play videoThe Owabi Dam has come under constant attack
The Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) is to demolish over 100 houses encroaching on the catchment area of the Owabi Dam and the company’s lands at Bokankye and Esaase all in the Ashanti region.
It follows the Kumasi High Court’s dismissal of an application seeking to restrain the company from claiming ownership of the encroached land.
Gyaasehene of Sene, Nana Osei Yaw filed that application last year to prevent the state and GWCL from recovering any part of the said land encroached upon by the former and his assigns.
But High Court judge, Justice Senyo Amedahe ruled that granting such an order could affect the production of portable water to Kumasi and its environs.
"It is true that the applicant is the allodial owner of the disputed area but the respondent has the legal administrative right over area in dispute and not the respondent. If this application is granted, it will restrict the respondents from discharging their administrative control over the disputed area," the court ruled.
The court continued, "disposing off the lands in the disputed area will lead to the vegetation being cleared and one will not need to study rocket science to know that by clearing vegetation within the catchment area will affect the volume of water to accumulate in the dam for the production of enough portable water to serve the city of Kumasi and its environs.
"The Owabi Dam and its water treatment plant is a national asset which is necessary for the sustenance of life of those who depend on it for treated water," the ruling said.
The Owabi Dam currently produces two million gallons of water below its full capacity of three million gallons of water daily.
Its 22-feet depth has been reduced to 7 feet due to siltation.
Attempts by the Ghana Water Company, to protect the catchment of the Owabi Dam have not yielded the desired results.
Developers continue to encroach on the dam despite the adverse implication of their actions.
At least, three people, including a middle-aged man believed to have sold the land to private developers were arrested in 2016.
In an attempt to prevent GWCL from recovering the stolen lands, plaintiff, Nana Osei Yaw argued in court that the company failed to pay compensation to land owners.
But the court ruled that he could resort to legal avenues to ensure payment of compensations.
"If the reason for this suit is because government has not paid the allodial owners from whom the land was taken, any compensation, there are legal avenues available for the land owners to ensure that they are paid.
"The refusal of government to pay compensation to land owners from government acquired properties does not revert ownership and control to the allodial owners," the court ruled.
The court further ruled production of water for Kumasi and its environs will suffer if the application is granted.
"The entire city of Kumasi may end up suffering from shortage of drinking water should the demands of the applicant be granted as compared to the number of people living in the disputed area who may suffer if the application is disallowed," it said.
The ruling has paved way for the demolition of structures cited illegally on the company’s lands.
The Ghana Water Company Limited has been carrying out public announcements warning residents of an impending demolition exercise.
Officials in the region have declined to comment on the issue saying they have not been authorised to speak on the issue.
None of the developers were on site during Nhyira News' visit to the area.
But sources tell Nhyira News the plaintiff has filed an appeal at the Appeals Court for a review of the High Court decision.