An Overview of Compulsory Land Acquisition in Ghana: Examining Its Applicability and Effects

Albert Adu-Gyamfi


In Ghana, to ensure life that is sustainable now and in the future, the government need to provide basic infrastructures that will promote economic, cultural, health and social wellbeing of its citizens. For this development to take place the government need to acquire land that will act as a platform for such interventions. Whereas in the country, land ownership is guaranteed in the lordship of customary interest, the state has no option than to employ eminent domain to acquire private rights in land without complete accepted agreement from the owners for societal benefit. The framework within which implementing organisations in the country carry out the processes is highly appalling and has resulted in detrimental outcomes. The application of compulsory acquisition in the country has led to undermine the principles of good governance. The need to strictly adhere to the rules and procedures of the legislative tool and also inadequate payment of compensation has become obvious and apparent. Considering these intricacies and complications involved in the compulsory acquisition process in the country requires some perceptible revision that will promote good practices among governments at local, regional and national level.

The methodology applied for this paper was drawing on pragmatic and realistic studies pertaining to compulsory acquisition in Ghana through qualitative and quantitative analytical framework. The research design used for the research was the case study approach to put the study in context. Study difficulties as well as wide-ranging nature of research were taken into consideration in employing this approach. The research focused on how compulsory acquisition has been applied in Ghana. Issues considered include principles underpinning the legislative tool, argument in support and against compulsory acquisition. It also goes on to discuss the pattern of land ownership in Ghana and procedures for exercising compulsory acquisition. Lastly, this paper also puts much emphasis on how lands acquired by the government of Ghana have been utilised.

Characteristically, compulsory acquisition in the Ghana can be described as disturbing and disruptive. This is highly manifested particularly from the ownership structure of land occupied by customary tenure. The study reveals some bottlenecks in the processes and procedures of land acquisition where involvement of land owners at the initial stage is missing. An inventory of land acquired in Central Region (Ghana) showed that about 82% of land size acquired by the state did not follow proper executive instruments. Also about 44% of lands acquired by the state have not been utilised. These implications have resulted in non-payment of fair and equitable compensation and states land been encroached.

Effective determination of appropriate compensation, protection of government lands through proper safeguarding mechanisms, development of unused lands and strictly adhering to the spelt out policies governing compulsory acquisition in the country could help eliminate, if not reduce its associated impacts.

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