have put on the innocent people.
This is because Mr Speaker, the facts are there for all of us to see. It did not start today, it did not start even ten years ago.
Mr Speaker, the deficit in housing in our country is a real challenge. And because it is a real challenge, almost everyone of us as Ghanaians, our first ambition is to get shelter for ourselves and our families. In the desire to get these things done, Mr Speaker, even where one has a site plan and wants to ascertain from the Lands Commission, the authenticity of what is being sold to you, Mr Speaker, let us ask ourselves, is it easy to do that?
It may be said that ignorance of the law is not an excuse, but Mr Speaker, where people deliberately frustrate other people who want to do the right thing, is what has resulted into what we are seeing -- Mr Speaker, it is painful for any Ghanaian to put even one cedi into a land and wake up to the reality that she was not supposed to have been there and demolition is carried out without due regard to who sold the land to the person, or who authorised the person to build.
Mr Speaker, TDC was not created only yesterday. TDC had been there, Adentan, Asawase, all these Municipal Assemblies, almost all of them have been in existence
before Independence and the authority had been vested in the various Assemblies to deal with these matters.
Why is it that now, there are these rampant breakages everywhere? What I would want this House to do is that, let us investigate these matters, so that the officers who might have given out the land and those who gave the approval must be punished, even if they have moved on.
This is because, Mr Speaker, one of the biggest challenges we have in this country is that, if somebody is a building inspector, let us say in Zuarungu, he thinks that in two, three years, he or she would be transferred, so, he or she would not be there to deal with the aftermath of his or her irresponsibility. So, the person deals with it anyhow, he knows that in two or three years, he would be transferred, he would go and then somebody comes and says, no, this is wrong, the right thing must be done. Now, the one who is insisting to get the right thing done is now being seen as somebody who is acting in an inhuman manner.
Mr Speaker, we need to interrogate this thing properly, so that we would be able to make recommendations to make sure that this thing is stopped. Mr Speaker, even as you and I speak now, if you go to Kumasi, Asawase Constituency in particular, the Kumasi Airport is located there, go and see the amount of encroachment there. Those of us who fly to Kumasi, when you are about touching down and you would see the amount of encroachment almost to the tarmac.
Nobody is acting; they want to wait when it has become an established city, then, they would say they want to go and demolish it. They must begin to act in a
responsible manner to prevent those structures in their smaller forms to be removed before they grow into bigger structures where human beings occupy them for longer periods and then they would come and say they want to remove them.
Mr Speaker, this Statement is the right one at the right time and I think that this House must look into it very well, so that we can begin punishing those who give approval and wrong lands to people to invest in without knowing.
We must also take steps to make sure that, when we want to buy lands, crosschecking about its authenticity should be made easier, so that when all these things are made and then people still go ahead and do the wrong things, we can fault them. But for now, everyone of us knows that it is not easy to go round these institutions without having challenges.
Therefore, I congratulate my Hon Colleague for the Statement and I urge this House to support the Statement, so that we would interrogate the issues fully.