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CSIR Staff upset over transfer of 400-acre land to private developer

The National Executives of Staff Associations of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) have expressed concerns about the alleged secret transfer of over 400 acres of land for research development, to private developers.

Being Ghana’s foremost science and technology institution, the CSIR which was established after independence, had been at the forefront of advancing scientific, industrial knowledge and science acculturation.

However, in recent years, its lands, including one at Adenta in Accra, which hosted the Animal Research Institute of CSIR, had been heavily encroached on by private developers.

The latest encroachment is on the land situated at Pokuase and Amasaman in the Greater Accra region, which is being used for various research projects and serves as a vital resource for the council.

Addressing journalists on the issue, Mr Michael Amoo Gyasi, the Chairman of the CSIR Central Committee of Local Unions, expressed ‘shock and dismay that a private developer was clearing the enti
re 400 plus acres of land for use.

He said this action was carried out with impunity, ignoring the terms of the original government-CSIR?agreement and, thus, destroying the council’s ongoing scientific experiments.

‘Valuable CSIR research material that had taken decades to develop on experimental field plots are being destroyed with impunity by faceless individuals and so-called investors and contractors,’ he said.

‘We have had to deal almost daily with individuals and entities who attempt to brazenly take over CSIR lands using every means, without regard to the cumulative and long-term benefits that our dear country derives from these national assets,’ he added.

Mr Gyasi highlighted the detrimental impact of these unethical behaviours on important research and development initiatives.

Ghana’s CSIR plays a crucial role in advancing scientific knowledge, fostering innovation, and driving economic growth.

He said unfortunately, persistent encroachment on research land posed a threat to their primary objec
tives and jeopardised the prospects of Ghanaian children and youth aspiring to pursue STEM education.

‘We stand before you today with heavy hearts and deep concern over a matter that threatens the very existence of CSIR as a national institution for the development of science, technology, and innovation in the country’.

‘We strongly condemn this action and call upon the government to, as a matter of urgency, intervene to reverse these actions. CSIR lands are not pieces of property for grabs; they were acquired by the State for research, technology, and innovation development,’ Mr Gyasi said.

He said the CSIR was founded 66 years ago by the government to establish a strong base for science and technology development, emphasising that the least this generation could do today was to secure and not to destroy it.

He urged Ghanaians to unite with CSIR in solidarity as they work to preserve the institution’s legacy, not wavering in its resolve to defend the nation’s future and ensure that the right things were
done.

Mr Gyasi also expressed worry about the ongoing challenges with funding, resources, and staffing at CSIR, stressing that despite these obstacles the Council had remained committed to making a significant impact and was making efforts to support Ghana’s economic growth.

CSIR had been leading the way in developing different crop varieties, preserving Ghana’s native genetic resources, soil conservation, food processing, forest and water resource management, as well as advancements in building technology, agriculture, aquaculture, and food security, he said.

Mr Gyasi in a brief background to the encroachment activities, said in 2019, the CSIR management confirmed that the government was considering the allocation of parts of their lands at Pokuase and Amasaman, for the construction of affordable housing units.

The Management, he said, raised concerns about the transparency of the process and asked that it should be halted to allow full engagement with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) and the
Ministry of Works and Housing, which oversaw the project.

Mr Gyasi said the move led Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia to establish an Inter-Ministerial Committee to address the impasse.

After careful consideration, the Inter-Ministerial Committee advised giving CSIR 184 acres of land and combining their occupied areas into a single designated space, with the Lands Commission granting a lease.

However, the Lands Commission did not issue the lease until 2023, when the Council discovered a new site plan from the Land Use and Spatial Planning Authority, suggesting that the 184 acres allocated to the CSIR had been decreased to 100 acres.

He said the sod-cutting ceremony confirmed the approval of the land for the Affordable Housing Project, and subsequent investigations at the Ministry of Works and Housing showed that the designated project area spanned 203 acres.

Based on the land size and existing development, he said CSIR should be able to acquire the 100-acre parcel, only to discover that the entire 400-
plus acre of land was being cleared by a private developer, destroying vital scientific experiments.

Consequently, the unions had given the government 21 days to intervene for a peaceful resolution, failing which they would pursue further options for remedy, he said.

Source: Ghana News Agency