…After dashing prime Cantonments land to private developer
The Herald, has landed a disturbing development on some senior officers of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) who are being ejected from their official residence, because the prime land on which their houses are situated, has been given out to a private developer in a deal which leaves the military establishment shortchanged.
The famous Number 1 Rangoon Villa and Number 2 Rangoon Villa at Cantonments –Accra which houses some of Ghana’s Army’s top officers since time immemorial, will soon be razed down and replaced with high-rising properties owned by a company called Goldkey Ghana Limited, and to be called “Cantonment City”.
Also to be flattened after the officers had been thrown out from their rundown bungalows, are the prominent Rangoon Close houses numbering 10 and occupied by the senior Army officers from the ranks of lieutenant colonel, colonel and brigadier generals.
The juicy land, measuring a couple of acres adjacent to Ghana Police Headquarters and behind the Cantonments Police Station, Police Barracks and Police Hospital in the heart of Accra, has been exchanged with some paltry developments inside Burma Camp.
The Ministry of Defense and Ghana Armed Forces, has entered a deal with Goldkey Ghana Limited to put up a legal directorate for the GAF, GHQ office complex and an office complex specifically for the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) inside Burma Camp in Accra.
The CDS’s complex, according to The Herald’s information, has already been constructed, but the accommodation for the senior officers living on the state land remains uncertain.
Experts say, the land in question will cost several millions of dollars if valued and put in the open market for sale.
The deal is shady and many of the military officers are beginning to question whether those in-charge of the Ghana Armed Forces got value from the land for house arrangement with Goldkey Ghana Limited.
Already, the Police administration, had gone into a similar arrangement with the same company and gotten the new Cantonments Police Station office complex and a few flats which many police officers have described as poorly constructed and with inferior products.
The Herald is also informed that some senior staff of 37 Military Hospital, also live in the area. They had been strategically placed closer to the hospital for times of emergency medical treatment.
Although, no official communication has been issued to the officers, The Herald is informed that many of them are living on the edge confused as to when they will be told to pack and move out of their residence for Goldkey Ghana Limited to have access to the state plot for its profit-making venture.
The Herald is informed that, the Rangoon lands in Cantonments are not the only ones being given out in the land for houses and property deals the current military hierarchy has gone into with private developers whose names the GAF has refused to disclose.
On Wednesday, The Herald reported that the sale of portions of military prime lands in Accra, including official residences of the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) and Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) have been quietly slashed and sold to a yet-to-be-identified private developer.
Mention has been made of the portions of the official residence of the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) at Roman Ridge in Accra, known as “Number One Roman Ridge” which has been sold out to a yet-to-be-identified private developer.
Also gone out of the military occupancy, The Herald, learnt, is a part of the official residence of the Army Commander known as “Number Two Roman Ridge” also located at Roman Ridge next door to the CDS’s residence.
The terms of the transaction which has left the rank and file of the military grumbling, are not known. They only heard that parts of the lands have been sold out by some senior officers on the claim that they are too big, hence becoming very difficult to maintain.
But this is not the first time that these lands have been embroiled in controversy. About eight years ago, under the John Mahama administration, there was a hullabaloo over these same lands with reports the government wanted to sell them.
In the melee, then President John Mahama was forced to come out to deny the accusations that his government was selling off military lands and other properties to private developers.
Mr Mahama, had to debunk the allegations when he inaugurated a new accommodation facility for the junior officers of the Ghana Air Force in the Western Region in March 2015.
At the time a group called the Alliance for Safeguarding the Integrity of the Security Services (ASISS), had sworn on their lives to fight attempts by the then Mahama government to sell military lands to private developers.
ASISS which is made up of ex-military officers had at the time catalogued several lands and properties they claim have been sold or given to private developers including the No.1 Roman Ridge residence, Army officers Mess, 1 Drake Avenue, Labadi Villa’s land and Teshie Camp (portions have been sold).
In a statement jointly signed by Lt Col A. Serebour (RTD), Wg Cdr B.A. Asamoah (RTD) and Major N. Mensah (RTD) said it’s meant to “vehemently protest against indiscriminate sale” of army properties in the country because the practice has “the potential to inhibit future development and expansion of the service.”
They were emphatic that some properties of the military, including historic places were being sold out to private developers, something which, according to them, the hierarchy of the military must pull the brakes over as a means of protecting and preserving the forces’ heritage for future generations.
“We have convincing evidence that Ghana Armed Forces properties, including places of historic importance, are being sold to private developers.”
Reliable information reaching them, according to the statement is that the spree is not limited to Accra but to other garrisons across the country.
These properties, according to the retired soldiers, are being sold to private developers to be used for shopping malls, hotels, private hospitals, and filling stations among others.
On The Herald’s publication on Wednesday, Brigadier General, E Aggrey-Quashie, the Director General Public Relations of GAF, has issued a statement to deny the land sale.
It said “The Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) wishes to debunk a report by the Herald Newspaper claiming portions of military prime lands in Accra, including official residences of the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) and Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) have been quietly slashed and sold to a yet-to-be-identified private developer.
“The report also alleged that, the terms of the transaction are not known and that some senior officers sold parts of the lands on the claim that they were too big, hence becoming very difficult to maintain.
“We wish to categorically state that no military lands have been sold to a private developer by the Armed Forces; as the Institution is only a custodian of the lands it is using and does not have any authority or right to dispose of same.
“Where lands being occupied by GAF have been developed, any such development, have been done in conjunction with the Ministry of Defence with the approval of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.
“It is worth mentioning that there are plans to redevelop the area in question to increase the number of residential accommodations in line with the expansion programme of GAF. Currently, the area in question has only two (2) residential accommodations.
“It is envisaged that after the redevelopment, the number of residential accommodations for senior officers will increase to thirteen (13). We wish to emphasise that the report by the Herald Newspaper is false and that no military lands have been sold to a private developer.
“The doors of GAF are still open to the media and the general public, as such, it is expected that the media would verify such information with GAF to avert the dissemination of misleading and inaccurate information that have the propensity of drawing the image of GAF into disrepute.