The government has begun investigations into circumstances that led private developers to appropriate state lands occupied by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Accra.
The Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, who made this known, said the Office of the Chief of Staff was leading the multi-ministerial engagement that involved MESTI and the ministries of Lands and Natural Resources (MLNR) and Works and Housing to get to the root of the matter.
“Nobody can authorise the sale of CSIR lands or property without recourse to the sector minister. Even the President will not do that because this is a democracy and we are governed by laws. We will get to the root of this issue,” he said.
Prof. Frimpong-Boateng made this known in response to a question posed to him by the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament, Mr. James Klutse Avedzi, on what he (the minister) was doing to protect CSIR lands and property from encroachment.
Mr. Avedzi entreated the minister to ensure that none of the members of staff of CSIR was ejected from his or her bungalow, saying: “We want to insist and let you know that those members of staff should not be compelled to leave the place until you get to the root of the matter.”
The minister was among heads of institutions under the CSIR who appeared before the PAC in Parliament yesterday to answer queries raised against them by the Auditor-General in its 2017 report.
Among the CSIR institutions whose heads appeared before the committee were the Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (STEPRI), the Animal Research Institute (ARI), the Forestry Research Institute, the Oil Palm Research Institute (OPRI) and the Water Research Institute (WRI).
On August 31, this year, workers of CSIR demonstrated against the demolition of some of their bungalows at Labone in Accra by some private developers who claimed to have been authorised by the Lands Commission to undertake the exercise.
Also, on August 8, 2020, the Daily Graphic carried a story in which the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr. Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, had fingered officials of CSIR-ARI in the sale of CSIR-ARI lands at Katamanso, near Adenta in the Greater Accra Region.
However, the Director of the ARI, Dr. E.D.O. Ansa, denied the claim and said officials of the institute were not involved in the illegal sale of land.
According to Prof. Frimpong-Boateng, he was not aware of the sale of any bungalow or land belonging to the CSIR to private persons and gave an assurance that the matter would be delved into to unravel those behind the act.
“If it is true that the Lands Commission or the Works and Housing Ministry is selling something belonging to an agency under my ministry, I should be informed, but I have no idea about it and the Director-General of the CSIR does not know about it too.
“The bungalows are occupied by staff of the CSIR and we find it distasteful that someone can go with bulldozers and earth-moving equipment to pull them down,” he added.
When asked if STEPRI was still relevant, he said the mandate of the institute was critical to research and the scientific advancement of the country.
For his part, the Director-General of the CSIR, Prof. Victor Kwame Agyeman, said the council would ensure the protection of its land.
In line with that, he said, a directive had been given to the various institutes of the council to construct security walls to safeguard their land.
He also said efforts were being made by his outfit to address queries in the Auditor-General’s report, especially on management and safety issues.
Source: General News