Ghana, Togo reconcile land boundary
The Ghana Boundary Commission has begun an audit of the country’s land boundary with Togo to help avert any major land dispute between the two countries.
The exercise follows complaints received through the various security agencies and local authorities concerning some boundary disputes.
Using boundary pillars as reference in its work, the commission is seeking to ensure that all demarcated lands within the country are protected.
The Ghana–Togo Border stretches over a distance of 1,098 kilometres from the tri-point with Burkina Faso in the north to the Atlantic Ocean in the south.
Significantly, while the land border exercise is taking place, at the same time the two neighbouring countries are engaged in negotiations regarding the delimitation of their shared maritime border.
Executives of the commission and the Afadjato South District Assembly, in collaboration with security officials from Togo, last Thursday examined some of the country's border marks at Leklebi.
During the exercise, it was observed that two pillars (51 and 53) had already been affected by natural factors, such as erosion, which threaten to alter the boundary marks.
The National Coordinator of the Ghana Boundary Commission, Brigadier-General Emmanuel Kotia, urged traditional authorities and citizens in communities along the Ghana-Togo border to collaborate with the security agencies to safeguard Ghana's borders.
Speaking at a sensitisation session with the chiefs of the Leklebi Traditional Council, Brig.-Gen. Kotia also advised the people to quickly inform the commission about any defect they found on the border marks, so that it would quickly respond to reconstruct any defective pillar.
One of the border communities, Kame-Tonu
He informed the traditional leaders that the auditing of the pillars was still ongoing, and that it would be followed by an additional survey to ensure that the country's borders were protected.
Brig.-Gen. Kotia said the level of cooperation between officials of the commission and those from Togo was impressive and noted that the amicable manner in which disputes were settled along the border was in line with the core functions of the commission.
He indicated that an educational drive would be engineered by the commission to sensitise residents in border communities to how the boundary pillars were to be protected.
"It is important to understand that these boundary pillars have been placed as a marking to determine the boundary between us and our neighbouring countries," he said.
He urged the district assemblies to plant teak along the borders to serve as additional markings at the land boundary.
At the meeting, the Leklebi Traditional Council raised concern over the siting of the barrier at Leklebi Kame.
The concern, put forward by the Chief of Leklebi-Kame, Togbe Atakyi V, indicated that the current location of the barricade had cut off Kame-Tonu, a community in the Leklebi Traditional Area.
Togbe Atakyi V, the Chief of Leklebi-Kame
"You will agree with me that where the barricade is located currently is nowhere near the border marks. You will also agree with me that Kame-Tonu largely falls within Ghanaian territory," he stated.
He said due to the closure of the border for over a year now, many families in the community had been “torn apart”.
Furthermore, he said, the closure of the border had led to lack of accessibility to some basic social amenities, including health centres and schools, all of which had negatively impacted livelihoods.
Togbe Atakyi recalled similar challenges encountered by the people of the area when the barrier previously located at Dafor, further into the Ghanaian side, left other towns, including Kame, detached from the rest of the Leklebi Traditional Area.
"Since the days of Nkrumah, we have suffered as border citizens, especially during times when the border is shut, as we have it now," he stated.
Togbe Atakyi lamented that barrier siting was negatively impacting citizens, mostly farmers, who have had to grapple with “untold hardships”.
The chief appealed to the delegation to go to the aid of the people by “ensuring that our people who are trapped behind the barricade, who are citizens of Kame-Tonu are given free access and movement".
That, he said, could be achieved by ensuring that the barricade was located at the border point.
The District Chief Executive for the area, Mr James Etornam Flolu, addressing the chiefs ,called for calm and urged them to hold on for a while till the pandemic situation was abated to address their grievances.
In 2018, the acting Director of the Resource Management Unit of the Petroleum Commission, Mr Francis Ackah, told the Daily Graphic on the sides of a training programme for journalists from selected media houses from the Western and the Greater Accra regions that a fresh maritime border dispute was brewing between Ghana and Togo over offshore oil exploration activities.
Between December 2017 and May 2018, Togo had stopped two seismic vessels from Ghana from undertaking seismic activities to acquire seismic data in the deep sea in the territory that approaches Togo.
Following the resolution of the impasse between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire over maritime border demarcations, Togo has been claiming ownership of a maritime boundary that approaches that country.
Already, a series of meetings have taken place between officials of the two countries in Accra and Lome, and this is expected to result in a draft agreement and a delimitation plan acceptable to the governments of both countries for adoption.