By Lydia Asamoah, GNA
Accra, March 13, GNA - Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, says the Achimota Forest should remain a forest and must not be tampered with to enable it to support the climate of Accra.
“My personal opinion is that it must be reserve as a forest… that Achimota Forest should be left as it is and must not be tampered with. We need spaces in Accra to be forested,” he said.
Prof. Frimpong-Boateng was speaking at a meeting with officials of the Land Use and Spatial Planning Authority (LUSPA), formerly Town and Country Planning Department.
Responding to a question posed by the Ghana News Agency on the status of the decision by the previous government of turning part of the Achimota Forest into an ecotourism park, Prof. Frimpong-Boateng said although no official government stand had been taken, he was of the opinion that the forest should be left intact.
“Anybody who wants to do ecotourism should, perhaps, go to the Atiwa or Kakum Forest. My personal opinion is that Achimota Forest should be reserved as a forest,” the Minister said.
He asked that all temporary church structures that had been put up in the forest should be pulled down, saying; “I’m for the construction of houses for God, but not in the forest.”
He said people could go to the forest and pray but not to build structures there to destroy the flora and fauna.
The meeting forms part of the familiarization and working visits by the Environment Minister to various agencies and departments under the ministry.
Prof. Frimpong-Boateng, who was briefed on the work of the authority, urged the staff to do more on rebranding it and work to generate enough money to help improve their working conditions and salaries.
The minister was received on arrival by Mr Lawrence Dakurah, the Acting Chief Executive Officer of LUSPA, who briefed him on the work of the authority and led a team of officials to take the minister round the various units.
Mr Dakurah said the authority had never approved of turning part of the Achimota Forest into an ecotourism park. It is a forest that has been gazetted and it would remain as such.
“So as a matter of principles we haven’t given any authorisation for that place to be used for ecotourism and on our plans it is still maintain there as a forest reserve… technically that place has still been reserved as a forest reserve,” he said.
Mr Dakurah said the authority had just metamorphosed from a department into an authority by an Act of Parliament, Act 952 of 2016.
He said by the new Act, the authority had now been empowered to work within its mandates and provide for the sustainable planning and judicial use and development of land in the whole country.
Mr Dakurah said with the change of name and structure there remained lots to be done to enable the authority to function properly, saying the governing board, for instance, needs to be approved by government to direct the operations of the authority.
He said a new office complex was also needed to host it headquarters in Accra and that a land had already been acquired to that effect adding that what was left was funding.
Mr Dakurah said the authority did not only issue building permits as perceived by the public but was involved with planning and management of spatial space, data maps, and street naming, among other things.
He said it was not the mandate of the authority to demolish structures and unauthorised buildings on water ways, saying that remained the work of the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies.
He urged the public to consult the authority for building permits before they construct any building.
The authority is in the process of preparing a spatial development framework for the Ashanti and Greater Accra regions to help in their proper development.