There is rising tension in the Northern regional capital of Tamale, following the sale of the Tamale Timber Market to a private developer.
Wood traders at the Market have been given two weeks to vacate the place. Many of them have refused to leave, saying the sale will affect their livelihoods.
The Secretary of the traders, Ebo Yahia, said the traders pay forest dues to occupy the space, therefore, he finds it unfair that the Lands Commission is asking them to vacate from the premises.
“We’ve suffered a lot and now that the market is growing people have decided to say they are coming to buy. If those persons had money, they should also go and buy another place and develop. He shouldn’t come and sack us and go there. This forest we start with them, we’re paying forest dues,” he said.
Speaking to Joy News’ Hashmin Mohammed, the angry wood traders expressed their displeasure about the Lands Commission decision to allocate a vast portion of land to a private developer.
“We’re not having any place to go and we are here earning our daily bread we don’t want to go to any place and be sitting idle or engaging in some criminal…we don’t have anything doing anywhere else, we have our business here and we will be here,” one trader stated.
Another trader, Yusif Alhassan, also said they are in the financial position to acquire the land if offered to them by the Lands Commission.
“Even our grandfathers were here so if you are sacking us, where do you want us to go? We are not going anywhere, what will happen will happen. We can also buy the place. We will contribute and buy it,” he stated.
In the year 2015, a five-member fact finding committee was set up by Northern Regional Security Council (REGSEC) to investigate alleged illegal sales of government lands.
They concluded in its report that sales of lands were done with impunity to an extent that it even open spaces left around bungalows of officials of some Heads of Institutions were all sold to private developers.
The Committee later recommended to REGSEC to act to reverse the lawlessness.
Meanwhile, the Minority Leader in Parliament, Haruna Iddrisu, is also demanding that government reverses the sale of the Tamale Timber Market.
According to him, the land which is a property of the Forestry Commission has been offered for sale to private developers while operatives of the Timber Market have been given notice to vacate the place.
Mr Iddrisu, who is also the MP for Tamale South said the sale of the land will not only affect livelihoods and businesses but may also infringe on the rights of the occupants.
He is also requesting an investigation into the activities of the Northern region Land’s Commission.
“Further, I will make formal representations to the Minister for Lands to investigate the indiscriminate sale of public lands in the Tamale Municipality and whether the rise of current/original occupants is being respected by the expectations of the provisions available in the Land Law and the constitution.”