Tema, Ghana’s most planned city, being the heart of the country’s development, at the onset of the country’s independence is gradually losing its pride due to indiscriminate development and encroachment within the Metropolis over the past few years.

Ghana News Agency Tema Team observatory tour discovered that the open stretch of land earmarked as greenbelts within the Metropolis to prevent neighbouring communities from merging into one another has been engulfed by industrialist, commercial unit owners and business centers.

Portions of the stretch, which initially served as playgrounds and recreation for the communities, have also been encroached upon by private developers who have erupted permanent structures on it.

The illegal encroachment in the greenbelt has been a big concern to some residents of Tema who told the Ghana News Agency that petitions have been sent to the authorities including the Tema Metropolitan Authority, and the Tema Development Corporation.

A resident, Ms Victoria Dadson, appealed to TMA and TDC to act immediately to halt the indiscriminate development in the Metropolis.

“Squatters and illegal developers have chosen to clothe themselves with purported permits which empowered them to erect structures in the greenbelt zone,” Ms Dadson stated.

She also attributed the challenges to an apparent lack of coordination between public institutions which have given rise to the illegal development and fast rate of encroachment.

Another resident, Mr Clement Owusu, also told GNA some of the illegal developers have sealed some liquid waste manholes, a situation he described as a ticking time bomb.

He stated that, there are several underground pipes, sewer lines and installations, which when permanent structures are erected on would be difficult to access in case of any emergencies or fault.

Mr Joseph Sackitey, also a resident, bemoaned the cutting down of trees that was meant not only to regulate temperature and reduce water runoff, but also to contribute to the wellbeing of residents by mitigating the adverse impacts associated with pollution, noise, traffic, and provide nature for urban dwellers.

A nurse midwife and a resident of Tema A-Z, Mrs Rebuena Naa Mensah Tagoe, recounted an attempted encroachment by a fast food company, who tried to undertake an illegal development in a greenbelt area in Community 7.

According to her, had it not been the timely and crucial interception by the late former President Jerry John Rawlings and the former Member of Parliament for Tema Central, Mr Kofi Brako, who together with the Assembly members in Tema, kicked against the development, the company would have had access to the green piece of land.

“This is the only space we can assemble should there be any emergency, the only space fire service can park in an event of fire outbreak,” she added.

The residents GNA spoke with expressed sadness at the rate of encroachment in Tema and called on TMA and TDC to solve the problems of the Metropolis before the whole city was engulfed in wooden structures in the name of shops and business centers.

TMA Public Relations Officer, Mr Frank Asante confirmed the rise in encroachment within the Metropolis, stating that, the canker was a national problem and that it was much worse in the cities and towns.

“If you look at Tema, because of planning, trees were planted at designated places, but because they interfere with sewage lines and residential buildings, the assembly sets out to either prune or remove them,” he said.

He stated that, this factor was what led to squatters occupying the lands with wooden and illegal structures thereby bringing about chaos and unplanned settling within the Metropolis.

He expressed gratitude to the Church of Pentecost and Dangote Cement for collaborating with the Assembly to provide seedlings to grow trees within the Metropolis.

He appealed to corporate Tema to assist the Assembly and advised residents not to cut trees on the blind side of the Assembly.